Allergy season is nothing to sneeze at! More Americans than ever before suffer from seasonal allergies or find that their allergy symptoms worsen each year. With the season of sneezing increasing in intensity and length, finding allergy relief has become a top priority.
While there’s not much you can do about conditions outside, there’s a lot you can do inside your home to keep seasonal allergens at bay.
Follow this allergy prevention checklist to improve indoor air quality and make your home an allergy-free zone:
1. Open the Door to Allergy Relief by Locking 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.
What are Allergens or Pollen?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Pollen is an airborne allergen that can affect our health. Pollen grains are tiny “seeds” dispersed from flowering plants, trees, grass, and weeds. When allergens like pollen enter your body your immune system mistakenly identifies them as a threat. Pollen exposure can trigger various allergic reactions, including symptoms of hay fever.
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 prevention, take steps to prevent wet basements and keep moisture levels in check.
Also, avoid mold buildup in other damp places like kitchens, laundry rooms, and baths by cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces regularly and using 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, laminate, or engineered vinyl flooring.
When removing old carpet, cut down on dust by vacuuming it thoroughly before the installation crew arrives. For those areas where cushioning is needed, use washable area rugs. By doing so, you’ll banish 90 percent of dust mites from a space!
4. Clean the Air of Allergy-Inducing Contaminants
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 and helps with allergy relief. 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, which automatically monitor and remove excess indoor humidity.
Efficient whole-house 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.
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 allergy relief by selecting washable slipcovers and pillow shams, clean-lined décor, and a clutter-free design in each room.
6. Filter Away Allergy Threats
A vacuum system equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter will help keep your home super clean year-round. Central vacuum systems are highly recommended by allergists since the main air flow is typically exhausted outside the house, preventing the re-circulation of fine dust and allergens. Systems vented inside the home provide exceptionally high filtration, meeting all HEPA and ULPA specifications and can significantly improve indoor air quality.
7. Wipe Away Allergens from Surfaces
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 those surfaces 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 and deliver easy allergy relief.
Check cleaning products for toxic ingredients and switch to a nontoxic, non-aerosol replacements to improve indoor air quality.
8. Avoid Allergy-Collecting Clotheslines
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. If you’re ready for a new washer, invest in a high efficiency Energy Star rated washer. These not only use less water, but the high-speed spin cycles also remove far more water than traditional washers thereby allowing clothes to dry even more quickly.
Air out any dry-cleaned clothing before hanging it in your closet to reduce exposure to any residual chemicals.
9. Watch Out for Allergen-Producing Pets
We may love our pets, but not the allergens they bring into our homes! 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 in living areas and banish them from your bedroom to help keep it a dander-free allergy prevention zone.
10. Rest Easy with Allergy-Free Bedding
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, box springs, 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.
Allergy Relief Starts at Home
Along with the comforts your home offers you and your family, it can also be a safe harbor and breeding ground for allergens. But with a little extra care in everyday routines and planning home improvements, you can make a great difference in your abode’s year-round air quality.
For the best allergy relief, follow these tips and you will most certainly breath a lot easier through the entire allergy season!