Monday, February 28, 2011

Six Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, running nose, itchy eyes, rashes and headaches.

Picture of wood floors
Wood floors

Sounds like a new rendition of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the beginning of an anti-histamine commercial or your allergy symptoms if you are one of the many unfortunate souls plagued by allergies.

One way to reduce allergic symptoms is to clean up your home by starting with the following six simple strategies:

  • Take off your shoes at the door. Following this rule helps to reduce tracked-in dust and allergens.
  • Floor care. If possible, replace carpet with hardwood floors. If you have carpet, shampoo it periodically and vacuum it weekly.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in hypoallergenic covers. Linens should be washed weekly in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Use natural cleaners in your home. Baking soda and vinegar works great for countertops, showers and toilets, while vinegar and water will remove greasy films in the kitchen and clean mirrors or windows.
  • Buy an air filter for your room. HEPA filters theoretically remove at least 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles. Be sure to maintain periodic cleaning and replace filters.
  • Maintain a mold-free home. Relative humidity should be maintained at levels below 50 percent to prevent mold growth. This may require the use of a dehumidifier. If you have mold in your home, in addition to cleaning it up, you must rectify the underlying cause of water accumulation. Water-damaged areas should be dried within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.  

Additional resources:

  • The Master Home Environmentalist Program at the American Lung Association in Washington will do a free home assessment to promote lung health and increase awareness of home environmental pollutants. For more information, call  (206) 441-5100 or (800) LUNG-USA.
  • Visit your local naturopath to find additional ways to decrease allergic symptoms through lifestyle modifications, nutrition, nutritional supplements and herbal medicine.

- Marisa Pellegrini, ND, is a naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. Call 206-834-4100 to schedule an appointment.

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