By Jotham Hatch
Fall has arrived and with it brings the impending swarm of fall allergies caused by allergens found both indoors and outdoors. While we have no control over the outdoor allergens, we can help homeowners be proactive in ridding homes of the indoor allergens.
One of the most common triggers for indoor allergies is dust — especially after the heat is turned on for the first time of the season and it has stirred up in the air throughout the home. The tips below can help you advise homeowners on how to minimize dust and other indoor allergens this fall season.
Tricks for Trapping Allergens
It is important to inform homeowners that carpet, upholstery, and other soft furnishings act as the number one filter to keep allergens out of our breathing zone. Placing rugs at doorways both inside and outside will help trap allergens and prevent them from entering and spreading throughout the home.
In addition to placing rugs and mats at entry and exit points, educate homeowners that frequent vacuuming of the carpet, area rugs, upholstery, mattresses, and any hanging drapes will also help remove dust, pet dander, dust mite allergens, and other allergic triggers. Washing their bedding, bathing pets frequently, and changing out the furnace or air filters on a regular basis are other great ways to cut down on allergen-causing contaminants in the home.
Frequency of cleaning
To keep indoor spaces as healthy as possible, advise homeowners to professionally clean and sanitize the items at the frequency presented in the following infographic. (Feel free to download for use.) For homes with kids and pets, it’s best to recommend staying toward the earlier side of the above ranges.
How to properly clean upholstered furniture
While cleaning upholstery may seem challenging to most homeowners, explaining these basic steps will help simplify the process:
Pre-test and inspect: Identify the fiber content, color stability, pre-existing damage, excessive wear, burn marks, pet damage, lose or missing buttons, tears, manufacturer’s markings on the underside of the fabric, etc. Make sure the fiber will not bleed, brown, shrink, or fade from the cleaning process.
Dry soil extraction: Thoroughly vacuum the entire item to remove as much dry soil as possible before applying any moisture.
Wet cleaning: Spray on a light application of cleaner. It’s best to use a cleaner formulated for upholstery fabric and soils. A green-certified, non-toxic cleaning solution works best so as not to cause skin irritation or health concerns.
Agitate: Use a horse hair brush and be careful not to distort the fabric.
Rinse: Thoroughly rinse the fabric using an upholstery tool and a rinsing solution that is a neutral or slightly acidic pH as well as non-toxic, green certified, and low foaming.
Towel dry: Use a clean, dry, terry cloth towel rolled up like a newspaper and rub it along the fabric to pull up remaining moisture and evaluate how effective your cleaning process has been. If the towel comes up dirty, you should re-clean the item.
Groom: If there is a nap to the fabric, set the nap with a horse-hair brush, velvet brush, or towel in a downward direction.
Speed dry: Tent the cushions or pillows and direct an air mover to blow through the inside of the tunnel of cushions and pillows.
And, of course, point out that your company can set up a regular cleaning schedule, as most of these steps are best accomplished by a professional cleaning company.
Selecting a vacuum cleaner
In order to remove allergens like dust and pet dander from the home, homeowners need to understand the importance of an effective vacuum. There are millions of choices when it comes to vacuums, and it can be difficult for homeowners to decide which one is best. In short, the vacuum should remove soil and keep any dust from spreading. To aid in their decision, you can recommend CRI vacuum testing as it does a good job of grading vacuums on their soil removal and dust containment efficacy.
Additionally, the following components are essential when choosing a quality vacuum:
- Micro filtration system: A Hepa-certified filter is superior, but any microfiltration system is better than none.
- Adjustable brush or beater bar: Extraction works best when you can combine it with agitation to help loosen dirt from carpet fibers.
- Bag-style dust containment: Dust cups are convenient but typically don’t perform as well as bag-style containment designs.
- Availability of repair parts: No vacuum will last forever; therefore, consideration should be given to maintenance costs and availability of replacement parts.
Jotham Hatch is the national training director for Chem-Dry, with a global network spanning over 50 countries and serving 11,000 homes and businesses a day worldwide. Chem-Dry uses a green-certified solution and proprietary Hot Carbonating Extraction cleaning process that provide a deeper clean, allow surfaces to dry faster, and leave homes and workplaces healthier. He first joined the company in 2003 as an instructional designer and has spent more than a decade, focusing on training solutions through a variety of mediums including hands-on, face-to-face, online, and text-based methods. A resident of Utah, Jotham graduated from Utah State University and has additional experience as a small business owner and account manager.