House cleaning tips to ease allergies

Allergies are a condition in which the body’s immune system is treating a common substance, for example dust, pollen or certain foods, as a harmful invader and overreacts to it.  These substances, called allergens, are harmless in a majority of people, however, for those allergic to them could cause reactions upon skin contact, or when they are breathed, swallowed or injected. While many allergic reactions are mild and millions of people have to live with them, some may be quite dangerous or life – threatening.

The 10 most common allergies include food, animals, dust mites, pollen, mould, medications, latex, cockroaches, insect stings, perfume and household chemicals. They can be diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam, along with some tests such as skin prick test, intradermal skin test, patch test, blood test or physician supervised challenge tests.

Read our article below to find out how a clean home can reduce the risk of allergies, and which are the best practices and cleaning products for allergy sufferers.

Triggers and symptoms

triggers and symptoms

Did you know that one in every five people develops allergies? The best way to deal with an allergy is to avoid contact with the substance that triggers it, however that’s not always possible. The most common allergy symptoms are sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, congestion, asthma attack, wheezing, skin rash. If you notice you have any of these reactions, then you might be in the presence of an allergen.

Food is in top 10 substances that could cause allergies, and up to 90% of these food allergies are the effect of either cow’s milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts or soy consumption. Food allergy affects about 4 percent of adults and slightly more children. If you ever felt your throat tighten, dizzy, short of breath or your tongue swell, you may have had an allergic reaction to a food. Other symptoms could include coughing, vomiting, pale or blue skin colouring, shock, and the potential life threatening condition known as anaphylaxis.

Did you notice you have all sort of reactions, such as sneezing or itchy skin, whenever your furry pet is around? If that’s true, chances are you’re one of the many people who suffers from a pet dander allergy. The dander from both cats and dogs contains oils that coat and protect their fur, and these oils contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions. Pet dander is a protein mix secreted in an animal’s skin and saliva, so even a furless pet could trigger the same problems. Carpets, drapes, bedding, and pillows can trap allergens such as pet hair which can cause asthma and allergy flare-ups.

Pollens from trees, plants, and grasses cause seasonal allergies like hay fever. Itchy, puffy, watery eyes and red, stuffy nose, are the most common indicators of this allergy. Usually, hay fever is seasonal, with spring and fall being the main seasons when it appears, but it can last all year long if the allergen stays throughout the year. Another trigger for hay fever is mould. Inhaled mould spores can irritate the nose and throat causing the same allergic reactions as pollen. Inside the house, bathrooms and basements are the perfect environment for mould, while outside, grass and mulch provide good growth conditions. Good ventilation helps dry areas and suppresses mould growth, and if you are suffering from allergies, you should avoid cutting grass, raking leaves or spreading mulch.

Believe it or not, dust mites are all around us, from mattresses and pillows, to carpets, curtains and even plush toys. They feed on bacteria and dead skin cells, and their waste contains protein that can cause allergic reactions. The environment should be washable and easily wiped down. Washing sheets in hot water and placing pillows and mattresses/box springs in dust mite encasements will also help keep this type of allergy at bay.

Certain medications may cause allergic reactions. While most of the symptoms are mild and could be easily treated with antihistamines or steroids, most doctors will suggest that you stop taking the medication. Your doctor may find a more suitable substitute, one that you’re not allergic to. If you ever had a severe medication allergic reactions, consider carrying an EpiPen and have a medical bracelet or some way to notify medical stuff of your condition.

Is Latex making you itchy?  That means you are allergic to it. Latex can be found in medical gloves, condoms, adhesive bandages and even medical devices like catheters and anaesthesia equipment. The allergy is caused by an intolerance for certain proteins found in the rubber tree sap from which latex is made. Symptoms can include itching, stuffy nose, hives, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

If you need another reason to hate cockroaches, then let us tell you that the proteins in their droppings, saliva, and faeces are allergens for some people. They can cause allergic reactions like sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes, nose, mouth and throat.The more cockroaches an area has, the more likely people are to react allergically to them. Some researchers blame cockroaches for increases in asthma rates over the last 30 years.

