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How to Eliminate Allergens From Your Home: A Room-by-Room Guide

How to Eliminate Allergens From Your Home: A Room-by-Room Guide

 

Nearly a third of Americans suffer from allergies of some type, and many of those are sensitive to common airborne allergens that include tree, grass, and weed pollen, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, and mold. Some of these allergens find their way into your home through open windows and on the clothes and shoes you bring inside when you come home. Others originate within your property itself.

 

Whether you are a homemaker or a busy professional, you probably spend much more time at home than you realize, especially once you consider the eight or so hours during which you sleep. Do you suffer from itchy, irritated and swollen eyes when you’re at home? Do you find yourself sneezing, dealing with nasal congestion, or having a runny nose a lot? Do you cough? Do you constantly feel tired?

 

You may already have been diagnosed with a particular allergy, or you may simply — and quite reasonably — assume that you have allergies based on these symptoms. There is absolutely no question that some allergens are present within your home, no matter what steps you have already taken. You can, however, always do more to rid your safe space of particles that make you sick.

 

What Allergens Are Most Often Found in Homes?

 

The most common airborne allergens with homes include:

 

  • Pollen. Tree pollen allergies tend to kick off in the spring, but may also begin late in the winter. Grass pollen allergies reach a height during the summer months, while ragweed allergies are a problem during the fall. The fact that the plants and trees producing this pollen are located outside in no way means that the pollen does not find its way into your home, and you are likely to have higher pollen concentrations in your home if offending trees and grasses grow in its immediate vicinity.
  • Dust mites. These tiny arachnids are so called because they primarily feed on the substances that commonly make up household dust, including skin cells you have shed yourself. In addition to this food source, they require high-humidity environments to thrive. Dust mites are believed to be the single most common trigger of indoor allergies and asthma attacks caused by indoor allergens, and they could live in your home without you ever knowing it.
  • Cockroaches, likewise, do well in moist environments. These common pests shun light, and therefore hide during the day and while you have the lights on. It is, therefore, possible to have a cockroach infestation without knowing it. If you do see a few roaches, you can rest assured that many more are in hiding deep within your home.
  • Pet dander allergies are, in fact, a reaction to a certain protein found within the skin cells and other organic matter feathered and furry pets leave behind. Cats, dogs, and rodents are all common culprits, and cat urine, too, is known to cause allergic reactions.

 

The final common offender would be mold. Around 10 percent of the population is allergic to mold spores, but prolonged mold exposure may cause allergy-like symptoms even in people who are not allergic. In addition to being allergenic, mold may also be toxic or pathogenic (causing dangerous systemic infections).

 

It is vital to keep in mind that allergies often overlap; if you are allergic to one common allergen, you are likely to be sensitive to others as well. People who suffer allergy symptoms while they are at home throughout the year can quite safely cross the possibility that they are only allergic to seasonal pollen off their lists. Rather, it is more likely that they are allergic to pet dander, mold, insects, or dust mites. The fact that roaches, dust mites, and mold all thrive in humid environments even make it fairly likely that, if you have a problem with one of them, you also have a problem with the others.

 

People who have been diagnosed with allergies, through blood or skin prick tests, can, of course, find some relief from debilitating allergy symptoms by relying on over-the-counter or prescription medications, and they may even consider allergy shots in some cases. However, reducing your exposure to allergens is always your best option. How can you do that in your home? Let’s examine that further.

 

How to Reduce Allergens in your Living Room

 

In your living room, you can combat your allergies by:

 

  • Considering getting rid of any rugs you have immediately, and replacing curtains with easily-cleanable blinds. Replace carpet flooring with wood or tile flooring if you can. Allergens easily build up within fabrics, and carpets, especially, can become sources of mold growth if they are exposed to water damage.
  • Vacuuming your living room at least weekly, and preferably more often, with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. Robotic vacuum cleaners are excellent choices for people who want to keep their rooms dust-free as well.
  • Keeping household dust accumulation to a minimum by dusting surfaces often.
  • Equipping your couch and other upholstered furniture with removable covers, and washing them often.
  • Considering getting rid of house plants, as mold spores frequently accumulate around plants and within soil. Plants also increase your humidity levels.

