Pet allergies might not be a problem for you, but there’s a decent chance one of your guests can’t sit around dander without sneezing or coughing. And even if a dog is taken out of the house, it takes a certain amount of time for dander levels to go down significantly.
“Studies show that it may take as many as six months before allergen levels become low enough so as not to cause a clinical reaction,” says Dr. Andrew S. Kim, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Centers in Virginia.
But we challenge you to find a pet owner who would be willing to send her furry friend away for one-half of a year — it’s not going to happen! So let’s focus on more realistic solutions.
Luckily, Kim says, “aggressive cleaning of homes may reduce allergen levels.” And while hours spent vacuuming, dusting, and sanitizing your home doesn’t sound like fun, it’s one reasonable way to ensure your guests will be comfortable in your house during the holidays and beyond.
Here’s what you can do to get your pet-friendly house ready for pet allergy-prone guests. (Or even owners!)
1. Give your dog the spa treatment
A good bath can temporarily reduce the number of allergens on your pet, says Kim. Sadly, the results are only temporary. Two-to-three days afterward, your pet’s allergens will be back to baseline. For even better results, try bathing your dog with an allergen-reducing shampoo.
2. Roll up your rugs
“Carpets are a greater reservoir of pet allergens versus a polished floor,” says Kim. Therefore, remove those fur catchers from your hardwood or tile floor, so you can vacuum up pet hair.
3. Turn on your air conditioner
Doing so will help keep humidity levels in your house low.
“Higher numbers of airborne allergens are found in homes with high humidity,” Kim says.
4. Dust before your guests arrive
Aim to do this a day or two before their arrival.
“This will give dander time to settle out of the air,” says Leslie Reichert, cleaning coach and author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning.”
5. Take up vacuuming as a hobby
“Regular vacuuming or three-times-weekly vacuuming may temporarily reduce allergen levels,” Kim says. So get into it!
6. Change your vacuum bag
Each time you vacuum, be sure to change or clean the filter. You should also change the bag or empty the dust cup.
“This will make sure you aren’t spreading dander around the house,” Reichert says.
7. Don’t forget to vacuum your furniture
Even if your pets aren’t allowed on your couch, “their dander is airborne, so it will be on all the surfaces of your home,” Reichert says. Use your vacuum attachments to clean all fabric furniture.
8. Don’t let laundry pile up
Sure, you might fall behind on a few loads, given how much other cleaning you have to do. But fun fact: Pet allergens stick to your clothing. Once there, they can easily transfer to your furniture or guests.
9. Clean those places you normally don’t
You might vacuum your lampshades or dust under your couch only on a quarterly basis, but now’s the time if you’re preparing for guests with sensitivities to dust and dander. Put throw pillows into the dryer, dust the tops of doorways and picture frames, and don’t forget to wash and put away your pet’s food bowls.
10. Clean your air
An air purifier for pet hair is essential. Make sure yours has a HEPA filter, which can remove more impurities from the air. Place the purifier in the most-used room of your home and run it 48 hours nonstop before your guests arrive, advises Reichert. After their arrival, it should move into the room where your guests will sleep.
“This will give them a place to escape should their allergies get overwhelming,” says Reichert.
11. Come clean to your guests
Make sure your visitors know you have pets and the measures you’re taking to lower their exposure to allergens. Remind them to take their asthma and allergy meds before and during their visit.