If you notice that your earrings make your earlobes itchy, or your necklace leaves a rash around your neck, then you might be allergic to gold or nickel. This type of allergy starts with a rash, redness, dry patches or swelling, and if left untreated, could make skin look dark, leathery and cracked. Some people with extreme nickel reactions should even avoid nickel-filled foods, such as fish and chocolate.

Insect bite or sting would cause a minor skin reaction in most people. However, if it develops into swelling, nausea, itching, hives, fatigue, or a low grade fever you might be allergic to it. Some insect allergies are more serious and the reaction much more severe or life threating – anaphylactic shock. Symptoms like swelling of the face, mouth, tongue or throat, difficult breathing and low blood pressure should not be ignored.

Have you ever experienced burning, stinging, itchy skin or hives after wearing makeup? If the answer is “yes”, then you might be the one in four people who have reported a skin reaction from beauty products. Just be mindful, that these sensitive reactions are not limited to make up, but cologne, perfume or shampoo as well. Headaches, sneezing, watery eyes, dizziness, hives, and rashes can all be caused by fragrances. However, most of these reactions aren’t technically allergic, but rather indicate a sensitivity to certain fragrances.

“Raccoon eyes” – dark circles are another sigh of allergy.When the nasal passages are congested, as it happens when you have hay fever, there is an increased amount of pressure in the nose. This pressure prevents the blood that supplies the superficial part of the face from draining back to the heart. This blood pools in the veins and capillaries underneath the eyes, causing a dark appearance. Plus

Chronic congestion –do you have a stuffy nose since forever? It’s definitely not a cold or flu, but more likely an allergy. During an allergic reaction, the lining of your nasal passages swells and makes extra mucus. You might get sinus pressure and headaches. For a long-term action plan, talk to an allergist.

Wheezing –this whistling sound is often linked with asthma, but it can also be associated with seasonal allergies, or a serious allergic reaction. Wheezing happens when you have to breathe through narrowed airways. In some cases, you might need emergency care.

Itchy Skin – itchy skin might be a sign that you are dried out, however, if it doesn’t stop itching and it turns into a rash, you might have something else. How do you know you have a rash? You skin has become swollen, inflated, blotchy, scaly or red. Sometimes, skin bumps that look like pimples or sores may show up, as well as the sensation of itchy or burning skin. Allergens, heat or certain medical conditions may cause these type of skin reactions. A rash can occur straight away after the contact with a substance, or it might take some time to develop. Location (some skin rashes appear on the face, while others flare up on the arms, legs and torso), appearance, and colour of a skin rash are all factors in determining the right diagnosis and the right treatment.

Hives – urticaria, also known as hives, is a skin rash that comes on suddenly and causes pale pink or red, itchy welts, which sometimes burn or sting. Up to 20% of people may experience hives at least once in their lifetime. It is usually caused by an allergic reaction, typically to a food, medication, or a recent cold or illness, and it can occur anywhere on the skin. These pale, itchy, red welts can last from several hours to several days. The best defence is to avoid the trigger, but if you have fever or you are in any pain, you should seek medical attention right away. That’s very important, especially if the urticaria occurred as an allergic reaction to medication.

Eczema –the main symptoms of dermatitis, also known as eczema, are itchy, cracked, red, and sometimes oozy skin. It is important to know that is not contagious, and even if is common in babies and children, it can be seen at any age. The most common triggers are detergents, soaps, wool, synthetic fibres, and stress. The best treatment is avoiding substances that your skin is sensitive to and following a regular moisturizing skin care routine.

Contact dermatitis – allergic contact dermatitis is usually seen with poison ivy, cosmetics, certain metals such as nickel, and medications that are applied directly on the skin. The affected area may appear red, and blisters, sores, scales, crusts or skin bumps are very common as well.

Allergic asthma – the most common asthma triggers are pet dander, mould, dust mites, chemical irritants (detergents, paint, air fresheners) and cigarette smoke. Some people may only experience asthma symptoms occasionally, while others more frequent and severe enough to interfere with daily activities.You can take measures to keep your home asthma-friendly, by identifying and minimizing common indoor asthma triggers.

