How to Allergy Proof Your Home

Sneezing and sniffling indoors and out? Take these measures inside your home to reduce your exposure to allergens

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Sure, a good spring cleaning can help reduce the allergens in your home, but if you’re still suffering, here are some other ways to allergy-proof your home

While pollen is one of the leading causes of seasonal allergies, irritants inside the home may be just as much to blame. People with pollen allergies can develop sensitivities to other allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mould spores.

The first step in treating allergies is to avoid what you are allergic to. Here are some effective ways of reducing exposure to allergens inside your home.

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Minimize Exposure to Dust Mites

Dust mites are one of the most common causes of allergies in the home. They are microscopic bugs that feed off human skin, therefore found in great abundance where we live.

Dust mites live in mattresses, pillows, beddings and carpets. Some measures to minimize the problem of dust mites include:

  • Mattress Covers: Encase your mattress and pillows with specially made dust mite mattress covers. Air permeable covers are more comfortable for the mattress, while less expensive plastic or vinyl covers can be used for the box spring. Covers should be washed or wiped down weekly.
  • Regular Sheet Changes: Wash all bedding sheets and pillow cases in hot water weekly. Avoid feather pillows and down comforters. Purchase washable pillows, comforters and blankets and wash them in hot water once a month.
  • Clutter Reduction: Keep your bedroom free of clutter: books, upholstered furniture, fabric curtains, stuffed toys and boxes are dust collectors.
  • Stuffed Toy Cleaning: Stuffed toys should be washed in hot water or kept overnight in a freezer to reduce dust mite levels. Avoid giving kids with allergies stuffed toys, as these can collect dust.
  • Weekly House Cleaning: Hard surfaces and window blinds should be cleaned every week with a damp cloth. Vacuum rugs and carpets at least once a week. It is best to use a central vacuum that vents to a garage or outside. Vacuum cleaners with a HEPA filter may prove some benefit. Clean carpets, rugs and upholstery regularly. This will help to reduce the circulation of dust and dust mites in your home. If you can, remove carpets, rugs, and heavy curtains from your bedroom. Consider installing hardwood, cork, linoleum and tile on floors. Hard surface floors should be cleaned with a damp mop regularly.
  • Airborne Irritants: Avoid tobacco smoke, aerosols, paint, perfumes, cleaning products or other strong odors or fumes.
  • Air Filtration: Consider installing a Central Air Cleaner or Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) by Lifebreath. I have recently tested an air purifier called IQAir. It stops the smallest, most harmful particles in the air, all the way down to 0.003 microns – the smallest particles that exist. That includes viruses, pet dander, dust mites, air pollution and even cigarette smoke.
  • Air Duct Cleaning: If you have a pet you should have your ducts cleaned every 3 years, if you do not, every 5 years is sufficient.
  • Furnace Filter Replacement: Check and clean or replace your furnace filters with a good quality filter on a monthly basis. Check the M.E.R.V. rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value); the higher the MREV rating the more efficient the filter is at removing air particles. Installing an intake filter on the air supply reduces the entry of dust-laden air before it enters the ductwork and furnace by filtering and removing dust from the air stream. Be sure to clean these filters regularly.

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Control Humidity

Keep the humidity in your house below 50%; dust mites don’t like to live in a place with low humidity. Ideal humidity is 30% – 40%. Humidity is measured by a hygrometer which can be obtained from hardware stores.

  • Install Exhaust Fans: Put fans in your bathroom and kitchen that exhaust directly to the outside.
  • Use Your Bathroom Fan: Let your bathroom fan run for one hour or longer after you shower or bathe.
  • Use Your Kitchen Fan: Let your kitchen fan run for 20 minutes after cooking.
  • Caulk Leaks: Seal up air leaks with weatherstripping and caulking to improve winter humidity conditions and reduce your heating bill.

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Minimize Dust when Remodelling

Precautions should be taken during a home remodelling project to reduce allergens caused by dust particles spreading throughout the rest of the home:

  • Give Information: Inform the contractor about any allergies.
  • Use Sheeting: Seal off the area to be remodelled with plastic sheets; leave plastic sheeting up until cleanup from the job is complete.
  • Open Windows: In the room being remodelled, set up a fan to exhaust air toward the outside.
  • Close and Seal the Vents: Use polyethylene in the area being remodelled so that dust won’t travel though the air ducts.
  • Change Your Furnace Filter Often: It will pick up more particles than usual. Vacuum and sweep daily to prevent dust from spreading. Have heating ducts professionally cleaned after renovations as well as new home construction, as there is no way to prevent all the sawdust and other building materials from finding their way into vents.

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