Due to social distancing efforts, we are all spending much more time at home these days than usual. For people that suffer from allergies, this means increased exposure to allergens that exist in your home. Many people are aware of outdoor allergens like pollen and mold, but many more can exist inside your own home, and make symptoms miserable for you. If you are experiencing symptoms like regular sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, or shortness of breath, you may very well have a pesky allergen in your home that you need to remove.
What Are Indoor Allergens?
Common indoor allergens include dust mites, pet dander and mold. Unfortunately even if you are a clean freak, you might be making the situation worse for yourself. Symptoms often worsen for people immediately following cleaning such as dusting sweeping or vacuuming. Why? The process of these cleanings will stir up dust particles, making them much easier to inhale and trigger symptoms.
So What Can You Do?
Fortunately there are several steps you can take to limit your exposure to these indoor allergens. Here are a few of our suggestions based on rooms in your home:
Your bedroom is the most important place to be allergen-free – a majority of people spend between 6 to 12 hours in their bedroom sleeping. If you have pets, you may want to consider keeping them off of your bed, and even out of the room altogether. Besides cleaning your room frequently, there are areas to pay special attention to.
All bedding, pillows, mattresses and box springs, should be encased in dust-mite-proof covers. Wash your sheets and pillow cases frequently in hot water to adequately clean them. If you have wool or feather bedding, replace them with synthetic material bedding instead. It’s best to remove all carpeting if possible and use hardwood or linoleum floors with washable area rugs. If this isn’t an option, be sure to vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter weekly. All curtains and blinds should be washed as much as possible.
The living room is where most people spend a majority of their time at home outside of the bedroom. As with the bedroom, try to use hardwood flooring with rugs instead of carpeting. For furniture, consider replacing upholstered sofas and chairs with furniture made by plastic, leather or wood. Be sure to clean your windows of mold and condensation, and use double-paned windows if you live in an area with a cold climate. Finally, if you have a fireplace, avoid burning wood in a fireplace or stove because the smoke and gasses they create can worsen your respiratory allergies. Use a natural gas fireplace instead, as they don’t cause allergy issues.
Just like the kitchen, mold can easily accumulate in bathrooms due to high-moisture. Ventilation is key. If you haven’t already, install and use an exhaust fan to expel as much moisture as possible while the bath or shower is being used. Wash rugs and towels as often as possible. To avoid mold growth, towel-dry the shower or tub after every use. Bleach the tub and sink and faucet frequently to stay ahead of potential mold. It’s important to stay on top of cleaning in your bathroom.
Basements are an easy target for indoor allergens. Definitely clean carpeting as frequently as you can, and replace with hardwood flooring if possible. Check for any sources of leaks or water damage from outside sources, and repair when necessary. If you do laundry in the basement, be sure to vent all moisture outside. Many people store unused household items down there – it’s necessary to store them in sealed, plastic storage bins. Finally, use a dehumidifier to reduce dampness. Most dehumidifiers should be cleaned once a week.
Follow these tips to try and keep your home as allergen-free as possible during these shelter-in-place weeks. For any additional questions, or to schedule an appointment, call our office or book online.