If you suffer from allergies, then nowhere is safe — not even your own home.
Fortunately, while there’s no way to avoid allergens altogether (especially if you have pets or kids), there are several steps you can take to improve air quality and reduce flare-ups around the house.
Here’s where to start:
Use the right filters — and change them regularly.
Make sure you’re using the proper filters for your air conditioning unit (you might even consider allergy-specific ones), and commit to changing them out regularly. The exact timing depends on your unit, but most experts recommend changing your filters at least once every month or two.
You should also wipe down the intake grates weekly to ensure no allergens are getting into (and circulated through) your system. This is especially important if you have pets in the home.
Keep your doors and windows closed.
It might feel nice to let that afternoon breeze in, but even just a few hours with an open door or window can let serious allergens and pollen in. It can also cause humidity inside your home, which can lead to mold, mildew, and even more allergy issues down the line.
Vacuum weekly — especially if you have carpet.
Wall-to-wall carpet is a safe haven for dust mites and allergens, so if you have it — even in just one or two rooms in your house — then vacuuming often is critical. You should also make sure to clean both on and around the baseboards, too, particularly if you have pets. Dog and cat hair can easily lodge itself between the carpet and baseboards, building up over time.
Say goodbye to moisture.
Lingering moisture can cause mold and mildew (and, of course, even more allergy problems), so do anything you can to stave it off.
To do this, you should:
- Avoid vinyl shower curtains. These tend to attract mold more and need regular, deep-cleaning to keep sterile. Nylon curtains are a better choice for allergy sufferers.
- Crack the door and turn on the fan when showering or bathing. You also might want to keep the fan on for an hour or so after you’ve finished, just to be extra-sure the moisture is eradicated.
- Dry off your tub and shower after use. Keep a towel on hand for the tub, and give it a quick once-over after you’re done rinsing off. This will help keep mold from building up in the area.
- Invest in a dehumidifier (or two). If your bathroom gets a lot of use or you’re just in a humidity-prone area, a dehumidifier can help ward off that moist air.
You should also be quick to fix any leaks or drips and make sure to clean any signs of mold or mildew immediately. Mold spores grow quickly and need attention ASAP before they get out of hand.
Pay attention to your pet.
If you’ve got a furry friend in the house, then pay their coat close attention. Brush them regularly to prevent shedding, and if they go outdoors, make sure they’re not carrying in any dirt, pollen, or other allergens in on their fur — especially in the spring and summer. Bathe them often in these high-allergy times, and avoid letting them in your bed, on furniture, or even in the bedrooms at all.
Wash your furniture and bed coverings often.
Allergens can easily build up on pillowcases, blankets, rugs, and even upholstery. Make it a point to clean these materials every two to three weeks, using very hot water. If you have anything non-washable (mattresses, pillows without cases, etc.), then invest in a few allergen-proof covers — and wash these often, too.
Cut down on the house plants.
As pretty as they are, plants can harbor mold and increase moisture in your home. If you do have house plants, keep them to a minimum, and be sure to empty any pooling water in their pots or trays immediately. You should also be on the lookout for any moldy leaves, as these need to be removed ASAP before the mold can spread.
Upgrade your vacuum cleaner.
Vacuuming often is great, but vacuuming with the right type of vacuum? That’s even better. Allergy experts generally recommend bagless vacuums (emptying the bag can cause a storm of allergens), and ones with HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air) are typically best. These filters trap even the smallest particles of allergens, so they don’t escape back into the air.
According to Prevention.com, the best HEPA vacuums for allergy-sufferers are currently the Shark Rotator Professional and the Hoover T-series WindTunnel Rewind Plus.