When you declutter or pack for a move, you’ll stir up a lot of dust.

That’s why you need to take precautions to avoid inhaling thousands of dust mites, microscopic spider-like creatures that feed off dead skin cells and can make your life miserable.

A dust mite allergy is nothing to sneeze at. After Amy Manley moved to a new apartment a few years ago, her eyes became constantly red and swollen, and her nasal passages were frequently congested. To alleviate her symptoms, Manley even bought fake glasses to wear to bed to prevent pressure from wind created by her ceiling fan from hurting her eyes.

“I felt sick all the time,” says Manley.

After a year of suffering, an allergist diagnosed Manley with a dust mite allergy when a skin prick test caused places on her back to swell to the size of ping pong balls. After moving from that dusty apartment, Manley’s symptoms disappeared. Just to be on the safe side, though, she’s gotten rid of upholstered furniture and carpeting and now wears an allergen mask when she cleans and dusts.

Worried about sneezing for days when you pack or declutter? Here are 5 tips to cut down your chances of allergic reactions to dust while rearranging your life and home.

1. Suit Up For the Task.

Wear nitrile gloves and a 3M surgical mask with a particulate filter when decluttering or packing, says Rachel Seavey, owner of Collector Care, which specializes in residential organizing, hoarding and extreme clutter. A mattress may contain between 100,000 and 10 million dust mites inside, so if you’re moving it, you’ll definitely want to strap on that mask. For particularly dusty jobs, wear safety glasses to keep dust out of your eyes.

2. Be Ready For the Worst Dust Culprits.

Dust settles behind couches and appliances, under the bed and on books and book shelves. Diving into decluttering a basement or attic is a dust festival. Seavey says old dust can be the consistency of sand. Dogs and cats are big feeders of dust mites.

“If someone has pets, you can almost scoop the dust up in your hand,” she says.

3. Vacuum With a HEPA Filter.

Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.

“It helps trap flying dust,” says Seavey. “It’s like a thick cloud is removed.”

When her crew begins a big decluttering job for a hoarder client, dust hangs in the air, often causing their eyes to tear. After the cleanup, there’s a noticeable difference.

If you need to handle upholstered furniture, try the Anti-Dust Mites UV Vacuum by Housemile.

4. Empty the Vacuum Outside.

The more stuff you move around, the more dust you’ll suck up from neglected spots. Don’t fill up your bagless vacuum with dust and dirt and then disperse it all back into the air by dumping all that grossness in the trash. Empty the canister outdoors so that old dust stays out of your home.

5. Avoid Feather Dusters.

Don’t swipe dust off knickknacks, books and furniture and into the air with a feather duster.

“I use a Swiffer duster, something that grabs dust and holds onto it,” says Seavey.

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