For individuals who suffer allergies or sensitivities, there is no place in the world more important to maintain very clean than one’s own bedroom.
After all, we spend about one-third of our lives in our bedroom. This room can be a constant irritant or it can be a daily oasis.
Common contaminants are dust mites, pet danders, molds and chemicals.
DUST MITES: these extremely small creatures are related to spiders and scorpions and are so small that an average bed contains about 2 million! They do not carry disease and they do not attack humans. On the other hand, they love to eat the dead skin, which has fallen off of humans and animals. Although dust mites are rarely found high in the mountains, they love it where most people live where temperatures are between 68-84 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is 65-80 percent. Western Washington is ideal.
Controlling for dust mites involves keeping the humidity between 40-50 percent and keeping clutter out of the bedroom. Put dust mite covers over pillows and mattresses (and wash these covers monthly). The sheets and pillowcases should be washed in hot water over 130 degrees Fahrenheit on a weekly basis. (Some chemical additives can be used so as to wash in cold water.) Stuffed animals should be eliminated or thoroughly cleaned frequently. Sprays of tannic acid on carpets may help control dust mite growth. HEPA vacuum cleaners used often prevent the spread of dust mite feces: HEPA air filters particularly in the bedroom prevent the recirculation of dust mite waste. Carpeting is commonly a problem and throw rugs on hard surface floors are a better choice since they can be washed. Clear the clutter. Replace old mattresses and pillows.
ANIMAL DANDER: it is almost impossible to avoid exposure to cat dander even if you do not have a cat. Dander can be passed from person-to-person as we bump into each other in public and transfer the dander from clothing. The allergen comes from the salivary glands and sebaceous glands of the cat’s skin: cats groom themselves 30-50 percent of their waking hours and so perpetuate the problem. All breeds of cats can cause allergies.
The best way to control for cat dander is to remove the cat and plan on taking at least six months to rid the house of dander. Washing the cat twice weekly can help prevent higher levels and some chemicals can be placed on the fur to decrease shedding and neutralize the dander. Dogs, birds, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs can also be allergenic. Don’t sleep with them. HEPA filters can help. Clean your furnace filters monthly.
MOLDS: it is surprising how many people have mold in or near their bedrooms either because of there being no bathroom exhaust fan, poor ventilation to draw in fresh air, high humidity, or direct water leaks. If your bedroom looks moldy or smells musty it will be a problem particularly if you’re sensitive to molds or their toxins.
Mold control is simple — keep things clean, dry, and well ventilated. HEPA vacuum the affected area first and then wash mold off with 10 percent bleach solutions or detergents. If mold recurs, look for professional help.
CHEMICALS: chemicals are common in our modern civilization: sensitive individuals can experience a lot of trouble. If you’re sensitive, avoid potpourri, scented candles, plug-in air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, fragranced carpet cleaners, toxic paints, irritating remodeling materials, cigarette smoking, mattresses with flame retardants or pesticides and toxic cleaning solutions.
If you have problems with chemicals or certain molds, you’ll need to have a HEPA/CHEMICAL filter since HEPA filters alone do not remove chemicals from the air.
Thanks to Dr. M. J. Derebery, Allergy Laboratories and National Allergy Supply.