holidays and family Preparing for House Guests with Pet Allergies October 1, 2013

I am totally wiped tonight and would kill for a glass of wine.   I’ve been on a cleaning rampage today, and now every muscle in my body is working against me.  Some days this stay-at-home-mom gig can be about as exhausting as roofing in July.
This is my cousin Amy:

She is 100% to blame for my aching back.  Amy just got back from spending the summer in New Zealand, and she’s flying in from Atlanta tomorrow.  Grant and I are really excited to go museum-ing around DC with her all week, but first I needed to eliminate as much pet dander from our house as possible.  Not that Amy would ever say anything, she would go into anaphylactic shock before she would admit that Izzy is making her sick, but I’ve seen her eyes swollen shut on previous visits.  This time, I’m prepared, and decontaminating the house before she arrives.

Step 1: Bath Time
Everybody knows someone with a poodle who swears their dog doesn’t give them allergies because he doesn’t shed.  Well, in all likelihood, their dog doesn’t give them allergies because they aren’t really allergic to dogs.  Pet hair isn’t to blame for pet allergies, it’s just a mode of transmission for spreading the allergen around (and dogs who don’t shed seasonally still lose hair every day, just like we do).  Proteins in the skin and saliva cause the sniffling and sneezing, so until someone creates a skinless Daschund, there’s no such thing as an allergy proof dog.  The American Academy for Athsma Allergy and Immunology recommends bathing pets weekly if allergies are an issue, because cleaning the skin removes dander.  It’s important to scrub thoroughly and get in all those places where they love to lick.

Step 2:  Clean, clean, clean.
I vacuumed every inch of our house twice this morning before we got ready for a thorough scrubbing.  I’m usually content with a Swiffer Wet-Jet, but pet dander removal requires more of a deep clean.  Nothing says domestic bliss like scrubbing the floors on your hands and knees.  It may sound extreme, and is certainly not my idea of a good time, but I had no idea how much dirt my mop left behind until I wiped the wet floor with a white rag.

Step 3: Laundry day
Our Tillary sofa from West Elm is basically two twin beds with weighted cushions on the back, so we can cover it with fitted sheets that we throw in the wash.  That comes in handy with a toddler whose favorite foods are blueberries and ravioli.  This morning I not only washed the sheets, but I also threw in all of our throw pillow covers and the pillows from the guest room.  Izzy spends a lot of time on the couch, so that’s probably the most allergenic place in the house.  Getting it as clean as possible will definitely cut down on exposure, so I vacuumed the sofa itself and wiped it down with resolve.

Step 4: Rug cleaning
The recommended rug shampoo schedule is every 6 months (seriously, who has time for that??), according to every resource I’ve ever seen.  Vacuuming won’t remove six months or more of pet dander, so before guests show up is a great time to rent a Rug Doctor.

Step 5: Filtration
I don’t want to spend $100 on an air filter if it isn’t necessary, so we’ll see how Amy does the first day before we , but a lot of allergists recommend HEPA Air Filters.  Hopefully between Claritin and a thorough cleaning she’ll be in good shape.

Well, I’m beat.  Getting through that list of chores with a toddler running around behind me creating a mess seven times as fast as I can clean is not my idea of a good time.  Luckily I have a husband with very strong hands who is about to give me the greatest foot rub of my life.  He just doesn’t know it yet.

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