Top 10 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home
Dust. Pollen. Dander. Mold. These are some of the many allergens that live in your home. That's right — "in" your home — and they can trigger reactions like sneezing, wheezing, or a scratchy throat. With indoor pollutants often being two to five times higher than outdoor concentrations, it's essential for your health to maintain a clean, allergy-proof home.
Surprisingly though, it's not that difficult. Here are ten of the top ways to remove irritants and allergy-proof your home.
Replace air filters often
According to The Home Depot, your HVAC air filters should be changed — at a minimum — every three to six months. That's because a dirty air filter can restrict your home's airflow (and quality), making it more difficult for your air conditioner or heating system to work. On the other hand, a clean filter can trap and hold many types of particulates and contaminants that could affect your health and comfort.
The cost of an air filter ranges from $15-$70, depending on your HVAC system. So, it's a pretty reasonable investment twice a year. Keep in mind, if you live in a large home, have pets, or experience allergies, you may want to change your filter every three months. If none of those variables apply, you can usually wait six months before replacing them.
Cut back the humidity
Too little moisture can make it easy for dander to fly around. Too much humidity can create a mold or mildew problem. Find common ground by using a dehumidifier so that you can get your moisture below 60% — between 35% and 50% is even better. You can purchase dehumidifiers for as little as $200, and you can buy an inexpensive meter to take humidity measurements.
You can also invest in plants that absorb humidity, like peace lilies, Boston ferns, English ivy, or tillandsia. These specific plants can absorb dew, fog, or other forms of vaporous moisture through the stoma in the leaves. Plus, many of them make for attractive decor.
Remove allergens from furniture
On average, two million dust mites live in your mattress and thrive on your warm body every night. Dust mites feed off our dead skin cells, and the fecal matter is covered in a protein that triggers allergy symptoms.
To avoid allergens as much as possible, consider allergen reducer sprays, mattress protectors, and even cleaning your mattress with baking soda. To successfully remove dust mites from your bedding, be sure to wash all sheets and pillows in a "hot" setting.
Of course, it's important to keep in mind, your mattress is not the only piece of furniture affected; your couch may be, too! Design and follow an ongoing couch cleaning routine, too. We recommend steaming or washing cushions once or twice a month.
Get rid of mold
Bathrooms and basements can be damp areas, which means they are susceptible to mold and mildew build-up. Some of the most common molds that cause allergies include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and penicillium. While mold allergy symptoms vary from person to person, they can include sneezing, post-nasal drip, dry skin, itchy eyes, and even asthma.
The best way to allergy-proof your home and get rid of mold is to — again — keep moisture levels down. If you have mold or mildew stains, consider scrubbing with a cleaning solution, such as bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar. Just be sure to keep these products separate and never combine ammonia with bleach.
While cleaning, you'll want to take inventory of your drywall and floor conditions. If you notice any crumbling or see mold that's fuzzy or slimy, it may be time to call in a professional for assistance.
Cleaning for allergies
Take this tip literally, and clean each room from "top to bottom." That's right, start with the highest points first, working your way down to the floor. Think your high-level shelves, ceiling fans, anything above you. This way, you can capture any dust that escapes your duster and settles into the carpet or hardwood.
Of course, vacuuming should always be your last chore and your most frequent chore. If you can do it daily, your allergies will thank you. If not, try your best to vacuum at least a couple of times a week.
Prevent pet dander
Your four-legged friends may be exposing you to allergens more often than you realize. And no, we're not talking about their fur. That's because the dust and dander particles on animals don't just live on fur, nor do they shed in one area. They can become airborne and travel throughout your home, eventually finding their way into your eyes or lungs.
Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may need to stay away from specific animals altogether. But if your symptoms are minimal, you could easily prevent excessive pet dander by vacuuming once or twice a week and washing your pet frequently.
Choose hardwood over carpet
Pet dander and dust mites can be easily trapped in the carpet and re-released when someone walks through the room. Unfortunately, vacuuming can only do so much. When possible, choose hardwood flooring. It's much easier to clean for allergies.
Remember the blinds and curtains
When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your blinds and curtains? If you can't remember, chances are there are all sorts of allergens and debris. Spend some time dusting, wiping, and washing these items of stuff that's maybe been accumulating for years.
Give the kitchen a deep clean
Your kitchen can be a breeding ground for allergens from moisture to dust. That's why experts recommend cleaning the refrigerator, stove, microwave, countertops, and cabinets. It's also worth scrubbing the faucets and sink.
Remove and properly store clutter
It's often the household items we forget that become the dirtiest. We're talking about toys, stuffed animals, blankets, and collectibles. Do yourself and your family a favor by placing all such unused items in plastic bins.
As you can see, the good news is that it doesn't take a lot of effort to make your home a better place to breathe. Check out our complete home maintenance checklist for additional ways to maintain a clean, allergy-proof home.