The arrival of spring also means the start of sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes for the more than 50 million people who suffer from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Outdoor allergens like pollen and mold are much to blame during the warmer months, but indoor allergens can also cause symptoms to flare.
Dust mites, dander and even cockroaches can cause problems for allergy sufferers when indoors. About 20 million Americans have a dust mite allergy and 63 percent of American homes contain allergens from cockroaches, which are most commonly introduced through cockroach saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies.
So, how can you allergy-proof your home to keep it from being a source of stuffiness and sneezing, during the spring season?
In addition to visiting the allergist and taking proper medications, it’s equally as important to eliminate potential allergy triggers in the home, which – in the case of cockroaches – are often found scurrying from room to room. Simple household chores like cleaning and vacuuming can help you find relief. Consider these 10 tips to allergy-proof your home:
- Patch it up: Exclude pests by sealing cracks and gaps in walls and floors using a silicone-based caulk. Pay special attention to where utility pipes enter.
- Manage moisture: Maintain the humidity level in the house at about 50 percent by properly ventilating basements and crawl spaces. Consider running a dehumidifier in these areas to prevent moisture buildup.
- Bring out the vacuum: Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
- Banish dust: Dust hard surfaces frequently using a dust rag or damp cloth. Limit the amount of fabric items in each room since they attract airborne allergens like dust mites and pet dander.
- Clean filters: Clean or replace the filters in your furnace and air conditioner each month.
- Keep the kitchen clean: Wipe surfaces daily, including counters, stove tops and sinks. Don’t leave dishes to pile up in the sink and make sure to clean crumbs and spills right away.
- Properly package food: Store food in airtight containers and avoid leaving pet food out for long periods of time.
- Take out the trash: Dispose of garbage regularly in a sealed trash bin.
- Protect your pillows: Encase pillows and mattresses in allergen-proof covers to control dust mites. Avoid down pillows or comforters.
- Launder the linens: Wash blankets, throw rugs and bedding in hot water, preferably at 130 degrees F, or take them to be dry-cleaned.
Each year, the AAFA designates May as “Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month” because it’s one of the toughest months for allergy sufferers. However, it’s also the perfect time to ensure the home is free of allergens, and the air you are breathing in is fresh and clean.