Leaving Your Windows Open
There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly cut grass wafting through your windows in the springtime or the scent of crisp autumn air. But if you have allergies, that’s a no-no.
Keep your windows closed, especially during high-allergy times. You’ll prevent pollen, smoke, mold, smog, and other irritants from infiltrating your home.
“Once allergens find their way into your home, they land on surfaces where you can’t see them, and it’s really difficult to remove them,” Ogden says. During the warmer months, this means that you may have to run your air conditioning more often.
Be sure to replace filters in your central heating or cooling system at least once a month so they can continue to suck more of the bad stuff out of your air.
While regularly vacuuming your home is essential for removing sneeze-inducing particles, the type of machine that you use matters. Look for one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
“The filter is extremely effective at suctioning smaller particles out of the air,” Ogden says. “With other types of vacuums, you’re just circulating the allergens into the air and inhaling it, which can worsen symptoms.”
Aim to vacuum weekly to keep dust, dirt, droppings, and other particles from piling up.
Cleaning Without Protection
“Wear gloves and a mask every time, even if you’re just wiping down the counters at the end of the day,” Ogden says. “Whenever you see a microfilm on a surface, there can be dust mites and other allergens gathering there that can trigger a reaction.”
The chemicals and fragrances in cleaners may also irritate your nose and lungs, so wearing a mask and gloves will help with that, too. If you still have symptoms when you clean, consider using a white vinegar and water mixture. It’s less harsh and so is less likely to cause irritation, Ogden says.
You’re Overdue to Change Your Sheets
“Your bed is a breeding ground for dust mites because they love warm, dark areas,” Ogden says. Plus, they feed off of skin cells that live on your sheets.
Fight back: Wash your bedding at least weekly using hot water and a high-heat cycle in the dryer to remove dust mite residue. Ideally, remove extra throw pillows and stuffed animals from your bed to minimize the surfaces on which dust mites can thrive, Ogden says.
Her other tips to keep your bedding allergy-free:
- Look for 100% cotton sheets, which are less irritating to the skin than other fabrics.
- Use allergy-proof covers on your mattress and pillow covers.
- Replace your pillow every 6 months to a year.