Insomnia – with all the itching, stuffy head and nose, sinus pain, and other allergy symptoms, it’s difficult to have a good night sleep. As one problem leads to another, you will notice that it’s hard to focus when your eyes are tearing, your nose is dripping and you’ve been up all night.  If you’re lying awake a lot at night because of allergies, it may be time to ask your doctor about changing your treatment plan.

Fatigue – allergies make it hard to sleep and they send your immune system into overdrive. This wears you out, making you feel tired all the time. Scientists are even looking into links between allergies, mood changes, and depression.

Tips and cleaning products for allergies

Tips and cleaning products for allergies

A clean house reduces the amount of allergens and helps alleviate your allergy symptoms. The only thing you should be careful about, is that your cleaning efforts don’t backfire, sincemany products on the market contain harsh and potentially irritating chemicals. Most common chemical ingredients are Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Sodium lauryl sulphate, D-limonene and Sodium hypochlorite. You can find them in many cleaning products such as furniture polish, disinfectants, mildew removers, dish detergents, dish soaps, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, all-purpose cleaners, drain, oven, and glass cleaners. Cleaning products do not trigger an allergy, but they are irritants, and an irritant can cause the same problems as an allergy.

If you are an allergy sufferer it is best to put another member of the family in charge of the cleaning task. If that is not possible, then make sure you look for nontoxic cleaning solutions. “Green certified” products are your best option, however, read the label carefully, as some of these products still contain irritating substances. Don’t use scented detergents, as the fragrances in cleaners can trigger allergies. Another way you could keep allergic reactions at bay while cleaning, is to use more DIY methods and homemade remedies, instead of “from the shelf cleaning agents.” For example, you could use vinegar and salt as a surface cleaner, baking soda and water to clean baby bottles, olive oil or lemon juice and vegetable oil for furniture care, ventilation, cinnamon and cloves for air freshening.

Vacuuming regularly is a great and easy way of maintaining clean floors and removing the dust and debris that might trigger some allergic reaction. During allergy season, increase the frequency and use attachments to target sofas, curtains, blinds, and corners (and other less-obvious areas where dust tends to collect). If your flooring is mainly hard floors mop regularly.  It’s best to use a good quality vacuum with HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. That means, all the allergens sucked off the floor by your hoover, won’t be shoot out back into the air where you can breathe them in. You can find HEPA filters in most air purifiers.The best room for a unit is the one where you spend most of your time, usually your bedroom. If you are planning to buy one, just make sure is big enough for the area where you plan to use it.

Use a damp cloth for dusting the furniture. This way you will trap all the allergens and dust, instead of knocking them into the air.If you could wear a mask while dusting, that would be great, as it will minimise the amount of dust particles that make it into your nose and mouth. To limit the exposure to allergens you kicked up into the air, leave the house for a few hour, after you finished with the cleaning. 

Avoid having piles of boxes or clothing gathered in every corner of the house. They can hide allergens such as dust mites, so it’s best to cut clutter and keep everything in their right place. If you have too many items and not enough space, you should ask yourself “how many of these items are you actually using?”Maybe it’s time you sell, donate or simply dispose of some of them.

Wash sheets and curtains regularly; preferable in hot water, if the material permits high temperature. A good idea is to use the dryer instead of leaving the laundry outside to air dry. Left outside, it will pick up dust particle and pollen.  Stuffed toys offer a great environment for dust mites and bacteria, so don’t hesitate to toss them in the washing machine every once in a while.  

Bathroom should be kept free of mould, so scrub the tiles regularly to reduce the growth.  Don’t forget the shower curtain, too. You may be able to wash it in the washing machine.

Maintaining clean windows and entryways, by wiping, sweeping and vacuuming them regularly, reduces the amount of allergens, dust and pollen that makes is into your house. Winter winds, rains, and snow will eventually take a toll on the exterior of your home, as well as on your patio, deck, drive way or car park. If you notice moss, algae, mould, and mildew growth, it’s time for a deep cleaning. Power washing removes all these harmful contaminants that can damage your home’s siding if left untreated, leading to a healthier environment. Happy Clean provides hot water pressure washer cleaning services in Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Laois, Louth, Offaly, and Wicklow. Whether you need a power wash of your patio, driveway, gutter, or oil stain removal, we can clean it. We use high-quality equipment and products to ensure 100% client satisfaction and a job well done.

