Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

If you are one of more than 60 million Americans who suffer with allergies and asthma, there are steps you can take in your house to reduce your exposure to common indoor allergens.

If you aren’t sure what’s causing your sneezing and breathing problems, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist, so you can pinpoint your allergy triggers.

Your Bedroom

Let’s start with the bedroom. You probably spend more time in your bedroom over a 24-hour period than anyplace else. Eliminate as many dust collectors, like books, knickknacks and toys, as you can. Ideally, this room should be a true “bed” room.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests you remove carpeting and place dust mite-proof encasing on the mattress, pillows and box springs. Wash all bedding with hot water to kill dust mites, and replace heavy fabric drapes with easy-to-clean blinds or window shades. Remove ceiling fans, as they can stir up mites, molds and irritants.

If you have pet allergy, there should ideally be no pets in the house. But any pets you do have should be kept out of the bedroom.

If your child has stuffed animals in their room, put away as many as possible. To help kill dust mites, place the toys your child must sleep with in the freezer once a week for several hours.

[Read: How to Treat Seasonal Allergies.]

The Kitchen

In the kitchen, there are ways to help decrease your allergen exposure. Make sure you wash all the dishes as soon as you are finished eating to keep cockroaches at bay. Just as important, make sure all food is kept in tightly covered containers and the kitchen garbage can is always sealed tight. Clean food crumbs off countertops, cabinets and floors.

Make sure there are no leaks under the sink as they contribute to mold growth. Watch for mold around the sink and refrigerator, and empty any drip pan under the refrigerator, which can harbor mold and be a breeding ground for cockroaches.

Use a vented exhaust fan above the stove to eliminate any irritant cooking fumes.

[READ: Is It Safe to Take Allergy Medicine While Pregnant?]

Family Room or Other Common Areas

Our next stop is the family room. If you have asthma, avoid using wood-burning fireplaces, as the soot and smoke can aggravate respiratory problems. Use natural gas burning logs to keep the air clearer.

Potted plants can harbor mold and release it into the air when they are watered. Ideally, remove most plants and keep only a few. Check all window seals for moisture, as mold is sure to grow.

As in the bedroom, remove all carpeting and replace it with hardwood or linoleum flooring. If you use area rugs, make sure they are washable. However, carpet removal is not an option for everyone. In that case, use a vacuum cleaner with a high energy particle accelerator, or HEPA, filter. This will help trap pollen, animal dander, mold spores and dust-mite allergens when vacuuming.

It’s also best not to have upholstered furniture. Leather, wood or plastic furnishing are more allergy friendly. Keep windows closed during the fall and spring to keep the pollen out.

The Bathroom

Lastly, check the bathroom. You need good ventilation to ensure that moisture from the sinks, tub and shower doesn’t lead to mold growth. Check under sinks and around toilets to make sure there are no leaks. Bleach solutions are valuable in removing mold buildup in the tub and shower.

Avoid carpeting in favor of tile, linoleum or hardwood flooring in this room. If there are any rugs in the bathroom, they should be washable. Avoid wallpaper in the bathroom, as mold growth commonly develops behind it. Stick with painted walls.

[Read: Is It COVID-19, Allergies, Flu or a Cold?]

Home Ventilation

For some homes with high humidity, a dehumidifier may be valuable in removing moisture from the air and keeping mold and dust mites from growing. Replace your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, filters every three months with a MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting values, which report a filter’s ability to capture larger particles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency) around 10 to 12 to ensure they can trap allergens in the air. If you want an air filter for the whole house or just a room, get a HEPA one. This generally shouldn’t be done unless the other measures discussed aren’t effective enough.

And it goes without saying that smoking should never be allowed in the house.

Following this advice should result in a more allergy-free environment, making your home the sanctuary you’re looking for — free of sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes.

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Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home originally appeared on usnews.com

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