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36 Smart Ways to Deal with Allergies in Your Home

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If you refer to this time of year as allergy season, this post is for you. Will applying the tips contained in this post eliminate all allergens from your home? Probably not, but the trick is to decrease them as much as possible, which these tips will do. And, yes, 36 are a lot of tips. Some are super easy that you can do immediately while others can be put on the "to-do" list as time and finances allow. Even if you can't address all of them, take heart, because simply decreasing allergens in your home can make a remarkable difference  in allergy symptoms.


My allergist explains the benefits decreasing allergens from the home like this: Imagine your body an empty glass. Now picture adding allergens to it in the form of water. Your glass can take a certain amount of water/allergens. Half full is fine. Even 3/4 is cool. But if you add too much water, your cup will run over and you'll start exhibiting allergy symptoms. Therefore, decreasing allergens you're exposed to will keep your cup from filling up and keep the congestion and sneezing at bay. Now let's get to work and start emptying our glasses.

 

  • Pare down the knick-knacks, as they are notorious dust collectors.
  • Take the paper recycling out weekly, for the same reason as above.
  • Store toys in plastic covered bins, ditto.
  • Dust or vacuum the books on your bookshelves regularly. 
  • Skip the feather duster. (It scatters dust.) Instead, opt for a damp cloth when dusting. (Click here for ways to improve your dusting technique.)
dusting girl
Photo: Find Cleaner
  • Consider furniture with smooth surfaces (like leather, vinyl, plastic, and wood) when it comes time to replace upholstered pieces as they do not harbor dust and are easy to wipe clean.
  • Switch to all washable bedding (nothing feathered!) and then wash all of it at least once a week at 130F (54C) or higher. 
  • Replace feather/down/unwashable pillows with machine washable ones. Wash them regularly at 130F (54C) or higher. (P.S. I've washed pillows unspecified as washable with great results, even down ones.)
  • Consider storing unused bedding is large plastic bags or, better yet, the large plastic zip bags bedding comes in. 
  • Speaking of laundry, make sure all of it is completely dry before storing. (Damp cloth = mold.)
  • Restrict stuffed animals that the kiddos sleep with to 1 or 2, and make sure they too are washable. Apply the same washing schedule to them as you do the pillows.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom or, at least, off the bed. If this tip hurts your heart like it does mine, giving Fido a weekly bath will help. (For more information about why your pet makes you sneeze--and ways to help mitigate the problem--click here.)
guy washing darling dog
Photo: WebMD
  • Consider low nap carpet or, better yet wood or tile, when it comes time to replace wall-to-wall carpeting. 
  • Vacuum all existing wall-to-wall carpeting at least once a week with a vacuum with a true HEPA filter.
  • Steam-clean existing wall-to-wall carpeting regularly, or shampoo with an allergen-reducing cleaner.
  • Wash all throw rugs regularly.
  • Consider getting rid of heavy drapes and switch to machine washable cotton or synthetic fabrics. Or replace them with shades, which trap less dust. 
  • Check for leaks around tubs and showers and around and under all sinks. Address any problems you find.
  • Check your home's foundation for any leaks and address the problem.
  • Check around sinks, tubs, and showers for mold--if any is found, it's time to recaulk. (To learn how to caulk a tub and to do it neatly, click here.)
guy caulking a tub
Photo: Popular Mechanics
  • Use your kitchen and bath vents regularly. If you don't have any, consider installing them. If you DO have them, vacuum them or take them down and clean them regularly. 
  • Take down and clean your light fixtures regularly. And don't forget to dust the bulbs too. 
  • Consider converting conventional fireplaces to natural gas. (Smoke can aggravate allergy symptoms.)
  • Store junk in the basement in plastic covered bins.
  • Cockroaches can trigger allergies and asthma. To help keep them under control, wash the dishes in the sink daily, wash kitchen countertops and sink with a 5% bleach solution, and get rid of garbage daily or put it in a can with an insect-proof lid. (Check out this post for additional tips on how to avoid a cockroach infestation.)
guy checking under sink for cockroaches
Photo: Angie's List
  • Check the rubber seals on your refrigerator. Replace them if they are moldy.
  • Consider adding a dehumidifier to your home. (Try to keep your home's humidity under 50%.)
  • Keep your home's temperature between 68F (20C) and 72F (22C) as hot humid homes breed dust mites, molds, and fungus. Cockroaches too like hot and humid temperatures.
  • Consider removing potted plants from your home OR remove them from the bedrooms OR top their soil with aquarium gravel to contain the mold. (I LOVE plants, so the aquarium gravel trick is my choice.)
  • Change the filters on your heating and cooling system.
  • Consider investing in a home or room air cleaner. (We have this Honeywell model in our bedroom that works quite well. The low setting isn't too loud for sleeping, whereas the high setting sounds like a twin engine taking off. The up side is that on high it clears the air in what seems like seconds.)
  • Vent your dryer outside.
  • Keep the windows closed during pollen season.
  • Establish a "remove shoes" policy for all who enter your home. They bring in untold amounts of allergens.
  • Shower or bathe before bed to wash pollutants out of your hair and etc.
  • Don't allow smoking anywhere in your home. 
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