Your home is your castle -- except when you’re allergic to it. A recent
nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at
least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust,
mold, and pet dander.
How can you allergy-proof your home to make it a refuge, not a source of
sneezes? Take a tour of your house from room to room, find out where the
allergens are lurking, and get relief from indoor allergies.
Here's a wild guess: When an allergy attack hits and leaves you sneezing and
itching, with teary eyes and a nose that is runny and stuffed, you probably
aren't much in the mood for romance.
It may sound obvious that drippy noses don't bring out the sex kitten in
people. But for the first time, a study has looked at the impact allergies have on our sex lives and found that many
people with chronic allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, often put the kibosh
on sex when symptoms are flaring.
“This is the most allergen-prone room in your house, because the most common
indoor allergen is dust mites,” says James Sublett, MD, an allergist in
The single most important thing you can do for dust mite allergies is to put
hypoallergenic casings on your beds, mattresses, box springs, and especially
the pillows. “They’re right in your face all the time, so they particularly
need allergy casings,” says Sublett.
You can also reduce the presence of dust mites in your beds by using only
washable bedding. Many people may pile their beds with fancy quilts,
throw pillows, and wool blankets that aren’t washed regularly.
“If you move them around at night when you’re getting ready for bed, you
stir up the particulate found in these linens,” says Sublett.
This applies to stuffed animals in children’s bedrooms as well. Instead of
piling stacks and stacks of cuddly toys on the bed, limit the furry friends to
one or two favorites that are washable. (Take a look at the label -- many
stuffed animals are marked “surface clean only.”) Your child’s linens and
stuffed animals should be washed in hot water at least once a week.
Remove carpets from the bedroom (and elsewhere in the house as well if you
can). A smooth-surfaced floor reduces the dust mite particles that accumulate
Keep pets out of the bedroom and most certainly off your bed. “Even if
you’re not actually allergic to the pet dander, they can bring allergens into
the bedroom and onto the bed on their fur,” notes Sublett.
The bedroom is also a good place for a HEPA air filter to clean bedroom air.
(This is not an “air purifier,” which is a different product and does nothing
Allergies in the Living Room, Family Room and Playroom
These rooms may not have quite the allergy-aggravating potential that the
bedroom does, but similar rules apply:
Keep carpeted surfaces to a minimum.
Choose smooth-surfaced furniture, like leather, vinyl, and ultrasuede over
heavily upholstered pieces.
Limit soft and plush toys, and wash them regularly.
In rooms with carpeting, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Vacuums with HEPA filters “reduce the amount of particles thrown up in the
air when you’re vacuuming,” says Sublett.
Also, it’s a good idea to wear an allergy face mask when you’re vacuuming.”
He recommends a mask rated at least N95 by the National Institute of
Occupational Safety and Health, which filters extremely small particles.