Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, you’ve probably heard of ‘home fever’. Most households harbor various types of allergens, which can have an ill effect on your health if you’re exposed to them for too long. As always, prevention is the best cure, so here’s how to stay on top of them.
Contrary to popular belief, most pet allergies aren’t triggered by hair, but by dead skin flakes (dander) and pet saliva. Of course, having a pet that sheds everywhere won’t help, but there are several ways you can limit your exposure to such allergens.
The easiest way to reduce the amount of pet dander and hair is to regularly vacuum your home. During shedding seasons, give your pet a good brushing, to remove as much dead hair as you can. Regular baths using special pet shampoo also help, as does washing their blankets or pet beds. Ideally, pets should not be allowed in the bedroom, and they should also have their own designated sleeping spot.
If your home is particularly damp, you might notice mold spots on the walls or tiles. Mold spores can affect you even if you’re not allergic to them, resulting in chronic coughing and sneezing, persistent headaches, fatigue, irritations to the eyes and nose, and even rashes.
To limit the presence of mold spores in your home, you must first deal with the humidity. Check for leaks and cracks that allow moisture to enter your home and fix any leaky plumbing. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner, and ensure that your home is well ventilated, especially in the bathroom, attic and basement. Mold can be easy to get rid of with the right approach.
Dust allergies are caused by dust mites that thrive in warm, moist environments. Having a fully dust-proof house borders on the impossible — after all, around half the dust in a home is composed of dead human skin. Yet there are ways to limit its spread.
Regular vacuuming will reduce the amount of dust in your home. In the bedroom, wash your linens and covers every week and consider replacing your mattress once every 10 years. Down-filled pillows and duvets are a great breeding ground for dust mites, so switch to allergen-proof ones, and replace them every 5 years. If you have thick curtains and drapes, they will also need regular washing.
Pollen allergies can be the bane of your existence in spring. Yet pollen can also find its way into your house, especially if you have a garden.
The easiest way to reduce the amount of pollen in your home is to keep windows and doors shut, and invest in an air purifier. After being outside, leave your shoes and coat by the door, and give them a good shake.
If you have a garden, avoid planting male trees, especially those that produce large quantities of pollen, such as maples, oak and birch. Even grasses are culprits in this scenario, especially Kentucky blue grass, perennial rye, Bermuda grass, and Timothy grass.
Nobody likes having cockroaches in their home, especially if you’re allergic to their droppings and sheddings. But unless you need to call pest control, there are some easy ways to eliminate the spread of cockroach allergens.
Keeping your kitchen tidy should be your top priority. Store food in airtight containers or in the fridge, and use a garbage bin with a lid. Wipe any spills immediately, and avoid leaving dirty dishes and pots in the sink.
Try to limit eating to the kitchen only, to avoid crumbs and spills attracting cockroaches to your bedroom or living room. If you suffer from asthma or are sensitive to chemicals, you can use poison baits and traps to get rid of them.
Other Things to Consider
- High humidity levels in your home can create a breeding ground for allergens, so make sure that they are between 35% and 50%.
- If you suffer from severe allergies, getting rid of carpets will help immensely. Thick carpets are difficult to clean properly, and they retain all types of allergens for extended periods of time.
- Reducing clutter will also prevent pockets of allergens from building up, making it easier to stay on top of cleaning.
- Although houseplants have a reputation for purifying the air, they are nowhere near as efficient as actual air purifiers. Houseplants can also increase the humidity in your home, produce pollen, and gather dust on their leaves.
- Last but not least, consider investing in a dehumidifier, a humidity monitor, a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, an air purifier, and an air conditioning unit. Also, make sure to change the filters regularly.