Family Life


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Allergens and Dust Mites and Mold, Oh My!

Kathy buckworth - allergens and dust mites and mold, oh my!Any time is a good time to get your kids to clean up their room, but with school, hockey, homework and more it can be hard to fit it in year round. But take some time in the spring to make sure you take care of some real health hazards that may be lurking in their room; make sure to have the kids pitch in so they learn good cleaning habits as well. Not only do many environmental allergies make their debut in spring, but after a winter of being cooped up together and ignoring the growing pile of outgrown clothes make for a perfect storm of mold, dust mites and other allergens to gather.

Start by breaking the task into parts.

First, the closet

What’s stuffed in the corners? Pull out all the clothes and get a box for clothes your child has outgrown or no longer wears. (Keeping a box in their closet year round makes this task easier in the spring.) Make sure the kids have a convenient laundry basket for dirty clothes and towels, these are perfect breeding grounds for mold and mildew if the clothes or towels were wet when dropped to the floor.

Next, the bed

Washing and changing sheets can be a big chore, but it’s not too big for even a young child to take on. Get them into the habit of pulling their sheets off at least once every two weeks and putting them in the wash themselves. Make sure you have a mattress cover on the bed (that also gets washed occasionally) and that you are using pillow covers underneath the pillow cases. You might want to consider a hypoallergenic mattress like an Endy Sleep, which is conveniently sold online, at a great price, and shipped directly to your front door.

Safeguard against mites

So maybe you think you’re pretty tidy, and your house is always (relatively) clean. Did you know that approximately 10 percent of the population have an allergic sensitivity to dust mites? And the prime breeding ground is your mattress. There’s no formula for the perfect time to replace your mattress, but if you’re waking up with itchy, runny eyes, it’s one of many signs you’re due for a new one.

Dust and allergens can build up in as little as week, so if you have someone in the house with sensitivities, you should be vacuuming at least once a week.

You can help prevent allergens in the bedroom with weekly washing of sheets and pillow cases. Make sure to turn pillow cases inside out and wash in cold or warm water (not hot) to help the linens look better, longer.

Dust mites love hot, humid temperatures, so consider cranking up the air conditioning a little bit more in the summer, and manage your humidity levels with a humidifier.

Many hands make for light work

All of this can amount to a lot of work if only one member of the household is taking on the responsibility. Get your kids to keep their rooms free of dust and allergen hazards. Picking up wet towels, not leaving dirty clothes on the floor, food growing mold on their bedside table are obvious preventive measures. But also look at washing their stuffed animals, and if they have a huge number of trophies (what kid doesn’t, today?) consider moving them out of the bedroom where they are literally gathering dust, and into a box, after taking a picture of them to hang up instead.

Getting the kids involved not only lessens the workload for busy parents, it also teaches them how to clean and tidy to ensure their eventual dorm rooms or apartments also don’t become a hotbed for allergens.

Kathy Buckworth has four children, one of whom has a mold allergy. She chooses to think this is not a reflection of her cleaning abilities. This is a sponsored post.

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