Even though cold temperatures usually bring an end to seasonal allergies, we are still vulnerable to allergies in winter because we tend to be indoors more, where our forced air heaters circulate airborne dust. Dust inside our homes is made up of many things, like pet hair, pet dander, textile fibers, paper fibers, human skin cells, human hair, and food particles … just to name a few.
Outdoor dust is generated from sources like pollen, pollution, vehicular exhaust, tire particles, and even insect follicles or parts. In addition, we track soil, organic matter, and other particles into our homes on the soles of our shoes and dust comes in every time we open an outside door. Our homes are a combination of inside and outside dust, in ratios that vary from one home to the next.
With all this talk about dust, it’s a good idea to grab some wipes and thoroughly clean holiday decorations before we bring them into the common areas of our home. Use a HEPA-filter vacuum on hard-to-clean festive décor before displaying it and then clean everything again before putting it all away. Avoid feather dusters because they agitate dust, and always store decorations between holidays in dust-proof bins or bags.
One reason that dust can be problematic for pets and humans is that it contains microscopic mites that feed on dust and their waste can cause allergies in sensitive people. The number of mites in homes can vary from thousands to millions and since they flourish in mattresses, pillows, comforters, upholstered furniture, rugs, and curtains, encasing bedding in mite-proof covers and removing extra furnishing and rugs can help.
Clutter serves as a space for dust and critters to hide so if something isn’t serving a purpose, remove it. Wash pillows and comforters in hot water or put them out in freezing weather because extreme temperatures kill mites. Weekly cleaning and dusting can help keep dust from building up and if you don’t like to vacuum, get yourself a robot vacuum and run it once a day. Mites like humidity, so you might want to place dehumidifiers in areas that generate dust.
We haven’t said anything yet about the havoc that pet hair and pet dander can create but the answer to that problem is frequent dusting, vacuuming, and keeping animals out of the bedrooms of family members who are allergic. Dust is remarkable in its ability to hang around in carpeting, behind furniture, and in the air we breathe so whether we have allergies or not it is a good idea for us to try and keep it under control.
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