Is Your Vacuum Cleaner Making Allergies Worse?

It's the dirty little secret of vacuuming. You may think you're getting rid of the dust, dirt, and pet dander that trigger your allergies, but sometimes you may be stirring them up instead.

One study found that some vacuum cleaners throw fine dust and germs back into the air, where they can set off 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 sucking up 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 HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

Others say the best ones are central units, where the motor and filter are outside your house. One drawback is the price. They're more expensive because of 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 allergy triggers.
  • Use a microfiber or electrostatic cloth for dusting. They don't stir up dust or other things that set off your allergies.
  • Replace carpeting, if you can, with tile or hardwood floors.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on July 17, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

David Corry, MD, professor and chief, section of immunology, allergy, and rheumatology, department of medicine, Baylor College of Medicine.

Knibbs, L. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012.

Viviana Temino, MD, assistant professor of allergy and immunology, University of Miami School of Medicine.

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