Allergy Season Survival Guide
Lock Out Pollen
Keep seasonal allergens outside by instituting a shoes-off policy to avoid tracking pollen into living spaces. If you spend the day outdoors, change clothes as soon as you get home and bathe before bedtime to wash away the pollen and outdoor mold spores that can cling to your hair and skin.
Banish Mold and Mildew
Most major mold problems start in the basement or crawlspace and are caused by excessive moisture that wicks its way up through the house, feeding mold and mildew along the way. So you'll want to take steps to prevent wet basements, to keep moisture levels in check and avoid mold buildup in other damp places like kitchens and baths. Do this by cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces regularly and use bath exhaust fans to remove the water vapor that can settle and create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Also, launder kitchen and bath linens frequently, and be attentive to plumbing leaks that can lead to hidden mold issues.
Looking to prevent toxic mold in the home? Get Tom's 10 tips for a mold-free house.
Cut Out Carpet
For allergy sufferers, carpet is just about the worst choice for floor covering. Carpeting tends to trap and hold allergens of all kinds and is especially welcoming to dust mites. Wherever possible, replace carpet with wood, tile or linoleum flooring and use washable throw rugs for a bit of carpet-style cush. By doing so, you'll banish 90 percent of dust mites from a space!
Clean the Air
Those soothing springtime breezes also carry allergens, so if you are lucky enough to have central air conditioning, use it! Keeping windows closed and attic fans off minimizes the amount of pollens that can float into your house. You can also prevent the development of other indoor allergens like mold by keeping home humidity at about 40 percent with the help of whole home dehumidifiers and inexpensive at-home humidity monitors. Want more tips? Breathe easier with more ways to improve indoor air quality and reduce allergens.
Choose Dust-Free Décor
Just like carpet, the presence of upholstered furnishings, fabric-heavy window treatments and ornate, dust-grabbing accents can all contribute to your allergy misery. Instead of filling your home with those materials, select washable slipcovers and pillow shams, clean-lined décor and a clutter-free design.
Get 5 more allergy-fighting tips from Tom.
A vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter will help keep your home super clean year-round, as will sticking to a good routine of cleaning and replacing furnace filters. Efficient whole-home air cleaners can also be extremely effective in filtering out even virus-sized particles. You can further supplement your clean-air efforts with portable air filtration devices. Available in such varieties as mechanical, electronic and hybrid, the best and most effective single-room air filters will carry both the UL seal and FDA Class II medical device approval.
Many allergens are airborne, but far more are resting on surfaces within your home. As an allergy sufferer, you may totally detest cleaning, but the longer you wait, the higher the risk will be that what is on those surfaces will go airborne and make you miserable. Frequent light cleanings are the best way to stay on top of what falls on your hard surfaces.
If you are a green-minded, energy-saving type who uses the all-natural clothesline approach to drying laundry, keep in mind that doing so means pollen will easily embed itself in your freshly cleaned clothes. Find a space for an inside clothesline and wash clothing and bedding in hot water to kill dust mites and clear away other allergens.
Pet dander can also aggravate allergies in a big way, so be sure to bathe pets weekly and keep their bedding clean. Keep pets outside if possible, minimize their contact with soft furnishings and banish them from your bedroom in order to maintain this critical dander-free zone.
For sound, allergen-free sleep, choose a non-allergenic mattress and bedding, and use dust-mite-proof casings for mattresses, comforters and pillows. Also remember to wash bedding weekly, and carefully store clothing quickly instead of leaving it out where it 's exposed to airborne dust and allergens.