Professional carpet and upholstery cleaning

Professional carpet and upholstery cleaning

Carpets are a great addition to any home. The multitude of colours, patterns and fabrics, make carpeting one of the most popular types of flooring. Add to that, the cosy and soft feeling carpets lend to a room.

Both carpets and upholstered furniture are known for harbouring dust, allergens and bacteria. If you have a cat or a dog, add some pet dander to the list of irritants. Even in the cleanest house, sofas and carpets will have pollutants trapped within the fibres. Most of these harmful contaminants come from outside, either you bring them on your shoes, your dog carries them on its fur, or they enter your home through an open window.

The most common triggers found in your sofas and carpets are dust mites, pollen and pet dander. Symptoms you might experience include itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, red skin, coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing. If you have a persistent allergy, then probably you are no stranger to any of these triggers and symptoms. When comes to dust mites, their waste is the actual irritant, and they produce impressive amounts of it – up to 200 times their body weight in waste each day. Dust mites love warm, humid environments, so carpets, sofas and mattresses are their favourite spots.

As precious as your cat or dog is, it might be the reason for your allergic reactions. Animals’ saliva, urine and other secretions contain proteins that are potential allergens. Their hair often traps dust, fleas and pollen that end up on your floor and furniture. Pet allergens are especially problematic because they are sticky and cling to surfaces, and when disturbed they linger in the air for a long time. If you are not a pet owner, you can still be exposed to pet dander and bring it into your home on your shoes and clothing.

Mould is another common cause of indoor allergies. It can grow and spread because of high humidity, untreated spills, leaky ceiling and other. Cleaning your carpets or sofa using DIY methods can also promote the spread of mould and mildew if not dried thoroughly. No matter the cleaning process, your floors should not be wet more than 24 hours, or there is a high risk of growing mould.

Beside the build-up of debris hidden between the fibres of you carpet, the materials used to manufacture carpeting, as well as the volatile organic compounds (VOC) they emit, could cause allergic reactions, such as, contact dermatitis or allergic rhinitis. The higher the VOC load, the more toxins in the carpet.They may also adversely affect the respiratory tract or result in allergy-induced asthma.Carpet fibre, padding, and the glue required to hold them together may be to blame if you can’t stop sneezing or itching when you’re home. However, not all carpets are created equal.

High pile or long pile carpeting, such as shag or frieze rugs, have long, loose fibres, which provide allergens with places to stick, and mould with places to grow. On the other hand, low pile or short pile carpets, have a tighter, shorter weave, so bacteria have less room to hide. If you want to find out more about the types of carpet fibres and material, read our carpet buying guide.

If you’re allergic to the materials your carpet is made of, removing it may be your best, most comfortable option. If you are allergic to the irritants hiding in your carpet, allergy-proofing your home may help. Beside regular vacuuming, occasionally spill removal and reducing the humidity in the house, having your carpets and sofas professionally deep cleaned every 6 to 8 months will make a huge impact on your allergies. 

There are many types of carpet cleaning methods, and while there is no perfect one, depending on your needs, one might be better than another. If you are an allergy sufferer, you need your couches and floors thoroughly deep cleaned, so your best option is to hire a professional company that uses the hot water extraction method. At Happy Clean, we use this cleaning technique for carpets, upholstery and mattresses. The main benefit of this method is that is highly efficient in removing the build-up of dust, debris and bacteria from deep within the fibres. This means your carpets and sofas, will not only look and feel fresh, but will also be sanitized. As an allergy sufferer that’s want you want, complete removal of allergens and improved indoor air quality.

