This year's allergy season? Nothing to sneeze at. The long, cold winter kept trees dormant for longer than usual, which means tree pollen season will overlap with grass pollen and mold seasons. For those with multiple environmental allergies, that likely means extra misery.
While there's not much you can do about conditions outside, there's a lot you can do inside your home to get allergy relief by keeping seasonal allergens at bay. Here's a checklist for making your home an allergy-free zone this spring.
1. Lock Out Pollen: Keep allergy producing pollens outside by instituting a shoes-off policy to avoid tracking pollen into living spaces. If you spend the day outdoors, change clothes as soon as you get home, and bathe before bedtime to wash away the pollen and outdoor mold spores that can cling to your hair and skin.
2. Banish Mold and Mildew: Mold can cause major allergy problems. Mold growth usually starts in the basement or crawlspace and is caused by excessive moisture that makes its way up through the foundation and spreads all over the house. For allergy relief, take steps to prevent wet basements and keep moisture levels in check.
Also, avoid mold buildup in other damp places like kitchens and baths by cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces regularly and using bath exhaust fans to remove the water vapor that can settle and create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Launder kitchen and bath linens frequently, and be attentive to plumbing leaks that can lead to hidden mold issues.
3. Cut Out Carpet: For allergy sufferers, carpet is just about the worst choice for floor covering. Carpeting tends to trap and hold allergens of all kinds, and is especially welcoming to dust mites. Wherever possible, replace carpet with wood, tile or linoleum flooring and use washable throw rugs for a bit of carpet-style cushioning. By doing so, you'll banish 90 percent of dust mites from a space!
4. Clean the Air: Those soothing springtime breezes also carry allergens, so if you are lucky enough to have central air-conditioning, use it! Keeping windows closed and attic fans off minimizes the amount of pollen that can float into your house. You can also prevent the development of other indoor allergens like mold by keeping home humidity at about 40 percent with the help of whole home dehumidifiers and inexpensive at-home humidity monitors.
5. Choose Dust-free Décor: Just like carpet, the presence of upholstered furnishings, fabric-heavy window treatments and ornate, dust-grabbing accents can all contribute to your allergy misery. Get relief by selecting washable slip covers and pillow shams, clean-lined décor and a clutter-free design.
6. Filter Away Allergy Threats: A vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter will help keep your home super clean year-round, as will sticking to a good routine of cleaning and replacing furnace filters. Efficient whole-home air cleaners can also be extremely effective in delivering allergy relief -- some can filter out even virus sized particles. You can further supplement your clean-air efforts with portable air filtration devices. Available in such varieties as mechanical, electronic and hybrid, the best and most effective single-room air filters will carry both the UL seal and FDA Class II medical device approval.
7. Surface Treatments: Many allergens are airborne, but far more are resting on surfaces within your home. As an allergy sufferer, you may be reluctant to stir up dust and other particles by cleaning, but the longer you wait the higher the risk that what lies on thoses surface will go airborne and make you miserable. Frequent light cleanings are the best way to stay on top of what falls on your hard surfaces.
8. Laundry List: If you are a green-minded, energy-saving type who loves to skip a clothes dryer in lieu of an all natural clothesline approach to drying laundry, keep in mind that doing so means that pollen will easily embed itself in your freshly cleaned clothes. Find a space for an inside clothesline and wash clothing and bedding in hot water to kill dust mites and clear away other allergens.
9. Pet Peeves: Pet dander can also aggravate allergies in a big way, so be sure to bathe pets weekly and keep their bedding clean. Minimize their contact with soft furnishings and banish them from your bedroom to help keep it a dander-free zone.
10. Sleep Easy: For sounder sleep with fewer interruptions from sneezing and sniffling, choose a non-allergenic mattress and bedding, and use dust-mite-proof casings for mattresses, comforters and pillows. Also remember to wash bedding weekly, and carefully store clothing quickly instead of leaving it out where it's exposed to airborne dust and allergens.
For the best allergy relief, follow these tips and you will most certainly breath a lot easier through the entire allergy season!