7 Allergy Friendly Home Renovation Tips

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7 Allergy Friendly Home Renovation Tips

7 Allergy Friendly Home Renovation Tips

Hello, Nut Free Wok readers!! I have been missing cooking, blogging, and sharing with you the past few weeks. I’ve been quiet on the blog and social media because I’ve been busy on the home front. My husband and I decided that the interior of our home needed a fresh coat of paint after living in the house for 15 years. It was bittersweet to paint over the little hand prints about 2 feet off the ground but the chipped and peeling paint had to go.

Our last major home renovation project was about 6-7 years ago, when our kitchen was in bad shape and we had no choice but to renovate. It was a lot of work to design, plan, and manage the renovation with special consideration for our children’s allergies. I put off additional projects until now.

Thus painting the interior of the house triggered a chain reaction of other necessary projects and I spent a lot of time interviewing many people to help us, shopping and learning about different options, purging 15 years of clutter and packing what we want to keep. I’m still struggling to unpack partly because I want to purge some more and partly because some neck pain is slowing me down. That explains why I’ve been busy and I’ve been waiting for a chance to share with you some of my home renovation tips from an allergy mom’s perspective that helped me stay calm, cool, and collected.

1. Stay on top of decluttering, cleaning, and maintenance

No one’s perfect and there is bound to be some dishes, laundry, and dust bunnies waiting for us at times. However, it’s easy to let things pile up (for 15 years, ahem) and lose track of the quarterly and annual home maintenance tasks. I won’t share the icky details but there are a few things that I’ve discovered that will help me from here on out to cut down on the dust and allergens, prevent future issues, and monitor better:

1) After I cleaned my windows with glass cleaner and paper towels, it still wasn’t clean enough. I used cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean the nooks and crannies around the edges of window. The black dirt-like spots are gross and not dirt!

2) I love using Magic Sliders but sometimes the adhesive isn’t strong enough and our furniture slides off the sliders. I bought 3M Scotch Indoor Mounting Squares (affiliate link) to secure some other items and had extra pieces. I put the Magic Sliders (affiliate link) and mounting squares under our kitchen chairs and they’re staying on beautifully despite the constant use. When my husband or sons have time to help me, I plan to attach more sliders with mounting squares to the bottoms of dressers, bookcases, and sofas so that I can easily move the heavy pieces of furniture for cleaning behind and under them. Two of our bookcases need to be replaced because we weren’t able to move them for cleaning and inspection and we will have to replace our carpets as result.

3) How about an As Seen On TV product that can help prevent a dryer from catching on fire? I knew about the risk I did but none of our vacuum attachments were small enough to insert inside our dryer’s lint trap. I bought Telebrands Lint Lizard Flexible Vacuum Hose Boxed (affiliate link) at a local store. If it doesn’t work the store has a great return policy and if it does work, it’s a small price to pay (about $12). The vacuum attachment connected our vacuum to a long, flexible, clear plastic tube which I can insert inside the lint trap. I was amazed by how much lint was hidden inside my dryer, what a great gadget!

4) Thanks to my friend Heidi for sharing about Swiffer and Febreeze as AAFA certified allergy friendly products. I replaced my Swiffer and bought a duster with a long extender handle (affiliate link) for some easy dusting. I usually try to minimize the amount of disposable products that I use and dust with washable microfiber cloths instead. But for now, water too precious of resource for the extra washing necessary and I love how the Swiffer products traps dust and dirt.

2. Identify your allergy related needs and priorities

If you are thinking of doing any remodeling or home improvement projects, read Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s article Home Remodeling. Sometimes things break spontaneously and you might find yourself in an unexpected situation where you need to make decisions quickly. Having some background information will help guide you to make allergy friendly repairs. Allergic Living has many great articles related to allergy friendly home design and choices, such as Designer Homes Get Allergy Friendly Green and Gorgeous. Everyone has different tastes and different budgets, but I think that there are big and little allergy friendly changes that can make your home more comfortable and more allergy friendly. My top three priorities are 1) control the construction dust, 2) use no VOC or low VOC products, and 3) improve air circulation, moisture control, and energy efficiency whenever possible.

