Ways to make your home allergy-proof
Let’s start with the bedroom. You probably spend more time in your room in a 24 hour period than anywhere else. Eliminate as many dust collectors as possible, such as books, knick-knacks, and toys. Ideally, this room should be a real “bed” room.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests that you remove the carpet and place an anti-dust mite coating on the mattress, pillows, and box springs. Wash all bedding in hot water to kill dust mites, and replace heavy fabric curtains with easy-to-clean blinds or shades. Remove ceiling fans, as they can stoke dust mites, molds and irritants.
If you have an allergy to animals, ideally there should be no pets in the house. But any pets you have should be kept away from the room.
If your child has soft toys in their bedroom, put as many of them as possible. To help kill dust mites, place toys your child needs to sleep with in the freezer once a week for several hours.
In the kitchen, there are ways to reduce your exposure to allergens. Make sure to wash all the dishes as soon as you finish eating to keep cockroaches away. Equally important, make sure all food is kept in tightly covered containers and that the kitchen trash can is always securely sealed. Clean food crumbs from counters, cabinets and floors.
Make sure there are no leaks under the sink as they contribute to mold growth. Watch for mold around the sink and refrigerator, and empty any drip pan under the refrigerator, which can harbor mold and be breeding ground for cockroaches.
Use an exhaust fan above the stove to remove irritating cooking fumes.
Family room or other common areas
Our next stop is the family room. If you have asthma, avoid using wood-burning fireplaces, as soot and smoke can make breathing problems worse. Use natural gas logs to keep the air clearer.
Potted plants can harbor mold and release it into the air when watered. Ideally, remove most plants and keep only a few. Check all window seams for moisture, as mold is sure to grow.
As in the bedroom, remove all the carpet and replace it with a hardwood or linoleum floor. If you are using rugs, make sure they are washable. However, carpet removal is not an option for everyone. In this case, use a vacuum cleaner with a high energy particle accelerator, or HEPA filter. This will help trap pollen, animal dander, mold spores, and dust mite allergens when vacuuming.
It is also better not to have upholstered furniture. Leather, wood or plastic furniture is more antiallergic. Keep windows closed during fall and spring to keep pollen out.
Finally, check the bathroom. You need good ventilation to make sure that the humidity in sinks, tubs and showers does not cause mold to grow. Check under sinks and around toilets to make sure there are no leaks. Bleach solutions are helpful in removing mold and mildew buildup in the tub and shower.
Avoid carpeting in favor of tile, linoleum or hardwood floors in this room. If there are rugs in the bathroom, they should be washable. Avoid wallpaper in the bathroom, as mold usually grows behind. Stick to the painted walls.
For some homes with high humidity, a dehumidifier can be helpful in removing moisture from the air and preventing the growth of mold and mites. Replace your heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC filters every three months with a MERV Rating (minimum efficiency ratio values, which indicate a filter’s ability to capture larger particles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency) about 10 to 12 to make sure they can trap allergens in the air . If you want an air filter for the whole house or just a room, get a HEPA filter. This generally should not be done unless the other measures discussed are not effective enough.
And it goes without saying that smoking should never be allowed in the house.
Following these tips should result in a more allergy-free environment, making your home the sanctuary you seek – free from sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes.