12 Ways to Reduce Allergens in Your Home

by Michael Franco
dander and mold

Allergies can make life uncomfortable, causing sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and other symptoms that can interfere with your day-to-day activities. Many people think that allergies are only caused by outdoor allergens, such as pollen, but they can also be caused by indoor allergens, like pet dander, dust mites and mold.

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If you or a family member suffer from allergies, reducing the amount of allergens in your home can help alleviate symptoms. Here are some tips on how to reduce allergens in your home:

1. Keep Your Home Clean

Keeping your home clean is the first step in reducing allergens. Dust, vacuum and sweep your home regularly to reduce the amount of dust and pet dander in your home. When you dust, use a damp cloth or microfiber cloth to trap the dust, rather than spreading it around. Vacuum carpets and rugs at least once a week with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help remove even the smallest allergens from carpets and upholstery. A regular vacuum cleaner can stir up dust and allergens, causing them to circulate in the air. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter traps the allergens and prevents them from being released back into the air.

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2. Wash Bedding Regularly

Wash bedding and pillowcases in hot water every week to kill dust mites and remove allergens. You can also encase your pillows and mattress in allergy-proof covers to prevent dust mites from settling in.

3. Reduce Humidity

High humidity can cause mold to grow in your home, which can cause allergic reactions. Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level below 50%, especially in humid areas like the basement and bathroom.

That being said, if you find that your airways are constantly dry, it might be because the air in your home is as well. In such a case, you could consider using a humidifier, but keep to the same guideline: You never want the humidity levels to climb higher than 50%. You'll also want to be sure to keep your humidifier (and your dehumidifier) as clean as possible and do regular descalings of the machines.

4. Keep Pets Away from Your Bed and Other Furniture

Pets produce dander, saliva and urine, which can trigger allergic reactions. If your pets go outside during allergy season, they can also get covered in pollen, which they'll then bring back into the house. That's why it's best to keep pets out of your bedroom, off your bed, and off other pieces of furniture to reduce your exposure to allergens. Also, make sure to groom your pets regularly and wash their bedding to reduce the amount of pet dander in your home.

5. Use Air Purifiers

Air purifiers can help to remove allergens from your home by filtering the air. Look for an air purifier with a HEPA filter, which can trap small particles like pollen, dust mites and pet dander. Place the air purifier in the room where you spend the most time, such as your bedroom or living room. Closing the door to a room in which you have an air purifier running can further help reduce allergens in these spaces.

6. Use Natural Cleaning Products

Certain cleaning products can also trigger allergies. Switch to ingredients you can find in your pantry, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice, which are just as effective as chemical cleaners. Natural cleaning products are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and they are also better for the environment. The same holds true for your laundry detergent. Cleaners comprised of primarily natural elements tend to cause fewer issues with allergies.

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7. Remove Carpeting

Carpeting can trap allergens like dust mites and pet dander. If possible, remove carpeting and replace it with hardwood, tile or laminate flooring. If you can't replace your carpet, vacuum it regularly with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.

8. Change Your Air Filters Regularly

The filters in your HVAC system can trap dust, pollen and other allergens that circulate in your home's air. Change your air filters regularly, at least every three months, to ensure that your air filter is doing its job properly. Look for filters with higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings to trap the highest quantity of allergens — although most homeowners will be fine with MERV ratings no higher than 12.

You'll also want to check on your portable air filters regularly and change them according to the manufacturer's directions. If you have a machine with a washable filter, it's best to give it a rinse once a week.

9. Keep Your Home Smoke-Free

Smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes can trigger allergies and other respiratory problems. If you or someone in your household smokes, it's best that they do it outside if they can't quit altogether.

10. Consider a Professional Air Duct Cleaning

HVAC air ducts can accumulate allergens like dust, mold and pet dander. Consider hiring a professional air duct cleaning service to clean your air ducts and remove these allergens from your home.

11. Get the Right Kind of Furniture

Certain types of furniture can trap allergens, such as upholstered furniture and curtains. While it could be a costly step to take, consider replacing these with furniture made of materials like leather, wood or metal, which are easier to clean and less likely to trap allergens. You can also choose curtains and blinds made of synthetic materials that are easy to clean and don't trap dust. And while we're on the topic ... You should clean curtains and blinds at least twice a year to eliminate allergens like dust mites.

12. Keep Windows Closed

Opening windows can let in outdoor allergens like pollen and mold spores. Keep windows closed, especially during high pollen season or on days with high humidity.

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