As it begins to get colder outside, people begin to spend more times indoors. This can be a problem if you have allergies aggravated by indoor allergens such as dust, mold, and pet dander. Luckily, you don’t just have to suffer all fall and winter long. Here is how to clean your home to eliminate allergens and reduce your symptoms.
1. Know Your Triggers:
The first thing you need to do is identify your allergy triggers. Many people already know what they’re allergic too, but if you don’t, it’s time to investigate. Keep track of what is nearby when you experience allergens symptoms, and visit your doctor for allergy testing if you need to.
Here are some of the most common environmental allergies:
- Dust mites
- Cat and dog dander
- Tree, grass, and weed pollen
- Mold spores
2. Keep the House Cool and Dry
If you are allergic to dust mites and mold spores, one of the biggest things that you can do is try to keep the house at 50% relative humidity or lower. This will make your home less of a haven for these allergens that thrive in humid environments.
3. Eliminate Standing Water Sources
Another breeding ground for mold: standing water. If you have mold allergies, it’s a good idea to check and make sure that nothing in your house is leaking or has standing water sitting around to help alleviate the problem. Be sure to check under and behind water-using appliances such as your fridge and washer.
4. Wash or Replace Moldy Shower Curtains
Mold loves your bathroom because it’s steamy and damp. One of the biggest culprits of mold in a home is the shower curtain. Check the care tag on your shower curtain to learn how to clean it; often you can just throw it in the wash and hang it back up to dry. Also, try to reduce the moisture and humidity in your bathroom to prevent future mold growth. The best way to do this is by running the fan or a dehumidifier during and after showers.
5. Remove Dust
Another common allergen in the house is dust. Dust builds up naturally on most surfaces in the home and needs to be removed regularly. Be sure to clean dust correctly. Feather dusters just push dust around, making you more likely to breathe it in. A damp cloth or paper towel traps the dust instead so you can actually dispose of it.
6. Deep Clean Trapped Allergens
Dust also builds up in your carpet, rugs, and upholstered furniture, which act as air filters for your home by trapping allergens. Your carpet should be vacuumed weekly and deep cleaned every 3-4 months to remove build-up. Have your furniture professionally cleaned at the same time for the best results.
7. Open (or Close) Your Windows
This advice might seem contradictory, but depending on your allergies you should open or close your windows. Let me explain: if you are allergic to indoor allergens, opening your windows will allow fresh air to circulate in your home. However, if you are allergic to anything like pollen, close your windows to keep it out of your home.
8. Wash and Air out Bed Linens Regularly
You bed traps dust and other allergens, and you lay on it every night. That’s not good for any allergy sufferer. To help with this, it’s recommended that you wash your bedding every 1-2 weeks. If you find that you have bad allergies at night even after washing your sheets, clean your mattress and pillows too to see if it helps.
9. Avoid Strong or Scented Cleaners
Cleaning your home can help with your allergies, however, using the wrong cleaners can actually make your allergies worse. Consider trading out strong chemicals for more natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda.
10. Change HVAC Filters Regularly
Your home filters trap allergens and keep them from circulating throughout your home. However, they need to be changed to be effective. Change your filter every 6-12 months, or closer to every 90 days if your allergies are severe. Also be sure to set your MERV rating correctly. Most homes use filters rated between 7-12.
There you have it. Cleaning your home correctly can help reduce your allergy symptoms in the fall and winter months.