Sneezing, Runny Eyes and Itchy Skin

Every morning, I am blissfully awakened by the sound of Canada geese, honking their way overhead, flying in the great “V” in the sky – No, wait a minute. That’s just my son waking up and sneezing and honking his way into a new day with several allergies.

So what is the connection between clutter and allergies?

First, let’s examine what causes indoor allergies. One huge culprit is dust mites. These are microscopic creatures that live everywhere in your home, but particularly love bedding, cushions and carpets. Enlarged a million times, they resemble the alien that Sigourney Weaver battled, which is terrifying to think about, so let’s don’t.

But it’s not the bugs that are allergenic – it’s their poop. Okay, it’s getting really gross now. Let’s just say that when there is lots of clutter about, it’s harder to clean and thoroughly vacuum and dust. So all that dust mite stuff hangs about, gathering in greater amounts and triggering many sneezing episodes.

What to do? De-clutter.

First, every item in your home is a potential storage container for dust mites and their debris. That includes upholstered furniture, bedding, and piles of things in the corners. To really get a handle on interior allergens, it’s important to thoroughly vacuum and dust regularly (weekly at the minimum). It’s very hard to clean thoroughly if there’s stuff all over the floor and in the corners.

Children’s rooms are prone to stuffed animal clutter – and guess what? Those little bundles of artificial fur and stuffing are little resorts for dust mites. If your child is deeply attached to armies of animals, please limit the number that actually live on the bed. And wash those stuffed animals regularly as well – in very hot water.

Another feast for dust mites are those articles of clothing that you’ve dropped on the floor before going to bed. Yep, they love those piles of fragrant, sweat-infused cloth. So it’s a good idea to either hang them up in a closet or put them in a drawer or throw them in the laundry rather than having a second carpet of dirty socks and shirts.

Closets can also be a haven for dust mites if things are jammed in there and there is no room to breathe. Take this opportunity to go through all your clothes and see what still fits and flatters. Remove the rest in the interest of health. Also, keep the closet doors open every so often to air it out.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to deal with dust mites. But I’m hoping you can see the connection between piles of clutter and piles of dust mite debris. A clear, uncluttered environment will help you clean and reduce indoor allergens.

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