When allergy symptoms strike, you may have to resort to medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy shots to ease symptoms like runny nose and sneezing. But, as with most other medical conditions, you can also take preventative steps so that an allergic reaction does not occur in the first place.
Since you spend a large part of your life at home, that’s where prevention should begin. Substances that trigger allergies are called allergens. The most common allergens in the home are pollens, dust mites, molds, and dander. Prevention involves taking steps to greatly reduce if not eliminate these allergens in the home. Here’s how you can proceed room by room to allergy-proof your entire home.
In the Whole House
- Control temperature and humidity. High heat and humidity can make your home a breeding ground for dust mites and mold. During winter months, maintain temperature between 20 and 21 deg Celsius and relative humidity between 40 and 50 percent. You may need to purchase a dehumidifier. Check humidity levels in your home to help you decide. During the hot weather dehumidification is easily accomplished with an air conditioner.
- Replace upholstered furniture with wood, leather, or vinyl pieces. Upholstery easily traps allergens and is much harder to clean. If this is not possible, you might want to try washable slipcovers on existing upholstered furniture.
- Choose hardwood floors instead of carpeting. If you must have carpeting, choose low-pile material.
- Choose washable cotton or synthetic fabric roll-up window shades over Venetian blinds, which tend to collect dust.
- In homes with forced air heat, use filters or damp cheesecloth over vents to reduce dust circulation and change them every two weeks.
- During hot weather use central air conditioning to avoid pollen exposure. On the days in spring and summer when you’re not using the AC, keep windows closed during early morning hours as grasses, weeds, and trees tend to pollinate during these hours. Sleep with windows closed.
- Don’t allow smoking anywhere inside your house.
- Maintain a weekly cleaning routine. Vacuum carpeting with a vacuum cleaner that has a small-particle or a HEPA filter. Damp-mop wood flooring and use a damp cloth to clean other surfaces to trap dust in the cloth.
- Change or clean heating and cooling system filters once a month.
- Keep pets outside. Animal dander is a common allergen for many people. So, if you have pets, consider keeping them outside the house. Bathe your pets often if you must keep them indoors.
- Keep plants outside. Don’t collect too many indoor plants as soil encourages mold growth.
In the bedroom
- Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-mite-proof covers.
- Wash sheets and pillowcases at least once a week in hot water. Wash blankets and comforters every fortnight.
- Keep beds away from air vents.
In the kitchen
- Use an exhaust fan over the stove to remove cooking fumes and reduce moisture.
- Wash dishes daily. Scrub the sink and faucets to remove mold.
- Wipe up excessive moisture in the refrigerator to avoid mold growth.
In the bathroom
- Use the exhaust fan to reduce moisture while taking baths or showers. This will prevent humidity levels from rising in the entire house.
- Remove carpeting and use wood flooring or ceramic tiles. Use washable rugs.
- Scrub mold from tub, toilet, sink, faucets, and shower curtains.
In the basement
- Avoid carpeting if possible. If that’s not an option, use low-pile carpeting and vacuum regularly.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce dankness, and clean it once a week.
- Remove laundry from the washing machine promptly. Don’t leave wet clothes in the washer where mold can grow quickly.
- Make sure that dryer hose has no leaks and is connected properly to the outside to prevent moisture release in the house.