Sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing and a runny nose - this perfectly describes many Australians during springtime. However, this is the reality for many more people year-round. The most common allergies in Australia are house dust mites, cats, peanut and grass pollen. While medication can provide some relief, allergen avoidance is considered the most important aspect of allergy treatment.
Carpets and upholstery are a known reservoir of allergens, and with modern society spending most of their time indoors, it goes without saying that keeping these areas clean should be a priority for allergy sufferers.
Home cleanliness experts recommend vacuuming your carpets and upholstery at least twice a week - perhaps even more in high-traffic areas. This might sound excessive, but carpets, pillows, chairs and couches are the perfect trap for hair, dander and other microscopic irritants. This is particularly true if you have a pet that has a favourite nap spot.
If the key carpet allergen removal is a solid vacuuming routine, then it makes sense to invest in the right equipment. Using a vacuum with poor performance is a waste of both your time and money.
A recent study by the NeuroAllergy Research Laboratory (NARL), at Deakin University examined the effectiveness of allergen removal from wool, nylon and blend carpet via vacuuming and washing. The goal of the study was to determine which model of vacuum or carpet cleaner performed the best. Results indicated that out of all the market-leading carpet washers tested, the Bissell Revolution Pet was most effective for carpet allergen removal. So if you’re an allergy sufferer, investing in the right vacuum and carpet washer can help alleviate your symptoms indoors.
The Right Way To Clean
Most of us have likely been vacuuming our homes for years without questioning the technique - but there is in fact a trick to it. The first thing to remember is always clean in two directions. A back and forth motion coupled with side-to-side sweeps will help ensure all dirt and irritants have been removed. Secondly, make sure you don’t rush the vacuuming process. You’re removing allergens that are invisible to the naked eye, so it’s important to go over carpeted surfaces slowly so no spots get missed. Nailing these techniques is one of quickest and easiest ways to boost carpet allergen removal.
However, the effectiveness of these techniques also relies on the quality of the equipment you’re using. According to the NeuroAllergy Research Laboratory (NARL) study, Bissell Revolution Pet carpet washer performed the best at removing allergens from nylon, blend and wool carpet, amongst the other water-based cleaners tested. In fact, when adopting both the back and forth and diagonal style of cleaning, the Bissell Revolution Pet was able to remove 96% of allergens from nylon carpet, followed by the Bissell CrossWave Pet, Bissell SpotClean, stick vacuum, bagless barrel vacuum and the bagged barrel.
Tackling Other Surfaces
However, it takes more than a strong carpet cleaning technique to fight allergens in your home, especially when you have coffee stains to vacuum. Bacteria and irritants also get trapped in upholstery, so your bi-weekly cleaning routine should also include your couch, bed, cushions and chairs.
If you live in a home with pets, go over your upholstery with a dry brush to scrape away as much residue as possible and to ‘fluff up’ the fabric. Your fabric will look cleaner and it will allow the vacuum suction to reach further into the fibres and remove allergens. Next, use the Bissell SpotClean and go over all upholstery surfaces thoroughly (see above for tips on how to do this effectively).
But don’t just focus on the flat surfaces, make sure you get into the crevices of the furniture to pull up as much debris as possible. Taking these extra steps and using the right tools for the job is essential to fighting the coughing, sneezing and spluttering that comes with living with allergies.
Wash It All Away
Washing carpets and upholstery in your home usually feels like a hassle. Hiring a carpet cleaner or booking a professional to do it takes a lot of money, time, and energy to organise. However, there is a range of wet vacuums and deep cleaning carpet washers on the market that can do the same job as professional-grade equipment. What’s more, water-based cleaners are able to remove 77% more allergens than traditional ‘dry vacuums’.
According to NeuroAllergy Research Laboratory (NARL)’s study, the Bissell Revolution Pet, CrossWave Pet and SpotClean models outperformed other popular cleaners when it comes to removing allergens. The Revolution Pet is designed specifically for deep carpet cleaning, so it was not a surprise to find that it outperformed other appliances. However, the CrossWave Pet multi surface cleaner is primarily designed for cleaning hard surfaces, such as hardwood, tiles etc, and not the fibre piles present in the carpet. Hence, it was a surprise to find it removed up to 40% more allergen from carpets than traditional vacuums. What’s more, the SpotClean is designed for cleaning small areas, but also was superior to traditional vacuums despite this instrument not having a rotating brush feature.
Overall, researchers found that water cleaners can remove up to 66 times more allergens than traditional ‘dry’ vacuums. Therefore, individuals allergic to indoor allergens will likely have more success in removing irritants if they incorporate water-based equipment into their weekly cleaning routine.
In addition, disposal of dry vacuum dust from bagless vacuums presents another risk for potential allergen exposure after you’ve finished vacuuming. Disposal of waste from water-based cleaners may be a lot safer for the allergic individual as allergens are trapped in the water reservoir, which can be safely and easily disposed of, thereby minimising the risk of you accidentally inhaling any irritants.
At the end of the day, the key to reducing the impact of indoor allergens is a solid vacuuming and deep cleaning routine with quality equipment. Being able to effectively remove allergens from your home won’t just ward off the sneezing and itchy eyes, it can improve your sleep, productivity and overall quality of life.