As spring approaches, homeowners are preparing for the annual spring cleaning ritual to restore and rejuvenate the appearance of their home. However, many people are unaware of the more important reason for performing these tasks - their family's health. The home is a huge collector of germs and allergy-inducing dust mites during the winter months, which can lead to illness and jeopardize the health of the home and family. With Americans spending approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, spring cleaning becomes even more essential to creating a safe and healthy living space.
Dust mites – the most common cause of asthma and allergies – thrive in warm, dark areas of the home including carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, curtains and mattresses. A good, thorough house cleaning that includes those areas typically cleaned less often can reduce the allergic triggers caused by dust mites and reduce other health risks for the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies. To remove the unwanted dirt, allergens and germs that have been lingering and breeding all winter, Chem-Dry, the world’s leading carpet and upholstery cleaning service, has made it their mission to educate families on proper cleaning methods to ensure the health and well-being of their home and loved ones.
“Spring is typically the time of year when people feel like cleaning is more of a fresh start than a chore,” said Dan Tarantin, CEO of Chem-Dry. “At Chem-Dry, our goal is to educate homeowners on the most effective cleaning methods so they can celebrate and fully enjoy the start of nicer weather. By raising awareness of the importance of a clean home for optimal health, we aim to make every home a cleaner, safer, healthier and happier place to live.”
The experts at Chem-Dry recommend the following techniques for overlooked germ hotspots to help minimize germs and reduce allergens this spring.
- Tile. Porous grout, tile and stone can act like a magnet for dirt, dust and grimy particles such as mold spores. As undesirable particles gather on stone and tile surfaces, they can easily become a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria in addition to masking the original color of the tile. To clean tile in the bathroom and kitchen, it’s best to use a neutral pH tile cleaner in order to protect any previously applied sealers.
- Furniture Upholstery. Upholstered furniture including sofas, love seats, recliners and dining room chairs provide a cozy haven for dust mites. To reduce dust build-up, thoroughly vacuum fabric-covered furniture and wash removable upholstery covers in hot water, letting them air dry.
- Carpets, Rugs and Mats. Carpeting, rugs and mats accumulate dust and can become a feeding ground for microscopic dust mites. They pick up everything from pet urine to toenails and can hold approximately 200,000 bacteria per square inch. So it’s important to deep clean the area underneath rugs and mats as well. Bacteria and germs hiding in carpet fibers are not killed by vacuuming alone and should be cleaned by a professional three times a year.
- Curtains and Blinds. Window curtains and blinds collect dust and dirt easily. Remove dust build-up by shutting blinds and dusting with a microfiber cloth. Next, close blinds in the opposite direction for a quick, thorough wipe-down using a non-toxic window cleaner and clean cloth.
- Mattress. The average bed holds up to 10,000 dust mites, which can cause hay fever, asthma and allergies. Mattresses are a dust mite’s paradise as people sweat up to a half pint of moisture each night and shed up to nine pounds of skin each year while they sleep. Vacuum the mattress thoroughly and turn it over. Mattresses should be vacuumed at least once a month and turned over every six months to reduce dust mites.
- On Top of Furniture. The tops and surfaces of furniture can be overlooked and easily collect dust. When cleaning surfaces such as table tops and shelves, use a dryer sheet as a dust cloth; not only will it pick up dust mites, but it will eliminate static and make it harder for particles to adhere to the surface. To save time, dust before vacuuming the floors since dust and debris will fall to the floor.
- Behind Stove and Refrigerator. Over time, crumbs, grease and other unwanted particles accumulate in these areas, providing a food source for insects and other pests. If possible, move the appliance out from the wall and unplug. Using a long-handled, slightly damp sponge, mop the back of the appliance to lift dust from the surface and then wipe the floor and walls with hot soapy water.
By cleaning regularly throughout the year, spring cleaning won’t feel like such a daunting task. To increase the cleanliness and healthfulness of the home, the EPA recommends that most homes have their carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned at least two to three times per year while bathrooms, kitchens, walls and tile or stone surfaces are generally recommended for a professional cleaning every 12 months. Chem-Dry adds that close to 70 percent of its customers schedule a spring cleaning service with one of its 2,000 U.S. locations, partly to increase home health but also for the physical and emotional benefit of making the home a cleaner and happier place to be for the start of warmer weather.