More than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergies each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If you have allergies, you know how inconvenient and uncomfortable they can be — especially in your own home.
The good news is there are things you can do around the house to help reduce your allergy symptoms. Breathe easy with these ten tips for allergy-proofing your home.
1. Watch for Mold
Mold is a big trigger for allergy symptoms for many people. There are many types of mold, but all of them thrive in dark, damp environments. Places like your bathroom, basement and under sinks become breeding grounds for all kinds of this fungus, including dangerous black mold.
The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Reducing moisture in your home, especially your bathroom, is the key to avoiding mold.
Use a shower squeegee to remove excess water from the sides of your shower when you get out. Regularly clean your shower curtain with a mold-killing cleaner to help get rid of mold as it forms. You should also be sure to hang up wet towels or clothes instead of tossing them on the floor.
2. Ditch Wall-to-Wall Carpet
Carpet traps dust, dirt, and dander, which can cause severe allergy symptoms. If you have carpet in your home, consider renovating to a hard surface. Hardwood, linoleum, and tile floors are easy to clean and aren’t able to house dust like carpet.
Add accent rugs for comfort after switching from carpeting. Rugs are easier to maintain than carpet from wall to wall.
Not everyone can remove the carpet from their home. If you need to keep your carpet, vacuum it at least once a week. Regular deep cleaning from professionals can also help reduce the dust trapped in your carpet’s fibers.
3. Take Care of Your Bedding
You probably spend a lot of time in bed, since a good night’s rest is essential to be alert and motivated each day. Improve your sleep and decrease allergy symptoms with allergen-proof bedding.
You can purchase dust-mite-proof covers for your mattress and pillows. Made of special fabric, these covers keep dust mites from living in your bedding and leaving droppings that cause allergy symptoms.
If you like to use wool or down bedding, consider switching to a synthetic alternative. Natural fibers are prone to locking in dust and dirt, potentially leaving you sneezing from dust buildup. Many synthetic products are designed to mimic natural materials while being dust-resistant.
No matter what type of bedding you use, you should wash it at least once a week. Regular washing removes the built-up dust and dander.
4. Avoid Dust-Trapping Furniture
Upholstered fabrics are prone to trapping dust, just like carpet. Try to purchase furniture without a lot of fibers.
Leather furniture is a great choice if you prefer your furniture to be completely cushioned. Vinyl, wood, and plastic furniture provide another option. Add throw pillows with washable covers and cushions that can be cleaned regularly to keep your hard-surfaced furniture comfortable.
5. Keep Pets Out of the Bedroom
You love your pets, but they might be causing your allergies. Pet dander and hair can leave you itching and sneezing. While you don’t have to get rid of your pets, you should keep them out of your bedroom.
As your pets sleep in your bed or spend time in your bedroom, their dander settles in your bedding. When you go to sleep, you spend the whole night breathing in the buildup from your pets.
6. Service Your HVAC System
Your HVAC system pulls all the air through your home, so it’s probably no surprise it can spread allergens. Reduce the spread of dust, pollen, and dander with regular maintenance on your heating and cooling system.
Replacing old air filters is the best way to stop the spread of allergens through your home. Consider upgrading to a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter to catch even small particles.
7. Try a New Vacuum
Your HVAC air filter isn’t the only filter that could probably use an upgrade. An older vacuum could be limiting the effectiveness of your cleaning. Many newer vacuums use HEPA filters to catch more allergens.
8. Close the Windows
You might think opening the windows and letting in the fresh air would reduce your allergy symptoms. If you’re allergic to pollen, however, you could actually be making them worse. Open windows let pollen and dust float right into your home.
Close your windows and use your air conditioner instead of opening the windows. You should also avoid fans, which spread allergens through the air. Your air conditioning, on the other hand, filters out the allergens as it moves air through your home.
If you have air conditioning, this is the time to use it instead of opening your windows. Your air conditioning, filters out the allergens as it moves air through your home. Fans spread allergens through the air, so avoid using if you can. If going fan free isn’t possible, at least make sure the blades are kept dust free by wiping regularly.
9. Invest in a Dehumidifier
Mold and dust mites are more likely to show up if your home is humid. Adding a dehumidifier to your house helps remove the ideal environment for these allergens. Consider adding a dehumidifier to hotspots for allergens, like your bedroom or basement.
Be sure to clean your dehumidifier regularly. Letting it go too long without cleaning could end up causing more issues than it solves. For example, the water that collects in your dehumidifier could start to produce mold inside the tank.
10. Stick to a Regular Cleaning Routine
The most important tip for reducing allergens in your home is simply cleaning more often. A clean home doesn’t give allergens like dust or mold the chance to settle in. Set up a regular cleaning schedule with daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks.
Keep your home clean and consider investing in allergy-reducing products, like HEPA filters, so you can enjoy your home without allergy symptoms.