How to Minimize the Triggers of Common Allergies
Friday November 07, 2008
There are steps you can take to allergy-proof your living space and stop allergy triggers in their tracks. Read on and learn what you can do to help keep your allergy symptoms under control.
- Clean frequently. Sweeping, mopping or vacuuming your floor on a regular basis is one of the best ways to decrease the amount of allergens in your home. During allergy season, you may want to do some extra cleaning to further reduce your exposure to dust, dust mites and other allergy-causing agents.
- Use radiant floor heating when possible. Radiant heating systems heat the room from the ground up, using a series of tubes beneath your floor. Radiant heat spreads less dust (and fewer dust mites) throughout the air than other types of heating do.
- Use an air purifier and vacuum with HEPA air filters. High Efficiency Particular Air (HEPA) filters remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles from the air, which include most of the allergens you want to avoid. A vacuum with a HEPA filter will trap these fine particles, resulting not only in clean floors but also cleaner air and overall allergy relief. Be sure to clean the air filters regularly and replace them as necessary.
- Choose allergy-friendly flooring to combat allergy triggers. Consult our Allergy Friendly Flooring section for tips on the best flooring for allergy sufferers. You'll find out about floors that are hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. These floors are designed to resist the growth of mites, mold, and other allergens.
- Choose flooring that emits low VOCs. Look for floors and flooring products that contain the lowest amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds can cause indoor pollution and allergies. If a product is marked E1, it meets or exceeds the acceptable standard for these emissions. If it is not marked E1, check with the vendor or manufacturer.
- Ventilate the area well when installing or refinishing floors. Floor-finishing products can aggravate allergy symptoms in many individuals. Even if you use environmentally-friendly glues, compounds and chemicals, you should still make sure the floor installation or refinishing site is heavily ventilated. Open all the windows around the installation site (and through to the next room if necessary) to create cross ventilation. You may also want to set up a few household fans or a heavy duty industrial fan to keep the air moving. This will ensure that most of the chemicals released into the air during the flooring installation process have disappeared by the time the job is done.
- Use removable, washable covers and cushions for your furniture. You can also find allergen-proof bed covers and mattresses in the bedding department of most stores. These covers are made from tightly-threaded natural fibers that discourage allergens from settling on the surfaces.
- Buy shutters instead of drapes for your windows. Drapes attract dust and may be hard to keep clean, depending on the length you buy. If you have cloth drapes, vacuum them weekly to keep the dust at a minimum.
- Bring in plants. Plants are great natural air filters and can help combat your allergies. Unfortunately, plants may aggravate allergy symptoms if you're sensitive to mold. Make sure to keep an eye on all of the plants in your home and immediately remove any unusual growths that appear.
- Reduce the humidity level in your home. Allergens love humid climates. If you live in an area prone to high levels of humidity, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier. Keeping the household humidity below 30% will prevent the growth of mold and help keep allergens in check. Resist the urge to use a humidifier if you live in a dry, hot climate, since increased humidity will encourage allergens to make themselves at home.
- Avoid using products with strong fumes and airborne irritants. These include paint, certain perfumes, tobacco, and harsh cleaning products. These things tend to cause problems for asthma and allergy sufferers.
- Keep all of your surface areas clear and organized. The more of your floors and countertops you can see, the easier they will be to keep clean. Create more storage spaces by installing more shelves and cabinets.
- Take your shoes off! Did you know many allergy triggers like pollen, pesticide residues and mold spores are tracked into your home on your shoes? Ask everyone to kick off their shoes and place them in the closet closest to the front door. By hiding shoes away you'll prevent dust, mites, and pollen from building up on the floors throughout your home, and help keep indoor air more allergen-free.
About the author: