Cleaning when you have asthma can be tricky. You NEED to clean pretty regularly to keep dust, mold, and other irritants at bay. But a lot of conventional cleaners can be asthma triggers and pollute the air in your home. Whether you or someone in your home has asthma, or you are just looking to use less toxic cleaners in your home, you will benefit from my asthma-friendly cleaning routine.
I have had asthma since I was 7 years old, but I didn’t have many problems with it as an adult. This past winter we all came down with the flu right after Christmas. For whatever reason that virus triggered my asthma and started me on a 6 month rollercoaster of sickness and completely uncontrolled asthma. I tried med and med, and was breathing at about 43% per the spirometer. Not being able to breathe is SCARY, and since my asthma wasn’t responding to meds I was terrified of a COPD diagnosis.
Six months and LOTS of trial and error later my asthma is finally under control. I hate to jinx myself, but I almost feel back to normal! That experience made me take a hard look at the chemicals I was using in my life and how I could “clean up” my cleaning routine. I’ve talked about some of my favorite natural cleaners before, but now I have a concrete system that has been working well.
Asthma-Friendly Cleaning Routine
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology dust mites are a common asthma trigger. They recommend things like removing carpet from your home. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option for me right now, but I had to figure out how to minimize dust in my very old house.
I have always vacuumed more than the average bear (there are some upsides to having OCD!), but keeping my house completely dust free kicked it up a notch. Not only do I vacuum, more frequently (I am to hit the main living areas every day), I pay a lot more attention to the vacuum I am using.
I am saving up to get a Rainbow Vacuum someday because it filters the first through water and purifies the air, so it is probably the most asthma and allergy friendly vacuum available. In the meantime I use my Shark Duoclean Rocket downstairs and Dyson Animal upstairs. I really like both vacuums, but both need to be maintained meticulously to actually help keep dust and dirt contained. The Dyson has two filters that need to be cleaned quarterly. I like to replace HEPA filter once a year or so. I also wipe down the dust cup, etc. on a regular basis. The Shark loses suction a lot faster than my Dyson, so I use these replacement filters about every 6 months. They make it run like new again!
Keeping The Air Clean
I was stunned to read about how impure a lot of our indoor air is. Household cleaners, carpet, and outdoor pesticides are just a few of the things that can bring your air quality down. When my breathing was at it’s worst I got this little air purifier to run when I was sleeping. It works great, and I am stunned to see what the filter catches! Make sure you change the filters oil these regularly, too.
I haven’t been big on air fresheners or burning candles since I got into essential oils, but when my asthma got bad I completely got rid of these things. I just diffuse essential oils to make the house smell good. My most-used diffuser blend is lemon, lavender, and peppermint (about 3 drops of each). If you want to know more about the essential oils I use, check out my oils page. Not only does it smell fresh, it’s great to support normal breathing. I have found Himalayan salt lamps to be a satisfying alternative to candlelight. Plus the salt lamps help to purify the air!
I was never super concerned about what cleaning products I used, but this is another area that has completely changed. i had to toss the Mrs. Meyer’s and other heavily scented products until I found ones with smells that did not trigger me. The only dish soap I have been able to tolerate so far is the Young Living Thieves dish soap. I am also still using their Thieves cleaner, and have switched to their laundry soap, too. For everything else I use my Force of Nature cleaner. Force of Nature is a cleaning system that turns salt, water, and vinegar into an all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer that is as effective as bleach. It is completely non-toxic, and has been rated by the Mayo clinic as skin-safe and 100% top allergen free. Their web site explains the science behind it, but I have been using it for over 6 months and I love it. I use it for deodorizing and sanitizing things like doorknobs, sinks and the bathroom.
The way we clean can be just as important as the products we use. I ditched my microfiber duster that was super easy to use, but was pushing dust into the air. Now I use a damp, cotton cloth so the dust is trapped on the cloth and not flying through the air (cotton is WAY more environmentally friendly than microfiber, too). Make sure you are dusting and wiping EVERYTHING down, including kitchen cabinets and backsplashes, tops of door frames, etc.
Scrub or mop hard surfaces at least once a week. We have a few vinyl floors and some original hardwood. I use Thieves cleaner on all of these. Don’t forget to wash any washable rugs once a month or so. I also wash my curtains 2-4 times a year. It’s amazing how dusty they get!
The less clutter you have sitting around the house, the less dust will collect. Keeping textiles and pillows to a minimum also helps. I wash the throw blankets in my living room monthly, and the throw pillows on my couch twice a year. Twice a year my husband moves the furniture and we give it a deep cleaning and vacuum thoroughly underneath.
Making some of these simple changes has not only made it easier for me to sleep the house clean, it has drastically improved how well I am breathing. Even if no one in your house has asthma, you should be concerned about the air quality in your house! I hope these tips inspire you make the changes you need to breathe easier.