The Covid Precaution to Steal for Your Cleaning Routine

updated Feb 5, 2021
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someone vacuuming rug
Credit: Joe Lingeman

The week my family started packing our house into boxes to move, I woke up every morning with red, itchy eyes and a sniffly nose. I usually don’t get winter allergies, and we hadn’t been around other humans recently, so I was confused about what was happening. When I desperately texted a friend about my possible December-allergy scenario, she didn’t seem surprised at all. “It’s all that dust you’re stirring up!” she told me. 

It made total sense: I had been opening drawers, digging through closets, and organizing basement corners I hadn’t touched in months, so I was probably irritated by the dust and other debris floating around my house. (It also probably didn’t help that the windows were closed, thanks to Minnesota winter.)

Had I known the havoc all that dust would wreak on my body, I would have adopted a simple solution: donning a fresh and clean face mask, at least while I was digging through the dusty basement. We all have face coverings around our homes now, so why not put them to use for chores?

Even if you’re not packing up the entire contents of your house in preparation for a move, you can still get extra use out of them. If you, like me, are sensitive to inhaling dust, it might be a good idea to slap one on before you do any dusting, or when you’re organizing spaces that may have collected dust (like a closet, basement, garage, or pantry).

A mask could also provide a buffer for people sensitive to chemical smells. It’s always a good idea to ensure proper ventilation when you’re cleaning with bleach-based products, but to be extra safe, you could also put on a mask when you’re disinfecting. Other strong-smelling products, like oven cleaner or ammonia, could also benefit from a mask barrier! 

On top of cleaning or organizing, a mask could come in handy when you’re DIY-ing or working on home projects — anything that involves paint, spray paint, turpentine, or wood stain. Basically, anything that smells or anything you want to protect yourself from!

Moral of the story: Keep your face masks on hand, even when you’re not going out — especially if common cleaning jobs result in sneezing or headaches.