10 Ways to Reduce Indoor Allergens
Indoor allergens affect millions of Americans each year. While a home air purifier can help limit your exposure to most indoor allergens, purifiers can be costly. Whether your symptoms are caused by dust mites, dander or mold, here are 10 ways you can reduce indoor allergens in your home.
Wash Your Bedding Weekly
Dust mites are common indoor allergens for many. And they can be found throughout your home. However, they thrive in warm, humid environments such as bedding. Encase mattresses, box springs and pillows in special allergen-proof fabric covers. Also, wash your bedding weekly in hot water. While the sheets are in the wash, dust the bedroom thoroughly.
Keep Humidity Low
Dehumidifiers can also work to cut down on dust mite allergens, along with mold and mildew. Signs your home is too humid and could benefit from a dehumidifier include: wet stains on walls and/or ceilings, rotting wood, condensation on windows and musty smells. And small, portable dehumidifiers can cost less than $200. A built-in system can run up to $2,000.
Cockroaches thrive in densely populated areas. Finding a cockroach in your home does not mean you have a dirty living area since cockroaches lurk almost anywhere. The saliva and feces of cockroaches can trigger allergy and asthma systems since these indoor allergens act like dust mites. Block crevices, wall cracks and window openings where cockroaches can enter the home. In addition, use lidded garbage containers in the kitchen and take out trash and recyclables often. And wash dishes immediately after use and keep areas under refrigerators, stoves and toasters clean from food debris. Also, regularly wipe down kitchen cupboards and pantries where food is kept.
Clean Up Mold and Mildew Buildups
Indoor molds and mildew can be found in damp areas of the home such as basements and bathrooms. To get rid of mold growth on hard surfaces, use a mix of water, detergent and 5 percent bleach. Then dry the area completely. If the mold buildup covers a large area, consider hiring a professional.
Dry Out the Basement
Dehumidifiers can help in wet basements to cut down on molds and indoor allergens, but they must be emptied and cleaned regularly. Repair and seal any leaking basement pipes. And seal cracks around the foundation and windows to prevent water from getting in. Also, avoid carpeting on concrete basement floors and be sure to store items in areas away from potential water leaks.
Check the Windows
Mold and indoor allergens can form on windows and window sills when condensation forms. Wipe down window areas regularly and consider using double-paned windows if you live in a cold climate. Use washable curtains made from cotton or a synthetic fabric. And use washable roller-style shades instead of horizontal blinds which are known to trap dust.
Fight Dry Air and Indoor Allergens
While some may benefit from a dehumidifier to dry out their home, some may find relief in humidifiers, especially during the winter months. Your home’s heating system can dry out your indoor air and lead to dry and irritated sinus passages, itchy skin, scratchy throats and aggravated respiratory problems. The Environmental Protection Agency says a comfortable humidity level of 45-50 percent is ideal. And there are a variety of humidifiers available depending on moisture output and room size.
Keep Floors Clean
While removing carpeting and replacing it with hardwood, tile or linoleum is ideal, this isn’t always possible. And when it comes to carpeting, low-pile is the best option. Be sure to vacuum at least once a week with a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Shampoo the carpet frequently and wash area rugs and floor mats weekly to get rid of those indoor allergens.
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Wipe Down Furniture
Furniture that is easy-to-clean, such as pieces made from wood, metal, leather and plastic are best. Upholstered furniture can not only serve as an ideal environment for dust mites, but also for mold and indoor allergens depending on the room’s humidity level. And wipe off all furniture weekly after vacuuming.
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Cut the Clutter
Avoid displaying items that easily collect dust, such as tabletop knickknacks, books and magazines and framed photos. And keep toys and stuffed animals in plastic bins. If you have houseplants, spread aquarium gravel over the dirt to contain mold and other indoor allergens.