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Relief for Allergies at Home

Allergy-proof your home to eliminate stuffy sneezes.
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WebMD Feature

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.

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Allergies in the Bedroom

“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 Louisville, Ky.

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 in carpets.

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 for allergies).

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.

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