Fido, Whiskers, and Tweety are your three favorite companions, but you worry about the effect that they may have on your indoor air quality; how can an animal lover have the pets they adore and cleaner indoor air? By cleaning the air, cleaning the house, and giving your pet his own space, you can lessen the impact that your furry and feathered friends have on the way you breathe.
First, what exactly is the issue? Your pets are constantly shedding dead skin cells. These dead cells are called dander and they can aggravate asthma and allergies. They also happen to be a dust mite’s favorite dinner. There’s no such thing as a totally hypoallergenic pet, since the allergens that come with your best friend are in fur, saliva, feces, and urine as well as dander.
A good first line of defense is keeping your best friends out of the bedroom, where you probably spend eight hours or so breathing deeply any dander and fur that may be in the bedding. If pets don’t come into the room or onto the bed, these allergens are severely limited. Give them their own areas of the house and their own bedding—they’ll still love you. Be sure to purchase pet bedding that can be easily washed to remove dander and fur.
Install a whole-house air cleaner and have your air ducts cleaned or at least inspected regularly. This will help eliminate any dirt, fur, dander, and dust mites that are circulated through your house and into rooms where your pet isn’t allowed.
Change the air filter in your heating and cooling system every month to two months, depending upon the number and size of the animals. Always use a top-quality pleated filter to reduce the number of particles that are recirculated. A HEPA-type filter is best for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Bare floors and low-pile carpet such as Berber are best in pet areas. These surfaces allow less dander and fur to settle in them and are easier to clean. If it’s financially feasible, do a little redecorating to breathe easier.
When cleaning pet areas:
- Vacuum rugs, couches, pillows, curtains, and any other textile that your pets come into contact with at least weekly. Use a HEPA-type filter to avoid the particles blowing back out through the exhaust. Be sure to get the carpet edges where dust accumulates.
- Dust regularly using a wet or treated cloth to trap dust instead of just moving it around.
- Wear a dust mask if you have allergies.
- Don’t forget to clean the pets themselves! Regular grooming reduces dander and fur.
Having pets doesn’t have to be hard on your respiratory system. There are several steps you can take to breathe harmoniously, including opening windows when possible to let clean air in, keeping your pets out of the bedroom, thoroughly cleaning the house often, and installing whole-house air cleaning devices.