How to Allergy-Proof Your Indoor Environment
Many people correlate spring with allergy season. But why do you sneeze throughout the year? When pollen counts are down and nothing is growing, you may still have irritating allergy symptoms.
There are hundreds of types of allergens, and many of them exist inside your home. Therefore, staying indoors whether or not allergy season is looming might make you suffer more. You can control indoor allergens by taking the following steps.
Keep Your Windows Closed
Even though fresh air feels great as the weather starts to warm up, you don’t want to open the windows if you’re sensitive to pollen. The tiny particles that make your eyes and nose itch can enter your home quickly if you allow the outside air in.
Once pollen is inside, it can get stirred up every time you turn on a fan. Run the air conditioner with the windows closed if seasonal allergies are an issue for you.
Whether you’re allergic to pet hair, dust or pollen, vacuuming frequently can relieve your symptoms and prevent them from flaring up. Allergen particles can build up on floors. This is especially true if you have carpets.
Experts recommend using vacuums with HEPA filters for the most effective allergy relief. HEPA filters trap small particles that other vacuums may stir up. Some vacuums have sealed systems, which prevent allergens from being released back into the air.
While bagless vacuums are popular, they can be tricky to empty. Never empty your vacuum indoors. Better yet, have someone else take it outside and empty it for you.
The more you vacuum, the more allergens you’re likely to remove from your environment. Most experts recommend doing so once or twice a week. Don’t forget to get into corners and behind furniture.
If you have throw rugs that can’t be vacuumed properly, try washing them. Consider getting rid of them if that’s not possible.
Learn How to Dust Properly
You’ll need to dust frequently if you have indoor allergies. Some people aren’t bothered by dust. If you are, though, you may feel sick much of the time.
The way that you clean your home makes a difference. You should wear a filter mask while you clean, vacuum or dust to prevent airborne particles from making their way into your body. Don’t use a dry dust rag. It will simply move the dust around instead of removing it from your environment.
Dampening a cloth with water works just as well as using a dust spray. Plus, chemicals in some cleaning products can irritate sensitive airways.
If you feel itchy during or after you clean your house, wear gloves, pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Wash your clothing immediately after you work. You may want to leave the house for a couple of hours after you clean to allow the dust to settle.
People with severe allergies may want to hire someone to clean for them. They might have a service perform a deep clean once a month and ask a friend, partner or roommate to fill in the gaps on a weekly basis.
Clean Your Upholstery
Dust mites can live in your upholstery, including curtains, bedding and couches. Using the nozzle attachment of the vacuum on your sofa once a week can help you get rid of excess dust and debris. Better yet, invest in a couch with removable cushion covers and wash them weekly.
Covering your mattress and pillows can help you fight a dust allergy. As your skin sheds, dust mites gather to feed on it. Dust mite colonies have been found to shrink when people use special covers on their mattresses, box springs, and pillows.
Wash your bedding once a week in hot water. If you have fabric curtains, you should also consider washing or vacuuming them frequently. Switching to Venetian blinds may not improve your allergy symptoms. They’re notorious for gathering dust.
Mold is a common allergen, and it’s more pervasive than you might think. Run the fan while you shower and for several minutes afterward to prevent mold from growing in the bathroom.
Move wet clothes from the washer to the dryer immediately. However, don’t dry clothing outside, where it can pick up pollen.
Indoor plants can contribute to mold allergies. Damp soil is the perfect environment for mold. You might have to get rid of your greenery if your symptoms are severe. Using artificial plants may not improve matters unless you dust them frequently.
Here are other recommendations for keeping mold at bay:
• Use a dehumidifier in damp areas, such as basements, garages and closets.
• Use humidity monitors.
• Fix leaks.
• Have your home tested for mold and remediate any problem areas.
Prevent Pet Dander
Pets with fur or feathers have dander, which is an allergen. The dander comes from the animal’s skin. It doesn’t come from the fur. Still, some animals have dander with fewer proteins that can cause allergies. Those may be better suited for people with allergies.
If you must have a pet, follow these tips to reduce your allergy symptoms:
• Vacuum frequently.
• Don’t let the animals in your bedroom.
• Wash your pets’ bedding materials in hot water once a week.
• Maintain hard flooring instead of carpet.
• Have your pet washed and groomed periodically.
Products such as cat towers, which are covered in carpet, may be difficult to clean. Avoid using items that gather dust, collect dander and can’t be laundered.
Allergies can crop up in response to pest infestations. Cockroaches and rodents can trigger allergic reactions. To avoid inviting these vermin into your home, do the following:
• Wipe food residue off of surfaces immediately.
• Don’t keep food uncovered in any room of the home.
• Get rid of trash frequently, putting it in a covered garbage can outdoors.
• Repair moisture problems that could give pests access to water.
• Reduce clutter, boxes, piles of books, stacks of newspaper and collections of paper grocery bags.
Change Your HVAC Filters
Your air conditioning and heating filters are located in the return vents, where air flows back toward the unit. The filters trap debris, preventing it from entering the equipment and impairing its operation.
If you don’t change the filters, the dust that collects in them can continue to invade your home. You should change your filters at least every three months. Some filters require monthly changing.
You may also want to have your HVAC system inspected to make sure that it’s operating efficiently. If it’s not, it could be contributing to your allergies. We can evaluate your equipment to make sure that it’s working properly.
Check Your Indoor Air Quality Our HVAC experts can also assess your indoor air quality and recommend the best approaches for improving it. Some methods for cleaning the air in your home include:
• Installing air filtration products to remove contaminants
• Controlling humidity
• Using ventilators to expel indoor air
• Utilizing ultraviolet lights do kill microbes in your ductwork and cooling system
If you would like help to improve your indoor air quality, contact us for a free consultation.