Housework probably isn’t your favorite activity, but you do the basics: vacuuming, mopping, laundry. When it comes to the bedroom, however, cleanliness not only keeps the space looking better, it keeps it healthier, as well. Breathing dusty air and lying near grime for the eight hours you’re asleep each night does nothing to improve the condition of your respiratory system, and if you are susceptible, it can even cause a flair-up of allergy or asthma symptoms. But there’s more to a really clean bedroom than just changing the sheets each week and vacuuming the floors. If you really want to get down and (un)dirty in the fight against allergens, don’t forget to clean the following nine spots; all are typically overlooked on housework day.
It’s not easy to see the top of your ceiling fan blades, nor is it typically easy to reach the fan, but if you climb on the bed or a chair to take a look, you’ll likely be shocked at the amount of accumulated dust. And just imagine: when you switch that fan on to enjoy a cooling breeze on a sweltering summer night, that dust is flying out into the air, then slowly settling all over your bed and all over you. Avoid that sneeze-inducing scenario by wiping down the fan blades at least twice each year. To contain the mess, stand safely on a chair, stepstool or the mattress, and then slide a pillowcase over each blade in turn, using the fabric to contain the dust. When you finish, shake the pillowcase outside, and then toss it in the wash.
You wash your sheets, but do you ever clean your mattress? If not, you’re doing the dust mites a favor: allowing them to live (and reproduce) undisturbed. Mattresses not only accumulate dust mites, they also gather dust, shed hair, skin flakes, sweat and body oils. Not a pleasant thought as you climb into bed each night. Once each season, strip your bed completely. While the bedding is in the wash, sprinkle baking soda over the surface of your mattress, then vacuum it thoroughly. Once done, flip the mattress head to toe to cut down on the development of sags and valleys. Re-make the bed with your clean sheets and bedding and enjoy a good night’s sleep free of allergens.
Under the Bed
Many people vacuum around the bed, but not underneath it. And that’s the prime breeding ground for dust bunnies – ugly swirls of shed hair, dust, dust mites, and dirt from your shoes. Take an extra couple of minutes and use your vacuum’s hose attachment to suck away the dust buildup from under your bed. Your nose and lungs will thank you.
This is another area typically forgotten on vacuuming day. And it’s true; moving your shoes and laundry basket is inconvenient, but when you see the amount of dust hiding in your bedroom closet’s corners, you’ll be glad you took the time. The reward is not only a cleaner bedroom: it’s also cleaner shoes and clothing. Plus, if you take the time to vacuum the closet floor once a month or so, it gives you a chance to reorganize your shoes and take inventory of your footwear. Now isn’t that worth a few minutes of extra work?
Humidifier or Air Purifier
A bedside humidifier works wonders on arid winter nights, restoring the moisture that central heating sucks away from your skin, eyes, and throat. And an air purifier is a good idea any day of the year, working hard to remove dust, germs, and chemicals from the air you breathe. But if left untended for too long, both of these bedroom electronics can become health hazards themselves. Change the water in a humidifier every day, and follow the recommended schedule for cleaning the filters and washing the humidifier tank. The same goes for your air purifier: clean or change the filter on schedule. Otherwise, the device won’t do a good job of cleaning the air.
Houseplants are nature’s own air purifiers – but like everything else, they gather dust. Not only does that dim their good looks, it also makes it harder for the plant to carry out respiration through its leaves. Do yourself and your plants a favor, and clean the leaves a few times per year. Small plants can be rinsed in the sink or bathtub; carry larger plants outside and use the hose to rinse them down. If neither of those are an option, use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe off the plant’s leaves.
Whether you have drapes, shades or blinds, window treatments are dust magnets. And each time you open or close them, dust flies out into the bedroom air. If you can’t wash your drapes – or simply want to avoid the hassle of taking them down, and then rehanging them -- use your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment to wisk away accumulated dust. You can also use the upholstery attachment on shades or blinds, or use a microfiber cloth to wipe the window treatments clean.
Even with a pillowcase for protection, your pillow absorbs sweat, drool, and hair oil; and also hosts a hefty population of dust mites. Not all types of pillows are easily cleaned, however: typically, memory foam, buckwheat hull, and latex pillows cannot be washed. You’re usually okay machine-washing down, polyester and shredded memory foam pillows, though. Check your pillow’s care tag for specifics. If the pillow is okay for the washing machine, use the hottest water that’s safe per the manufacturer, and then dry the pillow thoroughly before restoring it to your bed. Pillows should be cleaned at least every few months, but more often if you suffer with allergies or asthma. And if that’s the case, avoid pillow fills that can’t be machine washed.
Doorknobs and Light Switch Plates
You touch your home’s doorknobs and switch plates dozens of times each day, and at least some of those times, bacteria and viruses lingering on your hands take advantage of the chance to jump ship. That means there’s a slowly increasing film of germs, sweat and other grungies on those commonly overlooked spots. It’s super-easy to clean them off, however; use antibacterial wipes or a vinegar/water solution on a rag to wisk away the germs, fingerprints and grunge. While you’re at it, wipe down the drawer pulls and knobs on your bedroom furniture, as well.