Shoes on rubber welcome mat at front door
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Put Out the Welcome Mat

Many allergy triggers, like pollen, move into your home on your shoes. Ask your friends and family to wipe them before they come inside. Choose a rubber mat that's easy to clean. Better yet, ask visitors to leave their shoes at the door.

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HEPA Air Filter Composite
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Clean the Air With a HEPA Filter

It can capture 99% of the tiny particles that trigger your allergies. It works best for removing pet dander and pollen, but not as well for dust mites. Look for units tested by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers that list the clean air delivery rate (CADR). Make sure the number is at least two-thirds of the room's square feet.

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Air filter with dust particles above
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Upgrade Your Furnace Filter

Try pleated paper filters with a MERV (efficiency) rating of 7 to 13. They can be almost as effective as a HEPA filter. Or go for an electrostatic one that uses charged fibers to trap allergens. Change filters every 3 months to keep your furnace working well. A more expensive option is a whole-house HEPA or electrostatic filter unit that's added to your heating and air-conditioning system.

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Electronic air cleaner in room near crib
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Electronic Air Cleaners

These machines don't use filters or fans. Instead, they change the electric charge on polluting particles. Some of these products, though, release ozone, which can sometimes make your allergies worse. 

You can move them from room to room, put one on your furnace, or mount it on your ceiling.

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Neti pot sitting on bathroom sink
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Use a Neti Pot

You can ease your allergy symptoms if you clean out the passageways of your nose. Fill the pot with lukewarm salt water made with sterile or distilled water. Or use boiled tap water after it cools down. Tilt your head over the sink, then pour the liquid into one nostril and let it drain out of the other. You can also use a bulb syringe or rinse bottle.

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Allergy capsule held between finger and thumb
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OTC Allergy Medications

They come in pills, eye drops, and nasal sprays. Antihistamine pills give you relief from sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. Decongestants work for a stuffy nose. Try antihistamine drops if your eyes are itchy.

Allergy nasal sprays prevent sneezing and runny nose. Decongestant nasal sprays aren't the same thing. If you use them for more than 3 days, they can make your stuffiness worse.

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Steam coming from tabletop humidifier
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Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

Dust mites -- tiny creatures that live in your bed, sofa, and carpet -- can trigger your allergies. They thrive in warm, moist air, so you can fight back if you keep your indoor humidity low. But too-dry air can irritate your nose and make your symptoms worse. Strike a balance by making the humidity in your home between 30% and 50%. You can monitor it with a device called a hygrometer.

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A pillow and white feathers
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Remake Your Bed

You can avoid some allergy attacks if you keep dust mites out of your mattresses and pillows. Choose pillows and comforters filled with man-made material that's less likely to trigger symptoms, instead of mite-friendly feathers. And cut back on throw pillows.

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Couple putting allergen-proof cover on mattress
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Cover Up

Surround your pillows, mattress, and box springs with allergen-proof covers. Prices can range from $20-$150, depending on your bed size.

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microfiber weaving with dust, magnified 5x
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Upgrade Your Dust Cloth

Trade in your old one, which stirs up allergy-causing particles while you dust, for a microfiber cloth. Unlike a cotton towel or an old T-shirt, it has fibers with an electrostatic charge that attracts and traps dust. It's OK to put it in the washing machine. You can get microfiber mitts for hard to reach or delicate items, and special wipes for electronics.

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Woman wearing dust mask, portrait, close-up
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Wear a Mask and Gloves

Housework and yard work stir up a lot of allergy triggers, from dust and pet dander to pollen and leaf mold. Keep problems away with an inexpensive safety mask. Use gloves when you work outside, or indoors when you handle household cleaners.

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Vacuum brush after cleaning
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Use a HEPA Vacuum

Vacuuming once a week can help allergy-proof your home, but standard machines can stir dust and allergy triggers into the air. Instead, you can trap them if you use a vacuum with a replaceable HEPA filter or a double bag.

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Professional steam cleaning upholstery
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Steam Cleaning

It helps get rid of dust mites in carpets and upholstered furniture. You can rent a steamer at a grocery or home improvement store, or buy your own. Some manufacturers offer cleaning solutions that are specially made to control allergy triggers. Vacuum after you steam clean to get rid of dead mites.

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Mold on bathroom shower tile
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Wipe Out Mold

It loves warm, wet places like the kitchen and bathroom. To get rid of it, you have to clean, disinfect, and dry. Scrub away with soap, water, and a stiff brush. Disinfect with a mold-killing product that has 5% chlorine bleach, or use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Check for leaks, and use an exhaust fan to keep it from coming back.

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Golden retriever and tabby cat on sofa
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Pet Beds and Shampoos

You can scale back your symptoms if you keep your contact with pet dander to a minimum. Use a mild shampoo to wash your animal often. If your cat doesn't like baths, at least wipe his fur with a damp washcloth. You can also buy pet wipes. Use plastic beds that can be wiped down, or wash the bedding in hot water at least once a week.

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Teddy Bear in Washing Machine
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Buy Washable Toys

Stuffed toys collect dander and dust mites as well as dirt. Check the labels when you buy them to make sure it's OK to wash them. Toss them in the washing machine with hot water every week. Store them on shelves or in a hanging net, but not on the bed. Wipe down plastic or wooden toys with a damp cloth.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/31/2016 Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on March 31, 2016

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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(16)  © B.M.W. / zefa / Corbis
 

SOURCES:

Air Conditioning Contractors of America web site.

American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology web site.

ASHRAE web site.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Pet Allergies."

Clear Air Delivery Rate: "What is AHAM's Clean Air Delivery Rate?"

Paul Enright, MD, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; professor, University of Arizona College of Public Health.

EPA: "An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality," "Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home," "Residential Air Cleaners (Second Edition): A Summary of Available Information."

North Dakota State University: "Remove Mold for a Healthy Home."

Togias, A. Journal of Clinical Investigation, October 1985.

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on March 31, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.