Las Vegas might be the allergy capital of the world. It seems the signs of allergies — sneezing, runny eyes and nasal congestion — are always prevalent in Southern Nevada, whether it’s summer, fall, winter or spring.
Although there isn’t much anyone can do about allergies, there are ways to reduce exposure and minimize symptoms. A good place to start is with a clean home by eliminating allergens such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander, smoke and mold.
Gil Sirimarco, who owns and operates Pink Lady Maids, said it is difficult to keep a clean home in Southern Nevada because of its desert location. There is always wind and some type of construction sending dust particles everywhere.
“The biggest source for allergens in the home is fabric,” Sirimarco said. “Fabric captures dust mites that cause so many allergies. I’m talking about clothes such as a wool jacket that sits in a closet all year and is only worn for a month or two when the weather is cool. Then that same jacket is put back into the closet to hang for another year. It needs to be cleaned.
“Fabric also includes carpeting and all bedding such as sheets, bedskirts and comforters. These items collect dust and need to be cleaned on a regular basis.”
When it comes to allergy-proofing a room, start with the bedroom. Think about using dust-mite-proof covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs. Change bedding, including comforters, at least once a week. Wash these items in water above 130 degrees.
Hard flooring such as wood, tile or linoleum is best in bedrooms because it is easier to keep clean and freer of allergens than carpet. At the very least, carpet must be vacuumed weekly with a vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air filter.
Window coverings are another place allergens can linger. If possible, wash them weekly. In addition, keep pets out of the bedroom, eliminate clutter, make sure all furniture has hard, easy-to-clean surfaces and keep windows closed.
According to Sirimarco, the average valley home is 1,700 to 2,200 square feet. He usually sends two people to clean the home and that takes about four hours.
“When I say clean, I mean wipe things down, not just dust it,” he explained. “Dusting sends the dust up in the air, and it stays around and recirculates. We wipe above counters, above cabinets in kitchens, pot shelves, clean behind appliances including the washer and dryer, and do a very thorough job. That’s the advice I would give someone who is cleaning their home.”
Sirimarco recommends cleaning the home twice a month depending on the size of the home and the number of people living in it.
“I always tell customers to have a critical eye when cleaning,” he said. “For instance, when cleaning the windows, don’t just clean the blinds. Make sure to wipe down the window sills, window tracks and valences.
“Look up and clean the air ducts. Wipe down both sides of a ceiling fan. Change air filters regularly. Wipe down the inside of closets with a moist towel. Vacuum once and then vacuum again. Have the carpets professionally cleaned. Keeping the home clean of allergens is an ongoing task, but maintaining it on a regular basis will keep it manageable and you’ll feel better.”
When cleaning the bathroom, the main culprits are mold and moisture. Use an exhaust fan during and after baths and showers to eliminate moisture (steam) out of the room. Get rid of moisture-trapping rugs, window coverings and fabrics or clean them regularly.
Avoid wallpaper and opt instead for a nonporous wall surface like tile or mold-resistant enamel paint. Towel-dry the tub or shower after each use and clean or replace moldy shower curtains or liners. On a weekly schedule, clean the tub, tiles, sink, toilet and floor.
Two other rooms that require attention are the kitchen and living room. The main goal in the kitchen is to control moisture so use an exhaust fan to vent steam from cooking. Keep countertops, cabinets, appliances, floors and other hard surfaces clean and keep the sink empty and dry. Empty garbage containers daily and address any insect or pest problems at the first signs of invasion.
The living room is similar to the bathroom and that means eliminating places where allergens can linger, such as carpeting, upholstered furnishings, curtains, blinds, wall hangings and knick knacks. Keep dust to a minimum with weekly cleaning sessions and watch for signs of mold and moisture near windows.
Don’t allow smoking in the home. And keep windows closed during allergy season.