 

Those people with severe seasonal pollen allergies could consider keeping their windows closed to reduce the risk that pollen enters the room. Everyone else should, however, open their windows daily for increased ventilation, which reduces the risk of mold.

 

How to Reduce Allergens In Your Bedroom

 

Your bedroom poses a special risk, considering that you spend much of your time there and allergy-related poor sleep quality can severely impact your waking life. In addition, the fact that your bedroom is filled with fabrics makes it harder to keep dust-free. You can:

 

  • Use mattress covers and dust mite covers for your pillows, and launder your sheets and other bedding, along with your curtains, at least weekly.
  • Replace carpets with tiles or wood flooring.
  • Vacuum frequently; maybe even every other day.
  • If you have pet allergies or pollen allergies, keep any pet you have outside of your bedroom. If you have pollen allergies, shower before you go to bed.

 

In children’s bedrooms, you will want to pay additional attention to plush toys and vacuum these. It can be expensive to install HEPA air purifiers, which filter over 99 percent of airborne particles, including allergens, from the air all over your home. If you were going to purchase HEPA air purifiers only for certain spaces, bedrooms would be the ideal choice.

 

How to Reduce Allergens in your Bathroom and Kitchen

 

Both these rooms are chronically exposed to moisture. If you are not careful, your kitchen and bathroom can quickly develop a humidity problem, or remain wet after they are used. This creates the perfect conditions for pests like cockroaches and mold alike. To combat the allergens these infestations would release, you can:

 

  • Install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom, to allow for excess moisture to be eliminated; particularly if you cannot increase ventilation by opening windows.
  • Wipe down and dry all surfaces after use, such as bathtubs, shower cabins, counter tops, and sinks.
  • Choose tiling or mold-resistant paint for your walls.
  • Avoid the use of carpets or rugs in these areas.
  • Do not leave damp fabrics such as towels and wet clothes in these areas.
  • In the case of your kitchen, remove used food scraps immediately and promptly take care of the dishes to avoid mold growth.

 

How to Reduce Allergens in Attics and Basements

 

Attics and basements are often overlooked, but they shouldn’t be. These are the spaces where you are likely to store items that you don’t know what else to do, as well as the rooms that are most likely to suffer from hidden leaks and moisture buildup. These rooms, too, should be vacuumed often and kept free of needless fabrics. Should you notice any leak (in the form of wet or moist spots), those should be repaired as soon as possible. Any stored items should be placed in airtight containers.

 

How to Reduce Allergens All Over Your Home

 

Keeping your home as clean as possible, maintaining a relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent, and ventilating the space very well, are the most effective measures any homeowner can take to reduce allergens across their entire property. You can find out how humid various spaces in your home are by purchasing an inexpensive humidity meter from almost any home improvement store. If you discover that the humidity is too high, consider installing a dehumidifier.

 

All spaces should be vacuumed and dusted frequently, and food sources for pests (including pet food) should safely be discarded as soon as possible. It is also good practice to eliminate fabrics you do not need from your home. Carpets pose a big risk. When moist or soaked, mold can build up there and dust mites are attracted as well. Even when completely dry, allergens like pollen can accumulate in carpets, worsening your allergy symptoms as particles are released every time you step on your carpet.

 

If you are willing to invest in a true HEPA air purifier for the rooms in which you spend most of your time, this is a wonderful way to improve the air quality and reduce the presence of allergens.

 

People who know that they have mold in their homes — because they can see it or smell it — should take immediate action, as mold is one of the most common allergens. To find out what type of mold you are dealing with, and to what extent mold spores are present in your indoor air, consider having a professional mold inspection carried out. MI&T performs a thorough visual inspection of all the rooms in your home, and then follows that up by taking air samples. With a full mold inspection report, you will know precisely what types of mold are present in your home, and what kinds of threats they pose to your health. This information allows you to move forward with an effective mold remediation plan. Once that is complete, MI&T can return for clearance testing to tell you whether your mold remediation was a success.

 

 

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