Improve Indoor Air Quality by Reducing Allergens in Your Home

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When you have allergies or asthma, it’s not always possible to control all of your triggers but there are several things you can do in your home to reduce allergens and minimize your symptoms.

Control your exposure to dust mites. Encase mattresses, pillows, and box springs in zippered allergen covers. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “Encasing mattresses works better than air cleaners to reduce allergy symptoms.” Bedding and stuffed toys should be washed in hot water weekly to kill the dust mites.

Vacuum twice a week. It’s important to wear a dust mask while cleaning and to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter if possible. When dusting, lightly dampen your cloth to help prevent dust particles from flying around. If you can, leave your home for a couple hours after cleaning to allow the dust particles you’ve stirred up to settle back down.

Most allergy specialists would say that you shouldn’t keep pets in the home but if you choose to anyway, here are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to pet dander. Try to keep your bedroom doors closed and keep the animals out of those rooms. You breathe deeper when you sleep, making you especially vulnerable to breathing in the dander. Cover vents with cheesecloth to keep dander from traveling through the ventilation system in your home.  Take animals to the groomers regularly (if you must groom them yourself, be sure to wear a dust mask) and be aware that certain breeds (German Shepherds for example) are more prone to shedding fur than others. Leather or vinyl furniture or something similar is best as cloth types are more likely to hold dander in them. These types of furniture are easily cleaned by wiping down as well. Replace carpeting with flooring – again the carpeting will hold more dander.

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Use your air conditioner in warm weather to help prevent pollen spores from entering your home. Dust mites love humidity so humidity-reducing nature of a/c also helps to reduce the dust mite population.

You may also want to invest in a dehumidifier. This will help prevent mold in the home as well as reducing dust mites – the mold spores can be quite a strong trigger for allergies and asthma. Anywhere in the home that you can reduce moisture will help! Fix all leaks promptly, make sure you have functioning exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom, limit the number of house plants you have. Recaulk sinks and tubs every few years to prevent moisture from beginning to collect.

 Take care of any pests immediately. Mice, rats, and cockroaches can leave behind droppings which will exacerbate your symptoms.

Put down two door mats at each door – one on the inside and one outside to help limit the allergens entering the home. Insist that visitors remove their shoes upon entering so they don’t track pollen and other irritants through the home.

Remember to change the air filters in your home’s heating and cooling system on a regular basis. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans should vent to the outside, not up into the attic. If you have a central vac system, it should vent outside as well.

Blinds or shades are a better choice than draperies when it comes to reducing allergens. If you must have curtains, make sure they are machine washable so they can be cleaned often. Use a vacuum to remove dust from curtains and blinds or shades on a weekly basis.

Limit the dust collectors in your home – stuffed animals, knick knacks, books, wall hangings. Wash stuffed toys in hot water weekly and use bleach where possible to kill mold. Unwashable stuffed toys can be put in the freezer once a week for 24 hours to kill mites and then rinsed in cold water to remove the dead mites.

What’s your best tip for reducing allergens in your home?

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