How to Reduce Allergens in Your Home
It’s spring in North Carolina and Raleigh residents are already feeling the effects of pollen allergies. The pollen count has been in the range considered high (9.7 to 12.0—the maximum) every day this week.
Allergies are not just an outdoor threat. Even inside your home pollen and other irritants can wreak havoc on allergy sufferers. Below are seven tips for making your home a safe haven for allergy sufferers:
1) Use Washable Curtains and Blinds
Curtains, drapes, and blinds attract and collect allergens like dust and pollen. Allergens can collect on your drapes and blinds for some time before homeowners notice they are dirty. Furthermore, basic dusting or vacuuming may not be enough to remove irritants from hard-to-clean materials.
A simple solution is to replace your drapes or curtains with washing-machine-safe cotton or synthetic options. The washing machine will significantly reduce the effects of dust and pollen. Also consider replacing your blinds with washable roller shades. This can go a long way toward making allergy sufferers in your home more comfortable.
2) Use Washable Rugs and Floor Mats
At least during allergy season, replace your designer rugs with washing-machine safe rugs and floor mats. Sweep, dust, and mop your floors as often as they show dust or pollen. If carpet is your primarily flooring, consider replacing it with hardwood or laminate, especially in areas of your home where allergy sufferers spend the most time.
3) Keep Gutters and Siding Clean
During fall and winter, gutters often become clogged with debris. When April showers arrive, water does not adequately drain from clogged gutters, leading to the development of mold, mildew, and wood rot. Mold and mildew is a significant irritant for allergy sufferers.
Keeping gutters free of debris will help prevent the development and spread of mold and mildew. Additionally, power washing dirty siding can help wash pollen away. However, if your gutters or siding are damaged, it can lead to moisture problems that exasperate allergies. Contact a professional as soon as possible if your siding or gutters are damaged, cracked or worn out.
4) Organize and Clean Regularly
Dust mites and other allergens love to hide in clutter. In rooms in which allergy sufferers spend the most time:
- Sweep and mop regularly, as often as daily
- Vacuum carpeted rooms as often as daily
- Organize everything and minimize clutter
- Only store dry clothing in closets
- Place clean laundry in drawers, dirty laundry in hampers—don’t leave it out in piles
5) Close Your Windows
We love to save on our energy bills during spring and fall by turning off our HVAC units and opening the windows; however, even with window screens, open windows are an invitation for pollen to invade your home.
Running your heating and air conditioning system is helpful for allergy sufferers. Air entering through your HVAC system is filtered before it passes through your supply vents, reducing the amount of allergens entering your home. Consider only opening windows when the wind is calm. This will minimize the potential for pollen to enter your home.
If your windows are drafty, pollen and dust will be allowed to enter your home. Additionally, drafty windows increase energy consumption and subsequently energy bills. If you suspect you have drafty windows, contact a professional before summer weather sets in.
*Remember to replace your filters monthly, or as often as they are dirty.
6) Implement a No Shoes Rule
Reduce the amount of grasses, dirt, and pollen tracked through your house by implementing a “no shoes” rule. This will help mitigate the amount allergens passing through your home, but it will not eliminate pollen that attaches to clothing and pets.
7) Clean Your Ceiling Fans
Out of sight, out of mind. We often forget about the dust particles and allergens building up on our ceiling fans. Left dormant all winter, when we finally start using fans again in spring and summer, if they are not properly cleaned, they are showering allergens down on our families.
Use a tall brush to free the fan of debris and then sweep or vacuum it from the floor. In addition to ceiling fans, other fans can develop dirt and debris build up as well. Make sure all fans are clean before using them, especially in areas of the home allergy sufferers frequent.
It is impossible to completely allergy-proof your home, but these steps should help reduce the sniffles till summer.