Allergies: Filtering Out Pollen

Let fresh air in, keep dust and pollen out

For allergy sufferers, open windows bring fresh air but also pollen and dust. A window filter lets you keep the fresh air while blocking the misery-causing pollen.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Installing a window filter

Window screens for double-hung windows that filter out pollen and dust are available from several online suppliers (search for “window air filter screen”). These filter can keep out almost all dust and ragweed pollen. The drawback is that unlike a conventional insect screen, they won’t let breezes blow through the open window.

To install the screen, just open the window and put it in the opening as shown. You can buy the screens online or at some home centers. The filters are replaceable.

You can leave the screen in year round, but you’ll only need it when pollen is aggravating your allergies. Pollinating grasses, such as orchard and Bermuda, grow in the late spring and early summer. Ragweed, which causes most “hay fever,” is prevalent in the late summer and fall.

If pollen is still a problem, put an air cleaner (also called an air purifier) in your bedroom. The units work by circulating air and filtering out airborne particles such as pollens. Choose a unit that’s made to clean a bedroom of your size or a larger room. Be aware that while some air cleaners have tested well at filtering out pollens, others have not. Research air cleaners in consumer magazines before buying one.

Other strategies for reducing pollen:

  • Upgrade your furnace filter to a high-quality disposable filter made of pleated fabric or paper. Or have a professional install an electrostatic filter that’s connected to your ductwork ($700 to $1,500).
  • Change your bedding weekly.
  • Replace carpet with wood, laminate, tile or vinyl. Carpet is the biggest reservoir of dust. Also vacuum area rugs weekly.
  • Take couch cushions outside and beat out the dust with a tennis racket. Or better yet, when it comes time for furniture replacement, choose leather or vinyl upholstery rather than fabric.

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Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Window air filter