The earth is in bloom and so are you allergies. We want to share ideas on how to prevent household allergies from infesting your home to begin with.
After your initial spring cleaning spree, consider these tips to reduce your allergies through spring and year round.
1. Know Your Triggers
Knowing what sets off your allergies will be key in managing the symptoms. If you don’t already know, see an allergist who can pinpoint them exactly. Then, you can take a targeted approach to cleaning instead of hoping to cover them all.
2. Allergy-proof Your Bedding
Consider buying allergy-proof casings for your mattress, box spring and pillows. They’re no longer the noisy, plastic coverings you remember and even come in fabrics like cotton, but they still prevent your bedding from absorbing allergens and aggravating your symptoms.
3. Change Your Curtains
Frilly curtains and venetian blinds, though pretty, are allergen traps. If you don’t want to spend the extra time cleaning them, swap them out for curtains and window dressings that are easily thrown in the wash.
4. Upgrade Your Vacuum
This is a long term investment that will more that justify its price tag. Either purchase a hard-shell container (don’t forget to empty it outside) or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) bag vacuum. Both prevent household allergies from blowing back out, which most conventional vacuums do, for a better clean. If you aren’t already, be sure to vacuum once or twice a week.
5. Replace Furnace Filter
At least every three months. Use ones with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) of at least 8. The higher the value, the more particulates it will trap, but 8 will do a sufficient job keeping allergens at bay.
6. Get a (De)Humidifier
Either will do depending on your current level of humidity, but you’ll want to aim for 40% humidity. They help to decrease mold, mites and cockroaches, and you should clean the tray at least once a month. Unfortunately, air purifiers are a misnomer and don’t work as well as the dehumidifiers and humidifiers for allergens.
7. Plastic Containers
There’s nothing wrong with storage, but if you’re a spring allergy sufferer, it may be a problem. You can abate the issue by switching your mold-loving cardboard boxes for water-proof plastic ones. The added bonus? Get clear ones and you’ll be able to see what’s inside without opening it.
8. Call an Exterminator
You can throw everything you’ve got at cockroaches, but sometimes they just won’t go away. This could have nothing to do with your cleanliness and everything to do with the region you live in. If you’ve tried everything, it may be time to call in the big, pest-eliminating guns.
9. Ban Fido
As much as you love your pets, they might be aggravating your symptoms, whether it’s their dander or the plants they rolled around in. It’s hard to tell them no, but if you keep them off of the furniture and your bed (both absorb allergens), your allergies will thank you.
10. Wash Fido, Too
Speaking of your pets, give them a good wash once a week to keep their dander at bay. Yes that includes cats if you can manage it.
11. Free Your A/C
At the beginning of spring and periodically thereafter, give your A/C unit a once over. Make sure that it’s free of leaves and debris so the moldy spores don’t get sucked into your house. Check your yard to for decaying foliage because the wind can bring those spores inside. If you insist on having a compost, make sure that it’s contained and not in the open air.
12. Minimize Clutter
Spring cleaning should involve some organizing, too, because clutter hides allergens. Get rid of all those old magazines and put away unnecessary tchotchkes to minimize the dust around your house (not to mention making dusting quicker).
13. Replace Bathroom Wallpaper
Wallpaper, though beautiful, is horrible for your bathroom because it absorbs moisture and therefore will grow mold. Even if you can’t see it. If you’re sensitive to mold or just notice you flair up in the bathroom, replace wallpaper with mold-resistant paint or tile to prevent household allergies. Also, run the exhaust fan after use to dry out your bathroom more quickly.
14. Lock Up
Keep doors and windows closed at night and don’t head out between 5:00 AM – 10:00 AM if you can. These are peak allergen hours that will really set you into overdrive. We know the cool night air feels lovely, but if you want to abate your allergies, run the A/C instead. If you’re extremely sensitive whenever you head outdoors, change your clothes and put the old ones in the wash when you get home and don’t hang your laundry outside to collect pollens and allergens.