Affected By Pet Allergies?
Between 500,000 and l million hospital yearly visits are result of patient allergic reactions to pet dander, fungi, mites and bacteria.
According to Dr Michael Berry, world renowned indoor air quality expert, carpeting and fabrics not cleaned and properly maintained have the potential to cause a variety of health problems inside the building environment. Pet allergens is one issue I’d like to elaborate on.
Dogs, cats and most inside pets can bring allergens into a home, from their hair, by their oily secretions emitted from their sebaceous glands and their saliva. This dander, most smaller than human dandruff, sheds constantly from the body and sticks to everything they come in contact with. While dogs and cats both pose threats, cats cause more severe allergic reactions than other pets. The major cat allergen is extremely potent, especially in males. Also, whether the pet is short hair, long hair, shedding types, non– shedding types, they can all be trouble.
To complicate things dust mites thrive on skin flakes and dander, pet or human, and are another major cause of allergies.
Allergy Issue? Mites are a health concern as they are a major cause of allergies.
Mites live off skin flakes and dander. They are more prevalent in bedding, and in carpeted bedrooms and where people groom and dress. Mites also have a sticky secretion that allows them to attach to fiber very effectively. Vacuuming does not remove mites very well.
Keep Carpet or Tear It Out? (Don’t be so quick to answer this question)!
Removing of carpet results in making the dust particulates become more airborne and your lungs become one of the filters.
While it is the trend to replace carpet with wood , tile, stone or the new luxury vinyl products, what happens to the dust, hair and dander inherent in your home? For example, you open a door and the dust bunny on the floor moves across the floor surface. That is because the hard surface floor does not act as a filter. Instead the dust rolls along or is stirred up and becomes airborne. So, as the dust becomes more airborne our lungs therefore become the filter.
Want to hear something about carpet and whether to keep or tear it out? Read this. (It’s not what you think!)
In 1973, based on anecdotal evidence that carpet contributed to allergic reactions, the Swedish government banned the use of carpet in all public bldgs. Carpet was replaced with hard flooring materials in homes, commercial environments, government buildings & carpet market share fell from approximately 20% of the market share to less than 2% of the total flooring market share. Follow-up studies by the Swedish Central Statistics Bureau indicated a dramatic increase in reported allergies by the Swedish population following carpet replacement. As carpet was removed and hard surface flooring was installed, the incidence of allergy increased among the Swedish population following this alarming increase was in direct proportion to the amount of hard flooring materials installed. This ban was removed after 17 years when the dramatic increase in allergic reactions was confirmed. And the rate of allergic reactions dissipated.
Does vacuuming remove pet allergens?
Pet dander and mites have a sticky substance that makes vacuuming highly ineffective. However carpet cleaning studies reveal that more than 99% of biologicals, mites and allergens collected by carpet and fabric can be removed with professional carpet cleaning, namely with the hot water extraction method.
Just think about it, hot water has a cleansing effect all on its own, killing bacteria when hot water above 140 degrees hits it alone. Then combine cleaning agents that also clean you get an enhanced cleaner outcome. Then when you add the strong psi of the hot water, together with the strong vacuum suction of the wand, well this cleaning is highly effective at removing bacteria, fungi, allergens and other chemicals and contaminants from carpet and fabrics.
How To Get Rid of or Minimize Pet Dander, Mites and Allergens
First off, if a pet no longer will reside in the house this one time cleaning will eradicate the pet allergens. If you are a pet lover and can tolerate your pet in your home, these tips will also help to reduce the pet allergens in your home. (We have clients who clean regularly because they love their pets and find this helps them better tolerate the allergens-note, consult your allergist or doctor about whether this is suitable for your sensitivity.)
- Do a thorough “Spring Cleaning” – use a disinfectant to clean and sanitize hard surfaces, walls, floors and fixtures
- Clean draperies and soft window treatments – be careful, these are delicate, but best to launder or take to dry cleaner, or if elaborate, have them professionally cleaned
- Get your upholstery and mattresses professionally cleaned – remember when you have dermal contact with these surfaces yours and your pets skin flakes, hair and body oils shed on to these surfaces. And therefore the fabrics and bedding become food sources for dust mites. And to be frank, the decomposing mite skeletons are food source for bacteria, which is an allergy aggravation.
- Have your carpets and tiled floors with grout professionally steam cleaned with hot water extraction*- including closets and the basement. Closets, where you take clothing on and off there will be higher counts of dust mites because of skin flakes being a food source.
- Ask the professional carpet cleaner to apply Teflon – Much of our textiles are treated with Teflon and anti-microbial, it is all around us. Teflon forms a supple barrier on the fiber surface which makes the dust particulate easier to remove with vacuuming. Just like a Teflon pan is easier to wipe clean, so it a Teflon treated surface.
- Change all HVAC filters, and consult with an HVAC Expert about installing such things as UV light treatments – And for especially sensitive people (like myself), you may want to entertain having air scrubber filtration installed, and even a low level ionizer. Also, consult with them about adequate fresh air exchange.
- Schedule an air duct cleaning – call and ask me, I am quite impressed with Duct Dr of Cherry Hill. I personally have a bizarre onset of reactions to strong VOCs, and now aerosolized fats. For me cooking inside my home now gives me migraines. Yes, that’s right, baked chicken, sauteing in butter, frying bacon. This is absurd, and a life altering problem for me. So yes, we had our air ducts cleaned, and are consulting for better fresh air exchange and treatments with the above mentioned systems added to our HVAC units.
- Consider self standing air cleaners – when lock down hit we purchased an air filter, freestanding, to handle all the cubic feet of air volume in our house.
- Consider professional air treatments – because we do odor control remediation for folks, we have used ionization and air hydrolyzers and chemical dioxide treatments. Better handled by a professional, some of these treatments cannot be used in occupied structures. Some mimic lightning, and destroy the odor causing molecules.
Did you know that an average whole house professional carpet cleaning of the carpets in your home removes about 8 pounds of dirt?
What you can do to help reduce allergens in your home (in addition to the above), or on a scheduled no times per year:
- Wash sheets in hot water (synthetic), and in warm water for cotton sheets weekly.
- Wash bedding & mattresses 4 x yearly, or take outside on a sunny day (mites die in sunlight).
- Schedule professional carpet cleaning 2 x per year, especially in your bedrooms.
- Open doors and windows on a crisp day, even a cold one- our indoor air we breathe is contaminated from all the chemicals and aggravates (from cooking, gas odors, pilot lights, carbon on greased mechanisms, fertilizers, pesticides, carbon from candles, hair spray, the list goes on and on.
- Schedule pet grooming regularly.