So how this method actually works? It involves the application of a cleaning agent on the soiled surface, agitation of the carpet or sofa with a brush, and followed by rinsing. The fabric is agitated using high pressure hot water, as heat increases cleaning effectiveness and sanitizes the surfaces. Finally, a high powered vacuum extracts the water, detergent and dirt from deep within the fibres. At Happy Clean we use only green certified and eco-friendly cleaning solutions, which means they are safe for you and your family, including pets. The rinsing process is as important as the actual cleaning and requires an experienced and knowledgeable carpet cleaner. If sticky residues are left behind that means either the agent rushed through the job, or the equipment he used was not powerful enough. That’s why is important to hire a reputable company such as Happy Clean. All our agents are professionally trained and up to date with the latest updates in the industry, so they can deal with high levels of dirt and a variety of stains, no matter what material your carpets/ sofas are made of.

The hot water extraction method is very gentle on fibres and can be used on nearly all types of materials, including wool. The ability to use the widest array of stain treatments it’s one of great advantages of this technique, advantage that guarantees your carpeting and furniture will look “at their best” after cleaning.

If you are struggling with watery eyes, itchy skin, runny nose and other allergy induced diseases, then professional carpet and upholstery cleaning is one of the most convenient option when comes to alleviating your symptoms. A thorough deep cleaning goes deep into the fibres of your furniture and carpeting, removing dander, pollen, and dust that can cause allergies and agitate the eyes, nose, and throat. The removal of these allergens leads to better air quality in your home and a healthier life for you and your family.

Professional mattress cleaning

mattress cleaning

Your bedroom should be a place to unwind and relax, and not a source of allergens. However, if you are experiencing watery eyes, runny nose, cough or sneezing while in bed, your mattress might be the culprit. Due to a considerable amount of sweet, shed skin and other body fluids, your sleep environment is the perfect place for dust mites, pet dander, mould and mildew. All these may trigger allergic reactions, which lead to general discomfort and insomnia. It’s hard to get a good night sleep when you are constantly itching, sneezing, you have a congested nose and obstructed airflow.  Allergy sufferers are generally more likely to have disordered sleep.

There are various ways to minimize the allergy triggers in your bedroom, starting with using a hypoallergenic mattress. This type of mattress is made out of materials that do not induce allergic reactions, such as memory foam or latex, and it has a dust- resistant cover. The role of this cover is to naturally keep away microorganisms including pollen, dust, bed bugs, and dust mites.

If allergies give you a hard time, you should refrain from sleeping on a mattress or pillows made out of animal products. Hair, wool or feathers could cause flare ups for allergy sufferer. Most hypoallergenic bed springs contain natural fabrics, such as cotton, and they are filled with “man-made” materials which can resist against allergy causing organism. (for example, polymers).

Another important attribute of hypoallergenic mattresses, is that they are tightly sealed, which prevents the dead skin cells and body oils from going deep into the fibres. This, in turn, prevents dust mites from investing the mattress. Both foam and latex bed springs are very dense, which leave little space for bacteria growth, comparing with coil mattresses which have lots of room for airflow, so they are a potential breeding ground for germs, mould and dust mites. However, if a coil mattress is what you want, you can opt for a hybrid one, which combines the benefits of memory foam with pocket springs.

Make sure you choose a bed that is safe to use, not only hypoallergenic, as there are many hypoallergenic beds that contain harsh chemicals, such as flame retardants, formaldehyde, and phthalates. While these chemicals keep natural allergens out of your bed, they can cause allergic reactions such as rashes, sore throats, headaches and difficulty breathing.

Here are some certifications you should look for to ensure your bed is safe and won’t aggravate your allergies:

CertiPUR-US

✓ Made without ozone depleters

✓ Made without PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (”Tris”) flame retardants

✓ Made without mercury, lead, and other heavy metals

✓ Made without formaldehyde

✓ Made without phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

✓ Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million)

GreenGuard Gold – this certification means a bed is safe for sensitive individuals—allergy and asthma sufferers, children, and the elderly—and is low in VOC emissions and off-gassing.

OekoTex Standard 100 – this certification ensures that the mattress do not contain harmful substances such as legally regulated chemicals, chemicals known harmful, but not regulated, or illegal substances.

MADE SAFE – means mattresses, amongst other types of products, are free from harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, fire retardants, neurotoxins, and VOCs.

Global Organic Latex Standard – a bed with a GOLS certification ensures the latex contains at least 95% organic raw materials. Any filler in the latex must have low emissions to be considered safe.

