Spring is here, and so are allergen triggers such as pollen. Produced by flowers, trees, grass, and weeds, pollen is easily brought into your humble abode by clothing, pets, or through open windows. Sadly, this annoying yellow powder is not the only home invasion able to wreak havoc. While you cannot allergy-proof your home entirely, there are ways to lessen the impact. First, know your enemy.
Dust: One of the biggest enemies of asthma sufferers is dust particles, which collect on any and everything. Dust can form a thick layer on ceiling fans before you can bat an eyelash.
Animal dander: This allergy-inducing protein from the saliva, dead skin flakes that become loosened, and urine protein from dogs or cats can stick to any surface and remain airborne for several hours, floating from room to room.
Mold: Anything damp (carpet, walls, window moldings, etc.) can turn into a dangerous haven for mold. This type of fungus can get into your lungs, cause infection and respiratory illnesses, especially for people who are immunocompromised or going through chemotherapy. Mold is not always visible and can grow beneath flooring or behind walls. Replace worn, moldy seals where you can — like on refrigerators, for example.
Maintaining a clean household is imperative to minimize the effects caused by these little troublemakers and there are dozens of natural cleaning products on the market available to help combat the problem. Clean your showerheads regularly to reduce bacteria and mold buildup. Dust with a damp cloth to capture dander, dust, and insect droppings.
Since allergens thrive in humidity, you will want to keep levels low. Having a home dehumidifier that does not contain calcium chloride like those sold by Eva Dry Dehumidifiers may be a great option. The company’s dehumidifiers use absorbent silica gel crystals to pull excess moisture from the air. Don’t forget that HVAC system: make sure air ducts are regularly cleaned and filters changed when necessary.
Houseplants are nature’s air filters, plus they add color and make a nice addition to home décor. Chrysanthemums and Gerber daisies absorb volatile chemicals like benzene from interior paint. Other houseplants to consider include:
- Areca palm naturally humidifies
- Lady palm filters ammonia
- Dracaenas absorb and hold allergens
- Philodendrons remove formaldehyde.
If possible, replacing carpet with bamboo, wood, or tile flooring is another good suggestion. If it’s not, then using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter will help. Standard vacuums only stir up allergens.
Avoid down comforters and pillows — or at least encase them in allergen-proof covers. Wash linens weekly in hot water. Save your energy by using cold water for the rinse cycle.
To help reduce pollen, bathe before going to bed. Also, consider using a time-tested neti pot to “rinse” sticky particles from inside your nose.
Avoid drying your clothes outside where they can collect pollen. Invest in a folding drying rack instead and dry your clothes indoors. You’ll also save energy. Choose leather furnishings that can be wiped down or sofa and chairs with washable slipcovers.
So if you’re an allergy sufferer, don’t give up hope: a little attention and care can reduce those airborne nasties in your home that have tormented you in the past.