Seasonal allergies are bad enough, but there may also be allergens in your home year-round. Dust, dust mites, bacteria, and mildew all contribute to allergy symptoms. To keep allergens from affecting you and your family, don't wait for spring cleaning. As with most cleaning methods, prevention is the best solution. Simple routine care can keep your home fresh and clean all year.
What is dust?
Tiny bits of lint, fabric, dead skin cells, pet dander, pollen and other plant matter, drywall, paint particles, carpet fibers, soil, hair, and dust mites. While any of these substances can irritate your nose or throat, some people are truly allergic to dust mite droppings. Dust mites-microscopic bugs that consume dead skin cells of humans and animals-live inside pillows, mattresses, curtains, carpet, and furniture.
What is mildew?
Mildew is a form of mold, a fungus that can produce mild allergic reactions or severe health problems, depending on the extent of exposure. Symptoms include throat and nose irritation, red or watery eyes, sneezing, and headaches. Mildew feeds on organic matter (this includes cotton, leather, and silk garments, as well as food stains on garments) and grows in damp, warm places. It can develop on wet garments whether they are clean or dirty. Even the small amount of moisture from perspiration can be enough to grow mildew if the garment is not aired out and washed.
To prevent mildew, make sure garments are completely dry before putting them away. Do not leave wet garments sitting in a pile.
Mildew has an unpleasant, musty smell and appears as black dots on clothing. It is best to take very mildewed garments to a cleaner. More information on removing mildew stains can be found in our section on Water Damage.