4 Ways to Reduce Home Allergens

Make your home a haven from the discomfort of allergy symptoms with these tips for reducing home allergens.

| March/April 2013

  • Make your home a haven from the discomfort of allergy symptoms with these cleaning and maintenance tips.
    Photo by iStock
  • High humidity in bathrooms can lead to mold growth, a potential allergen.
    Photo By Shutterstock

Do itchy eyes, sniffles and a scratchy throat sound familiar? Many of us know the symptoms of allergies: An estimated 40 percent of the population is sensitized to allergens, meaning that the immune system has a strong response when certain substances are inhaled from our environment. Common allergens include pollen, mold, pet dander and dust mites—tiny bugs that feast on shed flakes of skin and are a common cause of year-round allergies and asthma. Allergic reactions range from mild coldlike symptoms to headaches to an aggravation of asthma symptoms. Sufferers do not always recognize allergens as the cause of their symptoms.

Even indoors, allergies often worsen as spring approaches. At this time of year, certain pollen counts rise and humidity levels typically increase, encouraging the growth of mold and dust mites. While some of this is out of our control, we can take steps to reduce the level of allergens in our homes, keeping ourselves and our families feeling better and breathing easier. These four cleaning and maintenance tactics can reduce our exposure to allergens and provide a powerful boost to overall health.  

1. Rid Bedroom of Allergens Regularly

Time required: 1 to 1½ hours every one to two weeks

Most adults spend six to 12 hours each day in the bedroom, and children may spend even more time there. Studies show that more dust mites live in the bedroom than anywhere else in the home. Use this cleaning regimen weekly or biweekly to reduce the prevalence of pet dander, pollen and dust mites. Wash bedding and curtains; vacuum upholstered furniture, mattresses and carpets; and dust with a damp cloth. Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to capture allergens, and run washable stuffed animals, throw rugs and pillows through the washing machine. Bag unwashable items and put them in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to kill dust mites.

To further reduce allergens between cleanings, keep humidity levels low to deter dust mite and mold growth, remove shoes before entering the bedroom to avoid tracking chemicals and allergens in from outside, encase pillows and mattresses in zippered dust-proof covers, and keep furry pets out of bedrooms.  

2. Conduct a Home Mold Audit

Time required: 1 to 3 hours once a year

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