Most people relate allergies to the outdoors. However, some of the most damaging allergens come from inside of your home. If you’re suffering from respiratory issues, the first place to get the situation under control is in your living space. Although it’s a significant undertaking, managing the dust and allergens in your home is possible.
What Causes Home Allergens?
There are several factors that contribute to indoor allergens, and some of them might surprise you. Here are a few of the culprits (1):
Dust mites are one of the most common causes of indoor allergens. They generally grow in warm atmospheres such as carpets, bedding, and furniture. Since you spend lots of time in the bedroom, it’s a good idea to use allergen-proof fabric covers on pillows box springs and mattresses. Doing so helps to keep dust mites at bay.
Pet dander plays a significant role in contributing to allergies and asthma. One of the most effective things you can do is keep your dogs and cats away from your bedroom and other areas where you spend a lot of time.
Also, you need to make sure you’re vacuuming carpets and cleaning hardwood floors regularly. If you’re unsure if you’re allergic to pets, consult with an allergist first.
Mold is generally found in areas that are damp such as bathrooms, basements, and other wet places. It’s a good idea to keep humid areas ventilated to reduce mold growth. Also, be sure to clean and repair roof and pipe leaks.
Homes, schools, and buildings are places where cockroaches are typically found. If you find them crawling around your house, that doesn't necessarily mean your home is filthy.
However, they lurk in damp areas and can enter your house through crevices and cracks. To reduce the chances of cockroaches, take out the trash regularly, keep your kitchen clean, and sweep under the stove and refrigerator.
A Combination Of Particles
Dust is a collection of many particles.
Unfortunately, dust can wreak havoc on your allergies and asthma. Thankfully, there are several ways to minimize dust in your home.
Physical Signs Of Allergens
Indoor allergies can be mild or severe, depending on how badly your home is exposed to allergens and the sensitivity of the person. Allergies are triggered when your immune system reacts to pet dander, pollen, and dust mites (2).
Luckily, your body shields against foreign elements by creating antibodies that fight against infection. When allergens enter the immune system, it responds by triggering an inflammatory defense within the lungs and nasal passages.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Unfortunately, long periods of exposure to dust mites and various allergens can lead to other serious conditions such as sinus infections and asthma. Not to mention, if you already have these issues, the dust in the air can further irritate the complications.
How To Reduce Indoor Allergens
Now that you know more about indoor allergens, it’s important to take the necessary steps to reduce them. Here are a few suggestions (3).
Replace Your Bedding
As we discussed before, allergens like dust mites love mattresses, pillows, and other furniture. But, in addition to buying allergen-proof covers, you must wash your pillowcases and sheets in hot water once a week to ward off dust mites.
Minimize Pet Dander
As previously stated, pet dander is a big culprit of indoor allergies, so it has to be thoroughly monitored. Unfortunately, pet allergens are present in saliva and dander, and no breed of cats or dogs is allergy-free.
However, bathing your pets once per week can minimize dander, and washing your hands after petting them also reduces allergy flare-ups. And again, keep furry friends out of your bedroom and other areas where you spend lots of time, and vacuum the carpet often.
Change Out Furnace Filters
Allergens hide out in air ducts, and it’s a good idea to use high-efficiency furnace filters to minimize the number of indoor allergens floating throughout your home. Make a habit of switching out the air filters every 90 days when the seasons change.
Keep An Eye On Humidity Levels
During cold months, the air gets dry and some people like using humidifiers to add moisture into the air. However, if you don’t pay attention to the extra humidity, the additional moisture could help mold and dust mites grow and thrive. However, by using a humidity monitor in your home, you can track it.
Clean Your Home Regularly
Vacuuming is essential to reducing indoor allergens, but it should be done properly if you want it to be effective. Therefore, you should vacuum with a HEPA filter once per week and regularly wash area rugs. If possible, try not to have wall-to-wall carpeting in your home, especially not in the bedrooms.
Not only does your indoor environment trigger your allergies--the outdoors can as well. Unfortunately, there are some areas of the U.S. that are more harsh on allergy symptoms than others.
While there’s not as much to do in terms of combatting outdoor allergies (some areas are just breeding grounds for pollen and allergens), there’s plenty you can do for your allergy woes at home! Since we all track things into our homes from outside, it’s all the more important to take care of your home to reduce bringing outside allergens indoors with you.
When you think of dusting, a traditional feather duster might come to mind. But as you should know by now, those aren’t effective in minimizing the dust in the air. Sure, it can make the items in your home look new again, but the particles are brushed off and whisked into the air. Follow these steps if you want to dust the correct way:
Use A MicroFiber
When it comes to properly dusting, you need something that particles and allergens will adhere to, and microfiber is the way to go. Nowadays, there are different options, so you can use a microfiber towel, brush, or duster—whatever suits you best.
Honestly, you will feel better knowing that you’re grabbing the dust and not just pushing it from one place to the next. Plus, if you use microfiber towels, they can be tossed into the washing machine.
Believe it or not, dryer sheets are another good tool to use to combat dust. They easily attract dirt, and they work wonderfully on baseboards. Dryer sheets are a great alternative when there's no microfiber available
Don’t Make Your Bed As Soon As You Wake
Yes. You read the above statement correctly. For many years, people have been taught to make their beds—and for those who like being disciplined—that’s the first thing they do. However, allowing your sheets time to air out keep dust mites at bay.
Remember, they like warm, closed in areas, and when you’re sleeping, your body heat, sweat, and skin cells provide the perfect atmosphere for them. You don’t want to toss your covers on top of a breeding ground. So, fix your coffee and breakfast first, then make the bed.
Instead of only wiping the dust off of the items in your home, go the extra mile and add a little wax. By doing so, it’ll help to preserve your appliances and keep them free of dust for longer.
Use A Pillow Case On Your Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are one of the places where dust is bound to settle. Unfortunately, fan blades are difficult to clean, and it makes a bigger mess when wiping it off—but there’s a solution. Slide pillowcase over the blade and allow the dust to fall inside. By doing so, it prevents particles from falling on the floor and spreading through the air.
The Proper Cleaning Supplies
When you go to buy cleaning products, you probably don’t twice about the chemicals in the formula. However, if you have severe allergies or breathing issues, it’s worth looking into. Thankfully, there are precautionary measures you can take to reduce toxins in your home as well.
What NOT To Buy
Stay away from products that state “danger” or “poison” and pay attention to warning labels that say “may cause burns” or “corrosive”. Those are all signs that you’re dealing with an extremely toxic chemical.
Also, avoid cleaning solutions that have ammonia or chlorine listed as the main ingredient because they can cause respiratory and skin irritation.
Most people love the smell of a fresh home after cleaning, and there are a ton of scent options available in cleaning products. Unfortunately, formulas with added fragrances can cause sneezing, watery eyes, and respiratory irritation, and further aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.
Use Green Products
These days there are tons of green and organic cleaning products available. Although they tend to be more expensive, they are worth the extra funds if they don’t create a toxic environment. However, there are certain things you must look for because not all “green” products are safe to use.
Even if something is labeled as organic, it can still contain chemicals that are carbon-based and release harmful fumes into the air. Therefore, look for products that state the ingredients are “solvent-free”, “no phosphates”, or “non-petroleum based”.
Go The All-Natural Route
If reading labels isn’t your thing, there’s always the option to use real organic cleaning products. Luckily, mother nature has already provided us with cleaning formulas that can sanitize our home without harming our bodies. Products like lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar are all effective in cleaning household dirt and grime. Not to mention, they’re inexpensive as well.