Allergies out of whack? Here’s how to create an allergy-proof bedroom
Your bedroom is meant to be your sanctuary, a place where you can relax, unwind and watch many hours of Netflix without judgement. However, it is easier said than done for someone with allergies. How are you supposed to feel at peace when you’re plagued with incessant sneezing and a ticklish nose?
If your allergies still kick in at home, or if you frequently wake up with nightmarish sinuses, your bedroom is probably to blame. It’s packed with the most common indoor allergens, from mold and dander to the collection of dust mites that collect on your sheets. Since these mites (in fact, their droppings) love beds that provide heat, moisture, and nourishment (i.e. our dead skin cells), our so-called sanctuary is also their.
If you are not sure what is causing your symptoms, you can start with an allergy test. “When it comes to allergies, knowledge is power,” says Jeffrey S. Dlott, MD, MS, senior medical director of Quest Diagnostics. “It is important to better understand any conditions that you may have in order to improve behaviors for your health.” These days, it’s easier than ever to do this with home kits that let you test for indoor allergies yourself at home. Platforms like QuestDirect Indoor Respiratory Allergy Panel can provide results within three to five days and help identify specific triggers.
Gallery: 16 Things You Never Knew Had an Expiration Date (Reader’s Digest)
If your results are positive for indoor allergens like dust mites, it’s time to turn your attention to the bedroom. Preparing your bed properly can help relieve those pesky sneezing episodes and allow for more restful, uninterrupted sleep during the hours you spend there. Read on for some simple steps you can take to make your bedroom a hypoallergenic haven.
Clean your sheets thoroughly
Allergens live in the creases and folds of your sheets. Thorough cleaning of your bedding is therefore your first line of defense. “It is recommended that you wash your bedding at least once a week in water of at least 130 ° F and use a heat-dry cycle,” says Dr. Dlott. “It is the most effective way to remove dirt, sweat, skin cells, sebum build-up and mites from your bed sheets.”
Use only hypoallergenic bedding
Speaking of linens, switching to hypoallergenic bedding can significantly relieve your symptoms by preventing dust mites from reoccurring. Materials like organic cotton, wool, bamboo, and microfiber are made from antimicrobial materials that wick away moisture and are naturally resistant to dust mites and mildew. And the higher the threads, the better, as a tightly woven structure eliminates the spaces where allergens like to grow.
But most allergists agree that the best hypoallergenic fabric is silk, which not only fights allergens but also soothes sensitive skin. (Fun fact: silkworms produce a protein that makes silk resistant to germs, mites, and other allergens.) While it’s an investment, its anti-allergic qualities and long list of benefits for hair and skin– might be worth it.
Apply dust covers
To take it a step further, apply tightly woven slipcovers with zippered envelopes to pillows, mattresses, box springs and other items that are impossible or unlikely to be washed. This will keep dust mites away and prevent them from multiplying on your bed.
Think of your pajamas as another blanket (for your shedding skin), so it’s best to change into freshly washed pajamas every night. As a precaution, make sure your pajamas are washed with hypoallergenic detergent.
Always run an air purifier
The right air filter or circulation system can be a great ally in your fight against allergies. You can either add them directly to your furnace, or install a room unit; look for an air filtration system that uses a small particle or HEPA filter, which will help remove dust, pollen, and mold spores from the air.
Declutter your space
If something traps dust, it will attract mites. Try to get rid of anything in your bedroom that can easily collect dust – the less upholstery in the room, the better. This includes stuffed animals, excess cushions, and chairs without leather. Books also accumulate a lot of dust, so move them to another room when you’re not reading them.
Do you have carpet? Consider replacing it with parquet if possible. It’s also a good idea to remove all rugs from the area (sorry, rug lovers) as they tend to collect a lot of dust. If you can’t help but have carpeted floors in your bedroom, vacuum with a double micro-filter bag or HEPA filter every other day. Wear a face mask while vacuuming so you don’t inhale allergens, and limit your vacuuming to the day so that dust has time to settle before you fall asleep.
Don’t make your bed
Take this tip with a grain of salt, but studies indicated that an unmade bed is better for allergy sufferers. This is because dust mites thrive in the humid, warm conditions of a well-made bed, but dry out when the blankets are thrown. “We know that dust mites can only survive by absorbing water from the atmosphere,” said study principal investigator Stephen Pretlove. “Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the dust mites will dehydrate and eventually die. That’s not to say that not making your bed will totally eliminate dust mites, but it’s a solid excuse for the lazy among us.