As you can see many of the qualifications for the certifications overlap. While there are no allergy or asthma specific mattress standards, all these health and safety regulations can make a positive impact on your wellbeing. However, you need to remember that a bed does not need all of these certifications to be safe to sleep on. 

No matter the type of mattress you picked for your bed, there are many other things to consider in order to maintain your sleep environment free of dust and allergens. Did you know that in most hospitals and medical care facilities mattresses are covered in plastic or vinyl to ensure patients stay healthy? At home, using a good quality, waterproof mattress cover, is equally important. This protector will reduce the amount of sweet, dust and other microbes that make it into the mattress and is extremely helpful in case of an accident. 

Bed sheets play an important role in your allergy symptoms at night. Allergens can get trapped into the fibres, so bed sheets with a high thread count, which leaves less room for microorganisms to fester, are the better option if you are struggling with allergies. Bedding and pillows made out of hypoallergenic materials, such as cotton, tencel or silk, are cool, dust mite resistant and have tight weaves.

For allergy sufferers washing their bed sheets, mattress protector, blankets and pillow cases on a weekly basis is practically non-negotiable. We recommend using a gentle detergent and high temperature to clean, however don’t forget to check your beddings’ care guidelines for precise instructions. Ironing the items also helps killing all the bad germs. It’s best to use the clothes dryer, instead of air drying the linen. Left outside it will pick up pollen and other contaminant, especially in the allergy season.

While cleaning and maintaining the bedding is a task that you can easily fulfil, deep cleaning the mattress it’s a job better to be left for professional trained cleaning agents. Did you know that experts recommend having your mattress professionally washed every 6 to 8 moths? However, very few people know that mattress cleaning service is even an option and they just throw the mattresses into the skip. Or even worse, they sleep on them for years as they can’t afford a new one. At Happy Clean, the mattress cleaning service is an affordable way of prolonging its life span and improving the quality of your sleep!

Using the same method as for carpets and upholstery, the hot water extraction technique, our trained and insured agents will remove the dust mites, germs, allergens and combat nasty odours, from deep within your mattress, leaving your sleep environment fresh and sanitized.

Floor cleaning

floor cleaning

Hard floors are known for being the more allergy-friendly choice on the market. When properly installed and sealed, hard floorings do not harbour many microorganisms like dust mites, or trap dirt, dust or other allergens. More than that, they are much easier to clean and maintain, than carpets. A quick mop and hoover will remove most of the dust and debris.

Long popular for their durability, style, high-end appearance and variety, hard floors are a good allergy-friendly options for if attention is paid to the selection, style, and installation. What you need to pay attention to is the amount of VOCs emissions, especially check the presence and level of Formaldehyde, and choose the product with the least amount possible.

For example, engineered hardwood contains several of actual wood bonded together with a chemical adhesive. All those adhesives and man-made materials are potential sources of allergens. As they’re chemical-based, they have the potential for immediate and timed-release of Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs).

While most hard floor options are hypoallergenic, they are not completely impervious to allergens. Dirt and germs can still get trapped in between the floor boards, or like in the case of natural stone or porous tiles, between their cracks. So the smoother the finish of your tiles, the better. Additionally, it’s critically important to properly seal the floor, and regularly clean and reseal it at the manufacturer’s recommendations. Sealing prevents dirt, dust and other allergens from penetrating the porous surface of the tile or grout.

As easy as it might seem to clean and maintain your floors, mopping, sweeping and vacuuming it’s not enough in the long run. Over time, stains appear on the floor surface, making it look grubby. These stains are quite tough to remove on your own, not to mention that not all floors can be cleaned through vigorous scrubbing and with powerful chemicals. Many floor types require special attention as well as specialized detergents and cleaning equipment. At Happy Clean we have the techniques and products for any type of hard floor. Our agents can restore the original appearance of your surfaces and remove the harmful contaminants and allergens. Sanitized floors are very important in homes with small babies, who can crawl or play on the floor. 

While all these tips and tricks are useful, and availing of professional cleaning service would alleviate your allergy symptoms, in case of severe reactions, or allergies that simply won’t “go away”, visiting a doctor is highly recommended.