Growing up, I wondered why my allergy symptoms got worse after vacuuming. I’d vacuum the carpets in my bedroom then lay on the clean carpet afterward.
I’d take deep breaths because the room was fresh and clean. Or was it?
Surprisingly, cleaning with the wrong type of vacuum can make your allergens worse. Some vacuums can literally blow allergens in the air where they will stay suspended for hours.
There are little-known facts about vacuuming and it’s important to know them if you experience allergies. These facts include:
1) The filter is important
2) Your flooring matters
3) What brand of vacuum are you using
If you aren’t careful, vacuuming could be making your allergies much worse and can make the air in your home more toxic. In the sections below I’ll share my experience with indoor allergies and how vacuuming made my allergies worse.
After visiting an allergist I learned that I was doing things I thought were helpful, but in reality, they made me feel terrible.
How Vacuuming Can Make Allergies Worse
My nose was constantly stuffed up and sometimes my eyes and ears itched. I always felt tired but I thought I needed to toughen up. Because I was young I thought I was resilient.
20 years later I finally went to an allergist. I knew something was wrong. My body began to shut down, my immune system was weak, and I was always tired.
I was allergy tested and found out I reacted to over 100 allergens including dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. That afternoon I sat in the doctor’s office and listened to my allergist give me specific instructions.
His advice detailed how I should organize and clean my home.
#1 HEPA Filters Are Essential For Allergies
If you or someone in your family has allergies you must pay attention to the type of filter on your vacuum. Chances are your vacuum doesn’t have a HEPA filter (only the best vacuums do).
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance and filters 99.97% of particulates from the air. HEPA filters are also used in air purifiers so they really clean the air. They will reduce allergic reactions and the chance of asthma.
It’s surprising, but even many well-known brands don’t use HEPA filters on their vacuums. When you’re looking at an allergy vacuum, it should be listed as a feature. If the vacuum doesn’t have a HEPA filter don’t buy it!
Vacuums with standard filters capture the large dust particulates from the air but their filters are too porous to capture allergens like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.
The result is these vacuums end up blowing allergens around your house.
Dust mite and cat allergens are some of the smallest allergens in the air (we can’t see them unless under a microscope). Once airborne they can remain suspended in the air all day!
#2 It Depends On The Flooring
If you have allergies, the floor in your home really matters (I can’t emphasize it enough). I grew up with carpeting throughout my house and looking back, the carpet harbored all kinds of allergens (dust, dirt, and more).
Eventually, we remodeled the house and removed the carpets (they were 20 years old).
Removing the carpets was eye-opening! The carpets were abnormally heavy and underneath the carpets was a layer of dirt that had built up over the years.
Even though my family vacuumed 2 times a month the vacuum was unable to remove all dirt from the carpet.
After switching to hardwood and tile flooring there wasn’t space for dirt to hide. Vacuuming was only necessary on the couches and rugs because it was easier to use a Swiffer or mop on the hard surfaces.
If your allergies are severe consider getting removing carpets. As a result, you’ll vacuum less!
#3 The Brand Of Vacuum Matters
The brand of vacuum isn’t the most important thing to consider but it’s important to realize that only the best brands will offer HEPA filters on their vacuums.
It’s hard to find a Bissell vacuum with a HEPA filter (Bissell is very well-known).
Two companies that offer HEPA filters are Shark Ninja and Dyson. They have the largest share of the vacuum market in America and many (though not all) of their vacuums offer a HEPA filter (read my article on Shark vs Dyson vacuums)
No matter the brand, make sure it has solid reviews, and a good warranty, and a HEPA filter.
Contrary to what most people would think, vacuuming can make your allergies worse. For years I’d feel good about vacuuming, then feel itchy and irritable for the rest of the day.
Although I was cleaning the house I was blowing dust into the air. Once I learned about my allergies I made changes to my home.
The carpets were removed and I invested in a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Changing the flooring in my house and using a HEPA filter were two decisions that were highly beneficial to my health.
If you’re looking for a new vacuum, go with a brand that has HEPA filter options. You’ll be surprised to find that many well-known companies don’t offer the HEPA feature.
Thanks for reading another Dust Mite Solutions article. These blog posts are created so you don’t have to endure the same symptoms I had. I waited too long to learn about allergies!