Which is the best vacuum with allergies?
My wife and I live with two kids and Sammy, our Labrador retriever, in a two-story house in a suburb, and we try to live somewhat healthy. About 2 ½ years ago, our daughter was diagnosed with dust and pet hair allergies; not too severe, but enough to make life uncomfortable. So we started checking out websites, Googling, and checking forums.
We realized that we had to get rid of pet hair, dust, and allergens, avoid skin contact, and prevent her from breathing all that stuff in, most of all when she’s sleeping. Sammy is a family member, so we had to find a solution which allowed him to stay in our home, but not in her bedroom anymore, which wasn’t easy for either of them in the beginning.
We got started with a quality pet vacuum cleaner (vacuums especially designed for pet owners) with all the necessary attachments, HEPA filtration, and a Honeywell air purifier for her bedroom. I get asked this a lot, so we were using the new Miele Cat & Dog, and friends of ours swear that the Dyson DC65 Animal is the best you can get today (product links below the post). Both vacuums are awesome products, but come with a massive downside: human interaction is necessary 😉 and if you want to clean strictly for your allergy sufferer, cleaning is recommended three times a week with an allergy sufferer in the house.
We started a routine: The kids would vacuum Mondays, my wife vacuumed on Wednesdays, and Fridays, vacuuming would be my pleasure. That worked well. Our daughter’s allergies got better, she slept lighter, she got rid of most of the coughing, her eyes weren’t red in the morning anymore, and her overall wellbeing increased a lot. It was a pretty nice side effect! The house looked great, so overall, that was an effective solution.
When our spare time decreased; I got on a new project and my wife had to work late too. First we skipped one cleaning cycle, then another … and pretty soon we were back to where we started, which was very bad for our daughter, and therefore unacceptable.
Paying for housekeeping two or three times a week was out of the question, so I went back online and found a solution. The answer was a robot vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately the forum post doesn’t exist anymore, and I didn’t think to thank the blogger. Anyway, the blogger wasn’t so much worried about allergies, she was a neat freak and described the effect of always returning to a clean home, having friends comment on the cleanliness of the house, and so on.
I had heard of those benefits before, but it took until then for me to realize that one of those could be the answer to our question too. Scheduling one of them to run several times per week would even do more than we did in the beginning, without us even lifting a finger. So that’s how we started out, and about two years later, this website is the result.
This is what our life looks like with two robot vacuums, one on each level.
- We run them from Monday to Friday, when no one is around, which lets my family and me live in a constantly clean, allergen-free environment, which certainly feels awesome. You should know that before you can really remove all of the dust from your floors, you have to give it time to settle. Most experts agree that this takes about two hours. Thus, a robotic vacuum cleaner gives the dust and allergens time to settle; you will not swirl it all up yourself while you are vacuuming.
- We aren’t at home when the robot cleans, so none of us can breathe in whatever is spilled into the air by the movement of the cleaner.
- Our robot uses HEPA filters as it sucks up dust and allergens and traps it in its filters, so it doesn’t even get into the air. All of the particulates that trigger allergies and asthma get trapped in the filter, and all we have to do is wash it from time to time. (Wear a mask if you have sensitivities.)
- We still vacuum manually though, but four times a month seems to work pretty well for all of us. It’s still worth arguing whose turn it is!
A few more words about filters.
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. This is a mechanical air filter, which forces the air through fine mesh to trap particles like pollen, dander, dust mites, and more. They simply allow the vacuum to catch finer particles in the exhaust system, reducing the amount of dust and dirt thrown back out into the air, helping (in our experience, at least) to improve allergies and asthma.
Aside from the HEPA filters found in air purifiers, in our understanding, they are even more efficient in vacuum cleaners since the vacuums prevent the debris from getting into the air in the first place. Particles and allergens are everywhere – from rugs and bedding to upholstery and even drapes.
Without proper filters, the vacuum stirs them around but never catches them. That is never pleasant, whether or not you have allergies or pets. Because we have no way to test filters and tell the differences between them, we always choose HEPA filters. Because they are industry regulated, they must meet certain standards for quality. What’s more, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, or AAFA, recommends them, along with WebMD.
What We Have Learned About Pet Allergies
Pet allergies are a common problem in American households. There are about 100 million pets in the United States – that is about four pets for every ten people – which means people with pet allergies are at high risk for suffering pet allergy symptoms.
About 50 million people in the U.S. have some kind of allergy, making allergies the fifth most common disease among American adults. People with outdoor allergies are more likely to be allergic to animals; 15 to 30 percent of people with allergies suffer an allergic reaction upon exposure to cats or dogs or their dander. About 10 million Americans are allergic to cat dander, which is the most common type of pet allergy.
Symptoms of pet allergies occur when allergens, carried by dander and fun, land on membranes lining the eyes and nose to cause swelling and itching of these membranes. Allergens will also cause a stuffy nose and puffy, red eyes. Symptoms may not appear until after several days of contact with pet fur.
Quality Vacuum Cleaners Ease Symptoms of Pet Allergies
In our experience, quality vacuum cleaners are essential to people with pet allergies because once airborne, some pet fur particles are small enough to get into the lungs. When you inhale, the allergens combine with antibodies to cause breathing problems, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath within 15 to 30 minutes in especially sensitive people.
Someone who is highly sensitive to pet fur may develop an intense rash on his face, neck, and upper chest at even the slightest exposure to pet fur left behind by a conventional vacuum cleaner.
Quality vacuum cleaners are also essential for people with asthma. Contact with cat fur can trigger a severe asthma attack in 20 to 30 percent of people with asthma. In fact, allergies to cat fur can also lead to chronic asthma. Removing excess cat fur from carpets can help reduce the onset of pet allergy symptoms and their complications.
In addition to being a sticky allergy hazard, pet dander is also lightweight and easily stirred by nearly any motion. You and your pet can kick pet fur and dander into the air by simply walking through a room or vacuuming manually.
Grooming and petting can also unleash pet fur and dander into the air. Once airborne, pet fur can remain suspended in the air and travel great distances before dander and other allergens settle into your carpet or on your furniture. This means you need a vacuum capable of picking up pet fur even in rooms where Fluffy and Fido never go.
If you or one of your family members suffers from allergies, the combination of a quality pet vacuum cleaner, a robot vacuum, and an air purifier works very well. We use and recommend the following products, which are all available on Amazon:
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