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.
Protect mattresses and pillows. Encase them in allergy-proof covers, and don’t forget the box spring. These aren’t the old plastic covers that crinkle every time you roll over. New ones are made of tightly woven, breathable fabric that’s much more comfortable. The “pore size” should be 10 microns or smaller.
Remove dust mite hangouts. If you can, choose wooden blinds instead of drapes. Consider hardwood floors instead of wall-to-wall carpeting or rugs, which can trap allergens.
Don’t clean the bedroom in the evening. It can take 2 hours or more for the dust to settle after a clean-up gets it moving. Do the housework earlier so you don’t kick off an allergy attack just as you’re trying to get to sleep.
Keep pets out of the bedroom. You love them, but the dander in their fur can set off your symptoms. Plus, they can track in mold and pollen from outside.
Get rid of fluff. Clear the bedroom of extra pillows, linens, stuffed animal collections, and dust-collecting knickknacks. If you have a fluffy favorite you can’t get rid of, put it in the freezer overnight to kill dust mites.
Check the humidity. If it creates the kind of spot that dust mites love, it’s time to dry things up. You can check a room’s humidity with a gadget called a hygrometer. You’ll find them at home supply stores. Keep levels below 50% to hold off allergens. If the air is too dry, try a humidifier. Clean the filter often, or you’ll spread bacteria or fungal spores around the room. That can trigger allergies, too.
Filter your air. Use high-efficiency air filters on your AC and heating units. They're rated on what's called the MERV scale. You want something that’s a MERV 11 or 12. Change the filter every 3 months.
Vacuum at least once a week. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and pay special attention to the bedroom.