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Is Your Vacuum Cleaner Making Allergies Worse?

You vacuum to clean your house and get rid of dust, dirt, and pet dander that trigger your allergies. Sometimes, though, vacuuming might make your allergies worse.

Every time you walk across rugs or carpet, you stir up those allergens and send them into the air. When you vacuum, you could be doing the same thing.

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One study found that some vacuum cleaners throw fine dust and germs back into the air, where they can trigger allergies and spread infections.

But don’t stop vacuuming forever! Most good vacuums suck up more dust, dirt, and allergens than they spit out.

The vacuums that seem to cause the most problems are older, cheaper models. Newer ones that cost more generally do a better job of containing allergens. If your vacuum cleaner is aging and dirty, it’s time for a new one.  

Some experts say you should get a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency HEPA filter. Others say the best vacuums are central units. With these, the motor and filter are outside your house, so dust and dirt are filtered away. One drawback is the cost -- central vacuums are more expensive because you have the installation cost.

Other ways to keep the air clean in your home:

  • Wash throw rugs every week in hot water to kill dust mites and other allergens.
  • Use a microfiber or electrostatic cloth for dusting. They don't stir up dust or allergens.
  • Replace carpeting, if you can, with tile or hardwood floors.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 22, 2012

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