3. Find reliable contractors, vendors, and a house cleaner before you need them

Your neighbors are an invaluable resource for referrals to contractors and vendors. If available in your area, join Next Door (www.nextdoor.com) to broaden your access to referrals but take those recommendations with a grain of salt as you won’t know if their standards of “fair price” and “good work” match yours. Knowing of a reliable and honest plumber, electrician, handyman, etc. before you need one will save you time and the mental anguish of making decisions under pressure.

I was reluctant to hire a professional cleaner because I had some cleaners come once who weren’t very professional (one sprayed bleach on my towels, one used ammonia all over my house, another hosed my bathroom ceiling and left it dripping wet, etc.). I felt I could do a better job myself (I didn’t) but it wasn’t until I had to have surgery which required 1-2 months of no heavy lifting that I finally gave up control and found a great crew that gives my house a deep clean every month. And yes, I spend time putting things away before the cleaners come.

4. Interview and ask questions

Based on our project needs and priorities, I create a list of a handful of questions to interview contractors. I try to get a sense for whether they will respect your house rules (no smoking, no eating nuts or other allergens), will they follow building codes, are they honest, are they good communicators, are they good at their craft? I also ask for referrals and usually the contractors share the info of satisfied customers. One useful question I ask is “How well does the contractor resolve problems or issues that came up?”

5. Scout out local hotels

If it’s not an option to stay with family or friends during a construction project or you don’t have access to a kitchen or a bathroom, where do you stay? Do you ever wonder what is it like to stay at a hotel in your community? Scout them out before you need a place in a hurry. Would you need a suite with a kitchen or can you make do with a mini bar with a microwave? What are the price ranges of the hotels in your area? Do you need to stay at a pet friendly hotel? Do any of them offer extended stay rates?

6. Have a short list of safe allergy friendly restaurants

If your kitchen is out of commission for a few days, what would you do? Create a list of local restaurants that can meet your health and dietary needs as well as be acceptable for your budget. It might be costly to go to your favorite special occasion restaurant every day and it might not be healthy to eat fast food everyday. Allergy Eats and Yo Dish are fantastic resources for allergy friendly dining. I was so happy to discover that one of the hotel restaurants is operated by a local restaurant owner that we know and as a result, the restaurant staff treated us like family so that an allergy safe meal was just an elevator ride away.

7. Have a back up plan for meals

What can you make with non-perishable or shelf-stable items or foods stored in a cooler with ice? What can you make if you have access to a hotel mini-bar? What can you make with a hot pot? Both of my kids and my husband were sick through out the painting project and while our hotel room did not have a kitchen, I was able to use our hot pot (affiliate link) to make hot water with honey or miso soup to soothe sore throats. When we renovated our kitchen 7 years ago, we stayed with our parents for two weeks when our house was extremely dusty and messy. But we moved home before the kitchen was completed and we never quite knew if we would have access to water or electricity, so I had a back up plan ready. I think of it as a practice run for whether we could take care of ourselves after a natural disaster.

Gratitude

I’m grateful that we have a home to fix even if it’s not perfect, the ability to make necessary repairs, and the resources to stay in a safe and clean environment. It’s with gratitude that I had fun with my kids during the chaos, we enjoyed eating comfort foods together because they were sick and I didn’t feel great either. I went to bed early every night because I was exhausted from packing and cleaning for weeks and needed the extra rest. The painters did a great job and I love that our home looks bright, clean, and airy again. We’re in between projects but at least I can resume some normalcy for a few weeks and share some advice for my future self as well as you. What are your best tips for remodels and home renovation? Help me and help others by sharing in the comments, THANK YOU!

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About Sharon Wong 213 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.

