Pet, dust, mold, and pollen allergies are the worst! But, just because allergen levels are high outside does not mean you have to suffer all the time, especially within your own home. The following steps can be taken to allergy-proof your home. Note, that some of these steps can be skipped depending on what you are allergic to. A quick allergy test done at your local allergist’s office can tell you what you should be avoiding if you are unsure.
Allergy-Proofing the Bedroom:
Bedding: If you are allergic to dust, you may consider encasing pillows, mattresses, and box springs in dust-mite-proof covers. Additionally, wash your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets once a week on the “allergen” cycle of your washing machine, or in water heated to at least 130F. It may also help to replace any wool or feather bedding with synthetic materials.
Flooring: While hardwood and linoleum floors, along with washable rugs are the best flooring options for those with allergies, vacuuming weekly with a vacuum containing a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is a great way to keep your carpet allergen free.
Curtains and Blinds: We tend to forget about curtains and blinds, but they collect a lot of allergens. Purchasing curtains and blinds that are washable and washing them frequently is a good idea for those with allergies.
Windows: Especially during pollen season, close windows and put the AC on instead. Also, ensure that you are cleaning mold and condensation from window frames and sills, as the humid Houston environment is the perfect climate for mold to thrive.
Furniture: The trick is picking furniture that is easy to clean, such as those made with leather, wood, metal or plastic. Upholstered furniture is the most difficult to clean and therefore, collects allergens.
Clutter: If you need a better reason to Marie Kando your home, think about all of the dust those unused knickknacks collect. And, we’re pretty sure the allergies they cause do not bring you joy 😉
Pets: If you are allergic to animals and have one already, set boundaries. Keep animals out of the bedroom and bathe pets frequently (but not more than every other week with a sensitive skin shampoo, so as not to strip dogs fur of healthy oils and cause dry and irritated skin). If you are allergic and don’t have animals but want one, look for hypoallergenic breeds or mixes.
Air Filtration: An easy way to remove allergens from the air is to purchase an air filtration system with HEPA filter. If possible, turn the air filter so that clean air is directed towards your head when you sleep.
Allergy-Proofing Your Living Room:
*Many of the ways you can allergy-proof your bedroom can apply to your living room as well, such as flooring, windows, furniture, and clutter. However, there are a few additional possibilities, which we have provided below.
Plants: Potted plants can easily breed mold. Consider relocated any potted plants to outside or, at the minimum, spread aquarium gravel over dirt to keep mold contained.
Fireplaces: Wood-burning fireplaces can worsen respiratory allergies. Consider a natural gas fireplace instead.
Allergy-Proofing Your Kitchen:
Stove: If you don’t already have one, consider installing a vented exhaust fan to use when you are cooking. This will aid in removing fumes and moisture from the indoor air.
Sink: Wash dishes daily, and scrub the sink and faucets frequently to remove mold and debris.
Refrigerator: Regularly clean out the fridge, removing any expired items and wiping down shelf surfaces.
Cabinets and Counters: Clean cabinets and countertops using detergent and water. Check sink cabinets frequently to ensure that there are no plumbing leaks, which can lead to mold growth. Store all food in sealed containers.
Trashcans: Make sure your trashcan lid seals properly and empty food waste daily.
Allergy-Proof Your Bathroom:
Ventilation: Use your exhaust fan during baths and showers to reduce moisture in the air.
Floors: If you have a bath mat, make sure it is washable and wash it frequently.
Walls: While tile is the best for bathroom walls, those with painted walls can add a coat of mold-resistant enamel paint for a more allergy-proof alternative.
Shower and tub: Dry the shower and tub after every use. Scrub the tub, shower, and faucets with bleach weekly. Replace moldy shower curtains/bathmats as necessary.
Toilet and Sink: If you have leaks, get them repaired. Scrub with bleach weekly.
Allergy-Proof the Entire House:
Temperature: Keep the house temperature between 68F-72F. Humidity should be less than 50%. Clean or replace small particle filters once a month.
Pests: Pests can leave residue that may trigger allergies. Call your local pest control for help as needed.
Mold: Keep doors closed during warm weather and use dehumidifiers along with AC.
Weekly Cleaning: Vacuum and mop weekly. Use a damp cloth to clean other surfaces.
Smoking: If you are a smoker, avoid smoking anywhere inside.
This article was adapted from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/in-depth/allergy/art-20049365