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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

6 Ways to Get Rid of Common Allergens in the Home

Written by Posted On Thursday, 16 May 2019 10:45

Allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold and pest droppings affect more than 50 million Americans and are one of the leading causes of chronic illness. A lot of these allergens exist right in your own home, drifting through the air and settling on every surface. While it’s impossible to eliminate all indoor allergy causes, there are steps you can take to reduce how much you’re exposed to.

1. Wash Your Linens

Dust mites are microscopic relatives of the spider, able to live in fabrics around your home such as drapes, rugs and upholstered furniture. The bedroom is a particular hot zone, as we spend so much time tucked between sheets, pillows and blankets, all materials which can be home to dust mites. To reduce allergens around the home, wash your linens once a week using detergent and very hot water. For materials that can’t be thrown in the washer, use non-toxic cleaners and invest in allergen-proof covers.

2. Cut Out Dander

10 percent of people are allergic to household pets, with more people being allergic to cats than dogs. But it’s a common misconception that pet allergies are due to fur. In reality, the culprit is shedding skin cells which get into the air. If you have pets and want to reduce dander in your home, bath and brush them regularly. Keep pets out of bedrooms during the day to prevent buildup on pillows and blankets. You should also cover vents with cheesecloth to trap dander before it gets in the air.

3. Clean Your Carpeting

Your carpet may look clean and fresh, but it's also a source of dust, pet dander, pollen and more. To get rid of common allergens, vacuum your carpets once or twice a week, ideally using a high-efficiency air filter. Place floor mats at entrances for people to wipe their feet and keep as much grime out of the carpeting as possible. If you’re planning a remodel, consider investing in flooring which prevents dirt build-up, such as hardwood, linoleum or low-pile carpet.

4. Inspect Your HVAC

Your HVAC system is responsible for circulating air through your home. But if your system is outdated, dirty or moldy, it can turn your home’s air into an allergen palooza, making common allergy symptoms more severe. Before turning on the air conditioning, schedule an HVAC maintenance appointment to ensure your home’s ventilation is free of irritants. You should also change out filters regularly, as dust and debris will collect over time and blow back into the air. If your system is outdated and worn, consider replacing it with a more recent model.

5. Avoid Mold Growth

Mold can spring up quick, polluting the air with irritants which cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, dry skin and more. To prevent allergies from mold, reduce moisture in rooms where you use water, such as the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. Invest in a dehumidifier or use a humidity monitor to watch moisture levels. You should also seek out any drips or leaks which cause chronic dampness. If you find mold, be sure to wear a mask and clean the area immediately.

6. Use a Filter

Air pollution can be found right in your home, causing health problems like allergies and asthma. But a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can trap these pollutants and prevent you from breathing them in. These air filters are mechanical, forcing air through a fine mesh which captures particles like pet dander, pollen, dust mites and tobacco smoke. Then the air is filtered back into your home, ensuring what you breathe is clean and allergen-free. As a bonus, HEPA filters can be installed right into your existing air conditioner or HVAC system.

Getting Rid of Common Allergens

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary. So don’t subject yourself to allergens like dust, pet dander smoke and more, which can cause annoying symptoms like watering eyes and an itchy, sore throat. Follow the steps above to locate, clean and prevent allergens from building up in your home.

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Holly Welles

Holly Welles is a real estate writer with her thumb on the pulse of industry trends. She runs her own residential real estate blog, The Estate Update, where she shares advice for renters and homeowners alike.
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