Monday, April 1, 2013

How to Allergy-Proof Your Home this Spring

Keep out seasonal pollens and other irritants with these household cleaning steps.

Feet on hardwood floor
Hardwood floors help reduce household allergens.

Spring is coming and with it come seasonal pollens. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, this time of year can be miserable. Allergens can also lurk in your home in the form of dust mite droppings, mold, pet dander, smoke and chemicals, leaving you with allergy symptoms year-round.

Fortunately, decreasing the amount of allergens in your home can lead to less severe allergies. Here's how to do it through household cleaning.

Weekly Cleaning Tasks

  • Vacuum your carpet and rugs and with a HEPA-filtered vacuum. HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are made from a fine mesh that filters tiny particles that can cause allergies. HEPA filters also can be very effective at clearing allergens out of indoor air.
  • Wash your bedding in hot water. This will kill dust mites and remove pet dander and pollen.
  • Dust surfaces, furniture and knickknacks with a damp cloth. Consider using a vacuum attachment for window blinds, upholstered furniture, the tops of shelved books and mattresses.

Monthly Cleaning Tasks

  • Check for mold growth in damp areas such as the bathroom. To clean mold off surfaces, use straight vinegar or a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Wash shower curtains and window coverings.

Other Considerations

  • Use natural cleaning products and fragrances. Conventional cleaners and fragrances can contain chemicals that may worsen asthma and allergy symptoms.
  • Purchase dust mite covers for pillows and mattresses.
  • Remove carpet and install hardwood floors.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom.
  • Change your furnace filter regularly.
  • Use the bathroom fan while showering to decrease humidity.
  • Use a dehumidifier in the basement.
  • Don't allow anyone to smoke inside your home.

By Lela Altman, ND, MS, LAc, naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

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