Monday, April 9, 2012

Cleaning That Prevents Allergies

I have suffered from allergies all my life.  If there's one thing I've gotten pretty good at, it's removing allergens from my living space.  Even with a indoor/outdoor cat (short-haired), I've managed to eliminate most of the dust and dirt that aggravates my allergies.  I don't think it's fair that I have to dust since I am an allergy sufferer, but I manage to pull it off on a consistent basis.

You don't want the dust to have a chance to really build up.  Cleaning is so much faster if done regularly.  So here are the ways I clean and some homemade products to try as well.  One thing I can't stand when I'm asked to go in and clean someone's home is to find five-million, half-filled bottles of cleaning products under every bathroom and kitchen sink!  With some basic products like rubbing alcohol and ammonia and a few spray bottles you don't have to resort to store-bought products that end up in landfills and polluting the ground.  And you save money :)


Move all furniture to one side of the room and work on the empty side.  I like to use the round disks that go under heavy furniture and make moving large pieces of furniture a piece of cake.  I would suggest having someone else help to move heavy pieces--just in case.
Vacuum or sweep and mop before dusting.
No-wax linoleum floors (most modern flooring) can simply be cleaned with 1 tablespoon white vinegar to one gallon of warm water.
Clean in one direction (with grain if wood floors, mop should be damp not wet).  Start farthest from the entry ways and work toward them so that you don't track dirt over clean areas.  I like to wear clean white cotton socks in case I do have to walk back over--it doesn't leave tracks.
I use the ceiling fans, open windows and run floor fans to dry the floors quickly (wood-look linoleum) before a kid can walk on it.
Do the other side of the room when the floors are dry.
This is a good time to wash small rugs according to manufacturers directions.


When dusting wood furniture, pull out the drawers and vacuum the casings with a crevice tool.
Always apply dusting spray on the cloth--not on the furniture, etc.
Use lemon oil for light-colored furniture, a dark oil for dark furniture, and a red oil for cherry, mahogany, and other red-colored woods.  As someone who likes to reclaim old furniture, I am a huge fan of these oils and they really last a long time.  I have thought some pieces of furniture beyond repair.  I used the correct-colored oil on a buffet and china cabinet and now they look as good as an exact duplicate set I found in a magazine article.  I was going to paint them but now I wouldn't dare!
If wood needs a good cleaning (for instance spray polishes have been used on good wood), mix 2 tablespoons of linseed oil, 2 tablespoons turpentine, and 1 quart of boiling water.  (Be sure there is proper ventilation).  Mix the linseed oil and turpentine together in a small container, then add the boiling water.  Make sure the container is disposable.  Wear protective rubber gloves and dip a cloth in the cleaner and wring out well.  Wash one surface and wipe dry.  Do not try to do the whole piece of furniture at one time.  When the solution cools off, the oil and turpentine will separate from the water.  Throw it out and make a new batch; do not try to reheat it.
Lampshades can be dusted with a vacuum using the upholstery attachment or a masking tape lint roller.
Place a pillow case over each blade of the ceiling fan to wipe dust clean.  If you do this regularly, it won't be gross at all.  Shake pillow case outside and throw in the washer.
Use a Swiffer to clean blinds, (it's really worth the money).  Close blinds down and wipe them in a downward motion (not side to side).  Do this before you clean the floors, and move furniture away from the blinds before dusting.
Book cases can be dusted weekly with a Swiffer.  A couple of times a year, clean shelf by shelf (top to bottom) by removing books and wiping each with a clean cloth (refold several times to reuse same cloth).  Clean the wood with the proper cleaner (follow the directions).  Wipe with the grain of the wood.  Clean any glass with glass cleaner that has been sprayed on a clean t-shirt cloth (or micro-fiber).  Never spray books or shelving directly with cleaners.  (Don't forget to clean the tops of large standing bookshelves first).
Walls can be dusted using a clean dust mop and wiping side to side from top to bottom of the wall.  Use a Swiffer duster with extension to clean corners and crown molding and the baseboards.
Use the crevice tool on the vacuum to clean edges of floors and in the corners.
Keep a sprayer filled with this mixture to clean smudges on walls and appliances:  2 T. non-sudsy ammonia, 1 tsp. liquid dish washing soap, 1 pint rubbing alcohol, and 1 gallon of water.   Just spray and wipe clean.  For flat paint use:  1 gal. hot water mixed with 1 c. ammonia, 1/2 c. white vinegar, and 1/4 c. baking soda.  Scrub, then wipe wall dry with a piece of terrycloth rag., (this is so strong it will dull glossy walls.)

Cleaning Upholstery

Remove cushions from couches and chairs and vacuum thoroughly.  Flip cushions regularly.
Vacuum all sides as well.
When cleaning with upholstery cleaner, be sure to check the label on the furniture and test a small area that is in an inconspicuous location.  A great site for home remedy cleaning upholstery and carpets is
Wipes can be purchased to clean and protect leather furniture.  
In the spring, remove and properly store wool throws, etc.


A good basic window cleaner is 2 tablespoon rubbing alcohol to 2 quarts of water.
In cold weather, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 quart of warm water.
Wiping materials are as important as the window cleaner.  Newspaper is best, but it makes your hand black.  The next best is old percale or cotton cloths.  NEVER USE SOFTENERS WHEN YOU WASH  AND DRY YOUR CLEANING CLOTHS (INCLUDING MICROFIBER).  Never use permanent press fabric for any kind of cleaning since the finish is not absorbent and it smears and streaks.
Wash the window from left to right on the inside and from the top to bottom on the outside, then if they are streaked, you know which side the streak is on.  Early morning is the best time to wash windows, because the streaks can be seen then.  Never wash windows in the hot sun because they dry to fast and leave streaks.
Drapes and sheers:  air-fluff in the dryer.
Vacuum each month starting with the inside, top to bottom.
Take down every 6 months and run through the no heat cycle of the dryer for 15 minutes with a damp clean towel.  The dust will cling to the towel.  Remove and hang immediately (or at least smooth them out on the bed or carpet).
Sheers can generally be cleaned at home following manufacturer's directions.

What lengths do you go to to keep allergies at a minimum?


Mrs. Mordecai said...

I would like to try the oils on some of my wood furniture that needs a little TLC. I have thought about painting it before, but I hate painting. This sounds easier. :)

Heather A. said...

I recommend trying the oils first, especially if the wood has attained an aged patina of real wood. My furniture that I thought I would have to strip and redo or paint is from the 1930s and I was so pleased with the oil. I recommend cleaning thoroughly first and protecting your carpet when you clean.

elise said...

Cute kitty :) And interesting article

Heather A. said...

She's definitely got a personality! I'm glad you thought the article was interesting since you are in college. I wasn't sure who might be interested :P


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