One of the best ways to remove allergens from your home is vacuuming — from bare floors to carpeted floors to furniture. When it comes to your child with asthma, effective vacuuming can be a first line of defense.
Many new and effective — but sometimes higher-priced — vacuums are on the market today that can do a top job removing possible allergens from your home. But if some of those tools are out of your price range, there are steps you can take to make the best out of your current vacuuming system or a less expensive system.
Choose Your Model
When looking for a model that will help cut down on allergens, consider not only the efficiency of the filters used but also the machine design as well — machines that get deep down into carpeting. At the top of the line, vacuums with HEPA filters, generally found on upright vacuums, are certified to filter 98 percent of dust particles and have sealed construction that prevents dust and debris from returning to the air.
Other vacuums have similar but less expensive filter systems that work well in vacuuming dust and allergens while preventing them from leaking back into your house. Check publications such as
And, remember that most filters usually require cleaning or replacement on a periodic basis to enable the vacuums to perform at their best.
Bags or Bagless?
Another important factor to consider when using a vacuum is whether they have bags or are bagless. Sometimes with bagless models, you could end up accidentally throwing dust and allergens back into the air when you clean the vacuum.
When using bags, remember to fill the vacuum bags only half way up to ensure that you get the maximum suction power from your vacuum. By avoiding overfilling, you can help limit the amount of dust and debris that leaks out when your remove the bags. Also consider using double-thickness bags — instead of single-thickness bags — to cut down on dust emissions.
To avoid the bag and bagless debate, some families have chosen to use the central vacuum method that automatically cleans floors in a home through a central system. When using this system, the central vacuum bag is usually located outside of the house, such as in the garage, and is usually changed a few times a year.
To get the most out of vacuuming carpets — while removing allergens — resist the temptation to quickly run through this job. Instead, remember to vacuum slowly over an area several times to carefully draw out the dirt and debris.
For tiled or wooden floors, take several other precautions if you use a vacuum. First, remember to disconnect or shut off the beater brush because it could end up kicking the dust, dirt, and debris (and potential asthma triggers) back up into the air — where you don't want it. As an alternative, also consider using attachments that just suck up the dirt.
Many vacuums have special attachments and brushes designed particularly for cleaning furniture, including mattresses. Attachments are often included with vacuums to clean draperies and curtains as well. These attachments can also be useful in tackling the hidden parts of your home — under furniture, along baseboards, along hanging light fixtures and ceiling fans, on entrance rugs, and in corners.
Don't forget that dust and dirt are not only on the floor. A commonly overlooked area when vacuuming is upholstered furniture. While vacuuming can't totally eliminate house dust mites and other asthma triggers, it can lower their population.