We now have dozens of medications and treatments for the abundance of allergies and allergy symptoms that plague us, mostly in the spring and summer. However, providing your body support against harmful allergens, such as pollen, dust and pet dander, does not start with a visit to the doctor. Rather, the first and most effective way to treat allergies is to get their sources out of your home. Here are 10 simple things you can do to make your home allergen-free just in time for spring.
Stagnant items, such as stuffed animals, baskets, magazine holders, rugs and other decorative items, often become glorified dust receptacles during allergy season. Remove any unneeded items, especially from bedrooms.
The best way to keep your home free of harmful allergens is to clean thoroughly and regularly. You don’t need fancy or expensive cleaners; rather, a solution with five percent bleach will work wonders. Just be sure to wipe down with water any surfaces that will come into contact with food.
Ideally, any carpet or rugs should be replaced with tile or hardwood surfaces. However, that probably isn’t an option in your Detroit apartment, so be sure to vacuum at least once a week, not forgetting to vacuum any fabrics on sofas and chairs. If you have a pet in your home and/or you have severe allergies, vacuum every other day, but protect yourself by wearing a mask. Also, make sure you’re using a high-quality vacuum that will gather and capture as many allergens as possible.
Dust and dust mites are the most prevalent allergy culprits. Dust attaches to surfaces all over your apartment and can float in the air for minutes before settling, so don’t simply push it from a shelf and into the air you breathe. Instead, use a damp cloth on all surfaces – careful not to miss any rarely used places – to remove dust particles and pollen. Also make sure your clothes are stored in drawers and closets, so they don’t gather extra dust.
Dust mites reside primarily in beds and bedrooms, so make sure you wash your bedding – comforters, blankets and quilts included – regularly in hot water. For children and severe allergy sufferers, bedding should be washed at least once a week. Do not place any bedding, pillows or stuffed animals on the bed if they cannot withstand multiple washings.
Pets warm our hearts, but they also aggravate our allergies. To stay healthy and keep your beloved dog or cat happy, create a space just for him or her. If your allergies are severe, you may need to keep your pet outdoors. However, another option is to designate a room or area for the pet exclusively. Bathe and groom your pet often, and keep him or her off of furniture and your bed.
Allergies can be kept at bay by breathing in clean air. Keep windows and doors closed, and use air purifiers with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters to remove allergens from the air you breathe in.
Mold that accumulates in moist, dark places can trigger harsh allergy reactions. Rid your apartment of mold by regularly checking for leaks and ensuring that your home, especially the bathroom and kitchen, is well ventilated. Humidity should be between 40 and 50 percent, so consider getting a dehumidifier if the humidity in your apartment consistently stays above 50 percent. Also, keep the thermostat down, ideally between 68 and 72 degrees, and run the air conditioner often, as it will act as an additional air filter in the summer.
Consider replacing your normal bedding with mite-resistant materials, including latex mattresses, silk sheets and comforters, hypoallergenic bed casings and mattress covers. Avoid using feather pillows and bedding, as well as bulky quilts. In other areas of your home, try to buy smooth-surfaced furniture, such as leather, vinyl or suede. Install washable curtains, and consider dust covers for all of your furniture.
Cigarette smoke is an egregious irritator of allergies, so establish a strict “No Smoking” policy for your home. If visitors insist on it, have them smoke outside and then spray their clothing with a fragrance-less odor remover upon reentering the apartment.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/efenzi