Many people experience allergies from things like pollen, dust, mold, or pet dander. Your home can hide many substances that cause allergic reactions—also called allergens. If you are allergic to pollen, dust mites, or mold—your household objects, decor, and furniture may be making your allergies worse.
If you want to reduce your allergy symptoms and the allergens in your home you can cut-back on, clean, or get rid of the things that are harboring the allergens. Here are eight things you can try.
Wash Your Bedding and Plush Toys
Your bedding, plush toys, and mattress can harbor allergens, such as dust mites, and cause allergic reactions. Dust mites are the most common indoor allergen—and these microscopic animals survive on a steady diet of human skin cells. If you spend about six to nine hours a day sleeping—that means that your bed is a major source of dust mite exposure.
You should wash your bedding and any stuffed animals in hot water (at least 120 degrees for bedding and 130 degrees for stuffed animals). You can also cover your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen-proof covers.
Keep Your Windows Closed
Air from outside can pull in allergens like pollen, ragweed, and even mold. Keep your windows and doors closed to reduce the amount of pollen that can get in. In the warmer months, use an air conditioner to reduce humidity and dust mites (be sure to change the filter often).
Replace Your Houseplants
Mold can thrive inside buildings, too—especially in damp places like the soil of potted plants. While many outdoor molds lie dormant during the colder, winter months, the spores from the indoor varieties can trigger symptoms year-round. Unfortunately, the only way to ward off mold spores is to get rid of the moisture.
Still, you can look into plants that do not require moist soil. Also, some plants can remove other air pollutants from your home.
Remove Carpet and Upholstered Furniture
Dust mites often live in textile fibers, so large populations can grow in shaggy blankets and in the thick fabrics on furniture. Unfortunately, unlike bedsheets or blankets, it can be harder to wash couch cushions. Try to steer clear of upholstered furniture, whenever you can.
The same rules apply to area rugs and carpeting. In general, solid flooring—like tile or hardwood—is the least hospitable environment for dust mites.
Store Your Humidifier/Dehumidifier During Allergy Season
Consider storing your humidifier during allergy season. Since dust mites absorb fluids from the air around them, they tend thrive in high humidity levels. Using a humidifier can help dust mites survive longer.
Unfortunately, however, humidity can be important in helping you stay comfortable and healthy. Try to keep humidity levels in your home below 50%. This should render the bugs dormant.
If you live in a dry environment, you can use a humidifier until your home reaches 50% humidity. If you live in a moist environment, try using air conditioning and a dehumidifier to minimize the growth of dust mites.
Clean Out Clutter
Cleaning out clutter is another thing that people can do to reduce the dust that mites live in. Dust mites settle into fabric and furniture so the best way to get rid of them is by getting rid of the things they can cling to. This may include things like:
- Drapes and curtains
- Stuffed animals
- Upholstered furniture
If you want to hold on to some of your knick-knacks, try storing them in sealable boxes that you can wipe down easily.
Avoid Purchasing Flea Market Items
Unfortunately, flea-market items can harbor allergens like dust and mold. Over time, our skin cells can work themselves into furniture, where they can sustain a community of dust mites. Plus, even after the critters die, their dead shells and leftover waste can continue to trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Get a Vacuum With a HEPA Filter
Though all vacuums can clean your floors, the dust particles can re-enter the air if you do not have a HEPA filter. Swap out your vacuum for one with a HEPA filter. You can also try a double-layered microfilter bag in your vacuum cleaner.
While you vacuum, wear a mask and stay out of the vacuumed area for at least 20 minutes after you've vacuumed. This will give the allergens some time to settle.
A Quick Review
Many items in your home, ranging from fabrics to plants, can trigger your allergies. If you have allergies to dust mites, spores, or pollen, it can be helpful to reduce how much you are exposed to allergens by doing things like removing carpet, keeping your windows closed, and cleaning out clutter.
If these tips don't help with your allergy symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider to figure out treatment options.
American Lung Association. Dust mites.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Dust mites and cockroaches.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. How can I control indoor allergens and improve indoor air quality?
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Dust mite allergy.