There are many different ways to reduce the allergens in your home. You may have already heard of some of the more expensive suggestions like tearing out your carpeting and installing hardwood floors or getting rid of all your drapes and replacing them with sleek window treatments. However, not everyone has the means to go to such extremes. With that in mind, the following suggestions can really help relieve your allergies without draining your bank account.
- Take off your Shoes at the Door
- Keep Pets out of the Bedroom
- Keep Doors and Windows Closed when Pollen Counts are High
- Don’t Hang Clothes Outside to Dry
- Run a Dehumidifier
- Vacuum at least twice a week
- Cover Mattresses and Pillows with Dust Mite Covers
- Keep your Bathrooms Dry
- Install Anti-Allergy Filters in your Furnace and Air Conditioner
- Drink More Water
Take off your Shoes at the Door
This may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but you’d be surprised at how many people suffering from allergies overlook this simple preventative measure. Your shoes are probably the guiltiest item of clothing for picking up allergens from the outside. If you’re shoes stay on, you’re transferring all those allergens directly to your carpet and the air you breathe. Make your guests remove their shoes as well. Don’t be shy. While you’re at it, place a welcome mat both outside and inside your front door. This encourages people to wipe their feet out of habit. More wipey, less tracky. Place mats can also help when it comes to pets running in and out of the house.
Keep Pets out of the Bedroom
This one may be tough for some of you pet-lovers, but keeping Fluffy out of the room you sleep in will do wonders to keep your allergies under control. If you already allow your pets to sleep in your room or heaven-forbid, on the bed with you, it’s not too late to take care of the problem. It will be hard for both of you at first, but eventually everyone will adapt. Keep the bedroom door closed during the day and make sure you spend quality time with your pets before you retire for the evening. There may be a lot of door scratching and barking or meowing at first, so if you have to, put the pets in a kennel during the evening until they get used to the new sleeping arrangements.
Keep Doors and Windows Closed when Pollen Counts are High
This is another no-brainer. The goal is to keep allergens out of the house, so why would you keep doors or windows open, allowing all those allergens to walk right in? Hopefully you have air-conditioning that you can run on hot days.
Don’t Hang Clothes Outside to Dry
This is one of the worst things you can do, especially when pollen counts are high. You might save a little money by not running your drier, but the price you pay for all those allergens coming into the house stuck to your clothes, is much worse. Wet or damp clothes hanging on a line are like magnets to allergens.
Run a Dehumidifier
Humidity is a killer for people with allergies. If the relative humidity in your house is 60% or more, try to run a dehumidifier in every room in which you spend any amount of time. Dehumidifiers are not that expensive, and a small one can handle a fairly large living area. If you can’t have one in every room, at least run one in the bedroom at night while you’re sleeping. You’ll thank yourself later.
Vacuum at least twice a week
Vacuum more often if you have shedding pets or live in a dusty area. The dust mites and pet dander that can accumulate in your carpeting is mind boggling. Make sure you’re using the right kind of vacuum, and I don’t mean one that has a HEPA filter. Pretty much every vacuum on the market today has a HEPA filter, but if the vacuum is not designed properly, the filter will do you absolutely no good. Don’t get me wrong, you need the HEPA filter, but most vacuums release the particles they’ve sucked up into the air before they even reach the filter. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your vacuum either. The Shark Navigator Lift-Away, for example, is very affordable and uses a complete seal design that prevents all those allergens from releasing back into the air. Another benefit of the Shark is that it’s designed to handle pet hair much better than many of the other vacuum brands. We love the Shark at our house and I’m even able to vacuum without triggering my allergies. I could never do that with any of the other vacuums we’ve owned.
Cover Mattresses and Pillows with Dust Mite Covers
If you haven’t tried a dust mite cover before, prepare to be amazed. These are relatively inexpensive covers that typically zip around your mattress and pillows. They work by keeping the dust mites and their allergens inside the mattress and pillows and away from you. The material used in these covers is membrane free, meaning that the pore size or spaces between the fibers is smaller than the allergens. There are quite a few brands and grades of covers on the market. You’ll usually pay more for comfort (obviously) and smaller pore sizes. The important thing to remember when purchasing one of these covers is that the allergens from dust mites are typically in the 8 to 10 micron range. Anything smaller than that will do just fine at keeping the allergens inside the covers.
Keep your Bathrooms Dry
Mold and mildew can cause havoc on people with allergies. The best place in your home for mold to take hold is in your bathrooms and under your cabinet-ed sinks. Keeping these areas dry and mold-free is very important. When you’re finished showering or bathing, wipe down all surfaces. Keep your bathrooms well ventilated and, if possible, bathe with the door opened. Regularly scrub down your bathrooms and under sinks with mold and mildew removers. Also, you should re-caulk sinks, tubs, and tiles every couple years (or as needed) to discourage mold growth behind walls. Check under your sinks often to make sure there are no leaks or spills.
Install Anti-Allergy Filters in your Furnace and Air Conditioner
There are lots of brands to choose from but the most popular is probably Filtrete filters made by 3M. I don’t have a furnace in my current house since we use ceiling radiant heat panels (much cheaper and more efficient), but we’ve always used 3M filters in our older houses and have been very satisfied. When purchasing a furnace filter from 3M, make sure you pay attention to the MPR rating or Micro-particle Performance Rating. The MPR system was developed by 3M to demonstrate a filter’s ability to capture the smallest airborne particles from 0.3 to 1 micron. Other products use the MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which measures a filter’s ability to capture large particles. We still use the Filtrete filters for our window air conditioners and are still very pleased with the performance.
Drink More Water
Yeah, I know, this isn’t just for the home, but it’s a very important tip that everyone should follow. Everyone knows that water is good for you and you should drink lots of it. You’ve probably heard how drinking more water increases energy, relieves fatigue, flushes out toxins, maintains regularity, and the list goes on and on. When it comes to addressing allergies, there are two main reasons for drinking more water. The first is very simple, in that water helps to thin out your nasal membranes, thereby lessening irritation. The second reason is more complex because it works directly with your immune system. Research has proven that even mild dehydration activates histamine production, which as well all know, is strongly implicated in allergies. When you have a healthy, adequate hydration level, it decreases the need for and production of histamine.