Dust mite allergy?

NilaJonesMarch 16, 2013

I am hoping some of you smart folks can help me out :).

I have a pretty severe dust mite allergy, and it's really impacting my ability to declutter. I'm hoping you all will have some suggestions.

In the public spaces of the house, it's not too bad. If I want to clean out a file drawer in the living room, for example, I can just make sure there are no fans on, lay clean sheets over the couch and the area on the floor where I do yoga, do my project, and then wash the sheets afterward (which still takes longer than the actual decluttering project, but anyway...)

Where I really have trouble is in the bedroom. If I want to clean out a cabinet there, I have to cover every surface in the room with sheets, including the clothes on the closet shelves, the trunk, two layers on the bed, etc. Then I have to wash all those sheets PLUS the curtains, and mop the floor, or I have a massive allergy attack that keeps me up all night. This is on top of the 3 kinds of allergy meds I take.

So, you can see this means that 15 minutes of tidying requires several hours of prep and cleanup. I try to consolidate, and only declutter when I have time to do lots of it in one day -- but I rarely have such a large chunk of time. Meanwhile, there is mess I would really like to get rid of!

One way I am dealing with is is by (gradually, when I have time to do the prep and cleanup), just moving stuff out of the bedroom. Makeup, jewelry, perfume, coats and scarves, etc. now live in other parts of the house. So do the bins I used to have under the bed. I miss having that storage space, but accessing it it was just too dusty. I am also working on getting allergy shots, but that will be a multi-year project.

To be clear, my problem is with the dust hours or days later, not while I am working. I can just wear a mask, then :).

Has anyone else dealt with this, or do you have some ideas? It's really cramping my style!

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My dust mite allergy isn't that bad, but I'm wondering if there isn't a spare bedroom or other area where you could do your sorting and contain the dust to that room. That way you could move the stuff to that room in small stages (such as the contents of one or two drawers) to go through them, with a mask, wipe or vacuum things off as you sort and return the items that are staying after they are clean and sorted back to the bedroom or living room etc. As an added precaution, you could even use large plastic containers or bags to gently put the contents in and quickly cover them to limit any dust flying around while you transport to the sorting area?

This post was edited by trancegemini_wa on Sat, Mar 16, 13 at 5:24

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:17AM
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Thanks trancegemini!

I do take things in another room (or outside) when possible, but I had not thought of dropping a garbage bag or sheet over them before picking them up. That will help :).

Some things are not pick-up-able, e.g large cabinet or trunk. Another issue is that the space behind something I need to get rid of tends to be very dusty, and moving it exposes that dust.

For example (bugging the heck out of me right now) a stack of boxes from things we kept in case we need to return. Like, the last 3 versions of cell phones (!!). I am dying to recycle those, but there will be dust behind them and on two other inaccessible side of the stack (wedged between bed and large cabinet) so I'm looking at 10 minutes of recycling and 3-4 hours of dust cleanup :(((.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:41PM
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You're doing the right thing by paring down and getting rid of those things. I did this in our bedroom a few years ago and just got rid of anything out of the bedroom that didn't need to be there so it wouldn't collect dust, and I don't have to move things around to dust in there. I also have a little dusting brush for my vacuum cleaner that makes quick work of it, it's just a little round brush with long bristles but it doesn't "attach" to things and try to suck them up and I use that on everything, from the furniture to the lamps, clock radios, the headboard, the baseboards, even a book sitting on the nightstand, I literally vacuum everything in the room to pick up any dust and it goes straight into the vac instead of the air. It would take me forever to do it with a cloth, but I had to get all the extras from the room first to even be able to do that. I was finding that the bedroom was the most common place my allergies kicked in too. Stick with it, and you will get there to a point where it's easier to maintain

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:45AM
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This might be a bit weird to suggest, but had you considered getting a friend, relative, or hiring someone to do the cleaning, decluttering for you, with you in another room skyping with the person? That way the cleaner just holds something up for you to see on the computer, you say Keep, throw, give away, and you don't have to be in the room at all. I know this is a little out there, but it does sound like your allergies merit extreme measures.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:28AM
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While I have a dust mite allergy, it's not nearly as bad as yours.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head, without knowing all the details of your situation:

Vacuum the stuff you are decluttering first. Then wipe down as much as possible with a damp cloth or Swiffer cloth to trap more of the dust and keep it from getting into the air. You wouldn't be able to do that with paper, but it might help with boxes and things. If you are worried about the vacuum picking up tiny objects, you can rubber-band a piece of old pantyhose or trouser sock around the end of the vacuum hose.

