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Eliminate Allergens for a Healthier Home

March 5, 2024

Eliminate Allergens for a Healthier Home

What are Common Indoor Allergens?

The most common indoor allergens are:

  • Dust mites – Microscopic bugs that live in fabrics, carpets, upholstered furniture, and bedding. Their droppings and decaying bodies are very allergenic.
  • Pets – Pet dander, urine, saliva, and shed hair can trigger allergic reactions. Cats and dogs are the biggest culprits.
  • Mold – Mold spores thrive in damp areas like basements, bathrooms, and around leaks. Inhaling spores can cause allergy symptoms.
  • Pollen – Tiny particles released by trees, grasses, and weeds. Pollen from outdoors can be tracked inside on shoes and clothing.
  • Pests – Droppings and body parts from pests like cockroaches and mice are allergens. They harbor in kitchens, basements, attics, etc.

For people with allergies, exposure to these allergens can cause symptoms like sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose, itching, and wheezing. Reducing allergens at home provides relief.

Tips to Reduce Dust Mites

Dust mites thrive in fabrics and soft furnishings. Here are some tips to decrease dust mites:

  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water above 130°F to kill mites and remove allergens.
  • Encase mattresses and pillows in special zipped covers to lock out mites.
  • Wash stuffed toys weekly to remove allergens. Consider removing fabric toys from bedrooms.
  • Remove carpets and upholstered furniture, or vacuum and steam clean them regularly.
  • Use wood, leather, or vinyl furniture instead of fabric upholstery.
  • Install washable window blinds. Keep them clean and dust-free.

Vacuuming with a HEPA filter, dusting frequently, and controlling humidity below 50% also helps reduce dust mite populations.

Pet Allergy Management Tips

To live more comfortably with pet allergies:

  • Keep pets out of bedrooms and use washable rugs/bedding instead of carpets and fabrics.
  • Bathe pets weekly to reduce dander levels.
  • Groom pets outdoors to avoid scattering allergens in the house.
  • Use HEPA air filters to remove pet allergens circulating indoors.
  • Vacuum twice a week using a HEPA vacuum to eliminate dander and hair.
  • Wash hands after handling pets to avoid transferring allergens to eyes or nose.
  • Use pet wipes to remove dander from fur when pets can’t be bathed.

Medication can also help reduce pet allergy symptoms for some people. Air purifiers and frequent laundering of fabrics may provide additional relief in pet-friendly homes.

Controling Mold Growth

To prevent mold growth:

  • Fix plumbing leaks promptly to deny mold the moisture it needs.
  • Use exhaust fans when showering or cooking to reduce indoor humidity.
  • Ventilate basements and attics to prevent dampness and condensation.
  • Clean refrigerator drip trays, AC units, and dehumidifiers where condensation collects.
  • Avoid carpeting basements or other damp areas of the home.

To remove existing mold:

  • Wear protective gear when handling mold – N95 mask, goggles, and gloves.
  • Clean small areas with detergent, scrub brush, and water.
  • Hire mold remediation experts for large contaminated areas >10 sq ft.

Keeping indoor humidity below 50% inhibits further mold growth after cleanup. Dehumidifiers, ventilation, and air conditioning help maintain lower humidity.

Blocking Pollen Entry

Pollen is unavoidable but you can limit exposure:

  • Close doors and windows when pollen counts are high. Run A/C if possible.
  • Use High Efficiency filters in A/C units and air purifiers to trap pollen.
  • Limit time outdoors when pollen counts are high.
  • Shower/wash hair after going outside to remove pollen.
  • Dry laundry inside to prevent pollen from collecting on fabric.
  • Wipe down pets who go outside to remove pollen from fur.

Additional tips:

  • Remove shoes worn outdoors so you don’t track in pollen.
  • Use floor mats at doorways to help trap pollen on shoes.
  • Keep grass short and remove outdoor plants that aggravate allergies.

Proper air filtration paired with common sense precautions can help minimize exposure to outdoor allergens that make their way indoors.

Preventing Pests

Integrated pest management can reduce pests and allergens:

  • Seal cracks and crevices so pests can’t enter or nest in the home.
  • Install door sweeps and screens on windows/vents to block access.
  • Store food in sealed containers. Don’t leave crumbs or spills.
  • Clean under appliances, furniture, and in cluttered areas where pests like to hide.
  • Fix plumbing leaks and insulate pipes to deny pests water sources.
  • Inspect packages and produce for signs of pests hitchhiking indoors.
  • If needed, use pesticides or traps to eliminate infestations.

Traps and poisons should always be a last resort for pest control. Restricting entry, food, water, and shelter makes homes far less inviting to pests while reducing reliance on hazardous chemicals.

Conclusion

The key steps to reducing indoor allergens are:

  • Control moisture and humidity levels below 50%.
  • Remove dust reservoirs like carpeting and fabric furnishings.
  • Clean frequently to eliminate dust and dander.
  • Filter indoor air and ventilate rooms.
  • Avoid tracking in pollen on clothing and pets.
  • Keep pests securely blocked from entering the home.

Taking an active approach to limiting exposure to indoor allergens can greatly reduce symptoms and create a healthier home environment. A few adjustments go a long way towards living comfortably even with sensitivities to common allergens.

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