36 Comments

  1. Great tips! I know it’s not in the list, but the section about gratitude is awesome. A little bit of that goes a long way! My girlfriend’s allergies get really bad sometimes. I think it’s just the dust in the air that causes it though. Mine are sensitive to dust in the air when I mow the lawn. Do you do anything to protect the air conditioning system from drywall dust?

    • Great tips! In the stucco repair business we are always dealing with dust and dirt. It helps to know these helpful tips when working in potentially irritating environments.

  2. Thank you, Chase, for taking a moment to leave a comment! Dust and environmental allergies are tough, maybe it’s a good idea for your girlfriend to work with her allergist to identify what are her triggers and the doc’s suggestions on how to avoid them. My kids are super allergic to dust mite dander so they have an easy to maintain hepa filter in their room (just vacuum the filter weekly and wash it monthly), dust mite covers on their beds, and I wash their bedding in hot water and dry on high heat. It’s a lot of work and once I slack off, I can know because they’re sniffly!

    We recently had a patio door replaced and I sealed up the furnace outlet on the floor right in front of the door with plastic. Then the fabulous contractor came along and he had a giant roll of self adhesive plastic carpet protection film that he laid down over the outlet and on my carpet. We will be doing more work soon and I think I will turn off the HVAC, seal off what I can, and hope for the best (but plan for some duct cleaning afterwards!). I

  3. These tips are great. I don’t have severe allergies but these are really helpful things to know in general. The dust that can be created by a renovation can be really difficult to deal with it. I like your tip on finding a reliable house cleaner. Finding a good one may be hard but it can help.

  4. This seems like something that we really need to do. My wife gets allergies a lot and maybe if we did some home renovations like these it’d help her. Your tip on decluttering is particularly helpful; maybe now that’ll motivate me to clean things up!

    • Yes, the pesky clutter can really sneak up on us. I’m throwing away and giving away stuff from nearly 20 years ago and certainly makes me think twice before buying anything or adding to the clutter again.

  5. My son is allergic to a lot of different things, and I’m planning to do some home renovations soon. I really don’t want the products I get to affect his allergies. This being said, I really appreciate you sharing some insight with me about how I can do some allergy friendly renovations. I’ll be sure to follow your insight and see how it all helps. I really can’t wait to get my home all done.

  6. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to read about home remodeling with allergies. My daughter and I have pretty bad allergies, and she has asthma as well. We’re going to be doing some home renovations, so I’ll definitely educate myself on how to go about that. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Staying at a hotel while your home undergoes renovations is a smart idea, especially when you suffer from allergies. All of that dirt and dust that gets kicked up could easily aggravate your allergies if you spend a lot of time around it. I would suggest not being in the house whenever you don’t need to be, especially while the work is being done!

  8. These are really great tips for going through a renovation. I agree with you Sarah, staying a hotel really isn’t a bad idea. Can be expensive but can keep you out of the way during a project of such magnitude. Thanks for sharing!

  9. My grandmother has very sensitive allergies so I think these tips will be very helpful. She hasn’t visited an allergist as far as I know but this advice on cutting down allergens in the home should come in handy. Thanks for the allergy info.

  10. I have bad allergies and was concerned about how they would come into play when I remodelled my house. I love the advice about finding a contractor, vendor, and house cleaner before hand. Hopefully, doing this will help me be able to get through the renovation. Thanks for the allergy friendly list for renovating!

  11. I like the tip of interviewing and asking questions when considering a contractor. That’s the best way to determine whether they do good work or not. It’s also good to understand everything, so there are no surprises!

  12. I couldn’t agree more with #4 Ask Questions and Interview. I think all too many people assume a contractor knows what we want them to do. Make sure to be overly clear about your plans, ask if they think it will work, do you feel comfortable, etc. Great list of suggestions to help get going on a reno.

  13. Awesome article. I really enjoy this post, your useful tips help me a lot, I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing, Sharon!

  14. I like your first tip “stay on top of decluttering, cleaning, and maintenance.” That seems like something that would really help someone dealing with allergies. My youngest has allergies so we have been hesitant to start any home improvement projects. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind, thanks for sharing!