Get a helper. You protect your bedroom with sheets and then have the helper go in and remove things you want to declutter or sort through and put them somewhere else for you to do the actual work. You'd still need to protect the work area, but you could protect your room once, and get several weeks of decluttering projects out of there and into a space that's easier to deal with.

Have you tried air filters? They help some people. Others not so much.

Or, looking at things the other way round, take some of the stuff you need to wash/protect out of the bedroom until it is decluttered. Take down the curtains and put them away temporarily. Move the trunk to another room. Get as much stuff that needs to be protected and/or cleaned after a decluttering session out of your room, until it is completely decluttered. Then you can move stuff back in.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Thank you, folks :).

I should probably repeat that allergies during the work are not an issue for me -- I can prevent that. It's 4 or 5 hours later, when the dust stirred up from moving things has settled and I am trying to sleep that's the problem.

I have had some help, mostly with laying and removing the sheets. The sorting, again, is not a problem.

I can't use a vacuum because of the air movement it causes. But a spray bottle full of water works great! I spray everything before I touch it, to hold the dust still. Then I wipe it off with a wet cloth, even if there is no visible dust.

The difficulty is in areas that are not reachable with a sprayer. For example, behind junk.

I did get an air filter and was all excited about it, but it did not seem to actually make any difference :(.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:09PM
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You need a helper to go in with a HEPA filter bag in a vacuum and de-dust things.

Remove the draperies, strip the bed and cover it with protective material, and remove the rugs ... then have the helper go in and vacuum everything and remove everything you want to work on, vacuuming it as he/she goes.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:23PM
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I read an article on allergies and it said you need one room in that house that has no fabrics. That is not the term they used, they said carpet, curtains, etc.. It made sense to me. I think it would also help to spray a dust rag with spray before you start dusting, so it will cling to the rag instead of fly through the air. I found this below about treating the home for people with allergies.

Here is a link that might be useful: Treating homes for allergies

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Thanks, you two :). The article was a good reminder.

We don't have carpet or draperies, just bare floor and small curtains I can put in the washer.

Gah. I am having an allergy attack right now because, this afternoon, I moved one small box the size of a notebook. Didn't touch anything else, just picked it up and carried it to the kitchen, with two layers of dust covers over the bed.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 12:59AM
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Debra Wright

I used to know someone that had dust allergies that sprayed everything with diluted tea tree oil, (melaleuca oil), including the air. She swore it helped her immensely. She even took a bottle with her when traveling to spray the bedding, carpets, etc, in motel rooms. Melaleuca oil is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities.

It's worth a shot.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:46PM
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If it's that bad ... hire someone to strip the bedroom of ALL clutter in one session and keep it that way.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Nilajones, I went to bed last night thinking about your dilemma. If I understand the main problem is that you must sleep in the room after the dust gets stirred up and then resettles? Perhaps on your bed and pillows? How about sleeping in another room for a night or two? Is that a possibility? In a perfect world you could have a separate "sleeping chamber" that had nothing but your bed. You could keep it like one of those "clean rooms" that electronics manufacturers have. I'm guessing that is not an option.
A couple of things: Do you have forced air heating? If so, I think I'd find the best filters for it and change them often. If you have a 2-stage furnace keep your fan running continuously. Our furnace man says this improves the air quality year round. Seems to be working for us.
Also, while shopping for a vacuum cleaner I saw some that were sealed. I would look into that. They don't throw the dust around.
And lastly, would using a hand steamer to actually kill the dust mites help?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Oh, thanks, you folks, for thinking about me so usefully :). You have given me a lot of good ideas.

I guess the problem is that when we moved in here my allergies were much less bad, and so I did not set things up properly. But i will do as y'all suggest, and hire someone, and do a bit of a 'clean room' :).

