“It sort of becomes a perfect storm inside your house,” she said, adding these allergens tend to interact and “almost feed off each other.”
Dust mites, in particular, thrive in humid air. They are actually tiny parasites that live on dead skin cells. When we sleep, we shed those cells and the dust mites end up living in mattresses and bed pillows, eventually finding their way into cushions and carpets around the home.
Mold also loves warm, moist conditions, though it can create problems both indoors and out. Cockroaches add to the mix, and are another worrisome allergen in the dog days of summer.
Schreiber says the obvious way to take on these indoor allergens is to be more vigilant about cleaning. Linens should be washed in hot water to kill dust mites, and parasite-resistant covers are available for mattresses and pillows.
And while children may not be happy about it, it’s a good idea to keep the number of stuffed animals on their beds in check — especially those that can’t be washed.
Vacuums and air cleaners with HEPA filters can also help. And don’t forget to change the filters in air conditioning units at least once a month, and to regularly inspect your house for leaks after a storm because any water that manages to infiltrate the structure can spur the growth of mold.