When you hear the word “allergies,” you may think of hay fever. However, indoor allergies are an even more common problem. Poor indoor air quality can lead to red, itchy eyes, sneezing, asthma attacks, and even chronic headaches. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce indoor allergens and breathe easy.
Get Rid of the Carpet
Although it may look pristine on the surface, even the nicest carpet has a not-so pretty story underneath. Carpet looks nice, and it feels wonderful on bare feet, but it’s a magnet for all sorts of allergens, from dust mites to pet dander to pollen. Many outdoor allergens come into the house on your shoes and are trapped in the carpet fibers. Frequent vacuuming with a HEPA-filtered vacuum helps, but the surest way to avoid allergens is to switch to hardwood, tile, or linoleum.
Don’t Let the Dust Bunnies Breed
House dust is a stew of allergens, especially if you have pets. Like the stuff that gets trapped in your carpets, house dust contains everything from dust mites to pet dander—all of which can make your allergies go crazy. Dusting often reduces the amount of allergens you’re exposed to and lets you breathe easier.
You’ve probably heard that your bed is a breeding ground for dust mites, but soft furniture makes a good home for them too. Steam cleaning upholstered furniture frequently can reduce the mite population significantly. Laundering curtains, throw rugs, and table linen weekly also helps.
Air Out Your Bedding
Allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers can be a good investment if you’re sensitive to dust mites. Washing all your bed linens in hot water weekly is also beneficial. However, one of the simplest and most effective things you can do is to pull back your bedding and let your bed air out for an hour or two before you make it. Dust mites can’t take the light of day and the open air, so if you make your bed immediately after rising you may be making your allergies worse.
Keep an Eye Out for Mold
Mold is an extremely common indoor allergen, and it likes warm, moist air. While an efficiently-functioning heating and cooling system should keep your home’s humidity levels too low for mold to flourish, sometimes this is not the case. If your bathroom has an exhaust fan, run this for 30 minutes after you bathe or shower to ensure proper moisture levels, and run your stove’s exhaust fan when cooking.
Change Your Filters
Your heating and cooling system can either help or hinder allergy sufferers, depending on how well you take care of it. A poorly-maintained system can spread allergens throughout your house, while a properly-functioning one can help reduce the levels of irritants in the air. Changing your filters at least once per month is vital, and buying high-quality filters can be the difference between red, itchy eyes and comfort. If it’s been a while since you’ve had it done, a professional duct cleaning can remove dust and other buildup that may travel through the duct work to contaminate your indoor air and inflame allergies.
You don’t have to live with allergies. These simple tips can help you be more comfortable all year long.