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:22AM
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If you can't get a helper to remove things from your bedroom for you, can you take out a lot of stuff all at once to sort through later?

First, just take the curtains down and take them out of the room. Same with the bedding and anything else you might have to wash. This way, they will be out of the room completely when the dust flies and you won't have to wash them later.

Then cover everything with the dust sheets.

Then don your goggles, tie up your hair in a bandana and put on your face mask and rubber gloves. Gather your dust rags and sally forth.

Wipe down everything you are removing, put in it boxes or bags and then carry the full containers to an area you have designated as your work area.

When you finish, close your bedroom door and leave it alone for 12-24 hours. Then go back in and remove the dust sheets and wash them. Leave the bedroom alone for another 12 hours, to let any dust settle, then you can go back in and put the curtains up and remake the bed.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 7:49AM
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One problem is the house is only two rooms, bedroom plus kitchen/living area. Like a small apartment. Also, no garage and no closets. So, for example, if my clothes are not in the bedroom they would have to be in the living room.

I found on craigslist today a glass 'display cabinet' that might be perfect to replace open shelving in the bedroom. I will see it tomorrow. It sounds lovely and dust free :).

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Would it be possible for you to hook a hose to your vacuum's exhaust? The ideal would be to hang the hose out a window so that the exhaust isn't stirring up dust inside your house. If outside venting is impossible, you might consider rigging something that would hold the venting hose near the ceiling of the room you're vacuuming. Point the end of the hose upward. You'd probably still have some dust stirred up, but air blowing near the ceiling might be better than air blowing on the floor, where the most dust usually "lives".

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:50PM
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One thing that stands out for me that you said is that when you moved there your allergies were not as bad....how long have you been there, and WHY are they getting or have gotten worse? Is there something going on in your environment exacerbating your allergies, such as mold, outdoor pollutants, indoor off-gassing, chemicals in the ground or being released by manufacturing plants, contaminated food or well-water, etc. etc. ????

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:52AM
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I have severe allergies also. I have two prescription nasal sprays, I take Allegra and I get allergy shots. Started out with 3 shots twice a week, and now almost 3 years later I'm down to getting them once every 3 or 4 weeks.

I took the carpet out of our bedroom. I have the allergy protecting covers on my mattress and pillows. I bought an air cleaner.

I understand the dust in the air hours later. I would put a box fan in the window and have it blowing out. Leave the bedroom door open so there's air flow. That should help suck out the dust from the air.

I feel your pain, allergies are horrible. I hope you find something that helps.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 8:16AM
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One other thought, I use this regularly. Espcially after dusting, running the sweeper, etc. You can use it as often as needed. It really, really helps. Make sure you use the salt packets that come with it. My pharmacist told me not to use regular salt because it's too harsh for nasal passages and can leave a residue. She also told me to use distilled water. You can buy just the packets of salt separately after buying the kit.

After mixing the water and salt in the bottom I zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so so it is warm.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 8:31AM
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The fact that your dust mite allergy is worse in the bedroom is very telling. The allergy is actually to the mites' feces, not the mites themselves.

If you have carpet in there, you need to rip it out, ASAP.

If you can't purchase new mattresses, you need to get one of those zippered plastic sacks and put your mattress in one and your box spring in another.

Buy new pillows or launder your current ones in hot water.

Wipe down all surfaces, then vacuum well and wipe down again.

Wash all fabrics -- clothing and linens -- in warm water, or place in a plastic bag for a time.

You have an extremely high concentration of mites in your bedroom which could be the root cause of your problem. A normal amount of mites may not aggravate your allergies at all.

Good luck. Allergies are just miserable.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 1:38AM
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I agree with DayByDay.

I have dust mite allergies along with a ton of other allergens. I did the weekly shot treatment when I was younger which helped a great deal.

You need to go around the room and see what might have mites on it the worse. Usually the mattress and pillows hold the stuff in and stuffed animals. I usually vacuum my mattress to help it some.

Curtains need to be cleaned and any rugs or complete removal of them.

Definitely try to find a helper. Just go in and tell them what you want done. If you have to try to put bags or something over the objects to take them outside.

Plan out a time to do the cleaning and a time later that you will be gone long enough for the dust to settle back down.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:04AM
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