  15. You pointed out that having a short list of allergy-friendly restaurants is a good idea when undergoing renovations. My husband and I are going to renovate our kitchen, so we won’t be able to use it for a while. I’ll definitely do some research and find places we can eat with my daughter that are safe for her allergies.

  16. home will be home even it is not perfect. Buying a new home is not for everyone because it will take a lot of money that’s why we prefer for renovation. But the best way to make your house livable is the regular cleaning and fixing minor repair needs of the house.

  17. Our home should be environmentally friendly, human-friendly, kids friendly and many other types. Most of the people are having different types of allergies and it basically arises due to dust and foods. We can control foods while taking better precautions, but we can’t put control over dust allergies. Therefore, we need allergy friendly home renovation tips from experts and other sources. We should deal with these issues at the right time to avoid problems.

  18. Hey Sharon, what a great post to read today.

    I’ve painted my flat a couple of weeks ago as well … and I totally relate to what you were saying about painting on top of marks of little hands and marker lines of all colours on my walls … I have a baby girl of almost 2 years old and she did all that … BUT … I have to tell you that after painting the flat it looked like I was living in a different place :))

    Great tips as well. One that I would add is to try to keep dust low by cutting wood, bricks or whatever you have outside the property. Dust is very dangerous to our health … I know this first hand. Being a construction pro I learn a lot about health and safety. In case you really really have to do this operations indoors … please use a adequate dust mask for the job!

    Excellent post Sharon, thanks for sharing!

  19. Great idea and tips! We are just finishing up on a kitchen/living area project that started in late February. One of my tips is to make sure you have a contractor who is clean and can quarantine off the house in the areas they are working on that will be dusty–they did this and were able to keep the living area relatively free of construction dust so we can live. Also, the biggest lesson learned is that we can really double-up on space. With food allergies, and with cost and just to keep our health in line, we didn’t want to eat out all that much or move somewhere else. We have a laundry room with a sink and I cleaned the whole thing out and made a mock kitchen in there–I bought a Breville Smart oven and a one burner induction cooktop –those along w/the gas grill, and basically we could make everything at home we needed to! It was a tight space, lots of hand-washing dishes and we we couldn’t wait to get out of it, but for the cost of those 2 appliances, we would have probably spent that over a week of eating out. Now we are rethinking that laundry room space and wondering how we can use that better going forward. Anyway….thank you and keep up the good blogging!

    • Yes! I loved reading your comment because the logistics of managing a home renovation project and food allergies at the same time is not easy but so doable with some planning. I happen to be a huge fan of Breville products and that smart oven sounds wonderful that you were able to put together a mini-kitchen area in your laundry room, way to go. We have a portable induction cooktop too but it makes a low pitch noise that I can’t hear but it bothers my son greatly. That’s something that people might want to be aware of and check with their family members. 😉

  20. Thanks for the great and thoughtful read Sharon. You pointed out some things I never would have thought of. The idea of having backup food and ways of preparing it was great. I didn’t make any plans apart from eating takeout every night! I think preparing my own food would be better overall and save money for my renovations 😉

  21. I love that you mentioned the part about interviewing and talking with the contractors before work. As I tiling contractor, having the client inform me of their allergies and concerns before I start the job greatly helps us both as I’ll be careful not to bring any of those allergens to their home. Thanks for the write-up and I truly hope your readers take head of this great advice!

  22. Having a plan for each step of your renovation allows you to renovate in a more cost effective manner, giving you the ability to budget accordingly before you start the project; an outline of the project will help during the renovations.

  23. It’s a great idea to find all the professionals you might need before you even start the renovation. My son has bad allergies and will need to be prepared. I’ll talk with my contractor to find out what to expect during the remodeling process.

  24. I like the idea of asking your contractor to not eat nuts while at your house. Hopefully, that would prevent them from accidentally triggering an allergic reaction if you have someone there who is sensitive to that. I’ll make sure to do that if I renovate my house.

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