Controlling Allergies

For people with allergies, a few simple steps can go a long way in helping keep the home environment as free of allergens as possible.

Such steps can make a big difference in quality of life for allergy sufferers by reducing everyday exposure to allergens and other irritants.

The most important place to begin is the bedroom, where most people spend a third of their life, and then work your way through other rooms in the house.

Bedroom

  • Wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot water weekly. Keep pillows and mattresses encased in dust-proof covers.
  • If possible, replace carpets with hardwood, linoleum, or washable area rugs. If that's not possible, vacuum frequently with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
  • Replace horizontal blinds with washable curtains or washable roller-type shades.
  • Choose furniture that is easy to clean and is not upholstered. Choose leather, wood, metal, or plastic for dressers and nightstands.
  • Keep the room free of clutter or anything that collects dust, including books, knick-knacks, and photo frames. Store toys, games, and plush toys in plastic bins.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe them weekly.
  • Buy an air filter, especially one with a HEPA or small-particle filter.

Living room

  • Replace carpets with hardwood, linoleum, or washable area rugs. If that's not possible, vacuum frequently with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Wash rugs weekly and keep floors swept and mopped.
  • Replace upholstered furniture with a sofa and chairs made of leather, wood, metal or plastic.
  • Replace horizontal blinds with washable curtains or washable roller-type shades.
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning during pollen season. Check window frames for condensation and clean any mold or mildew you find.
  • Keep potted plants out of the house; if that's not possible, spread aquarium rocks over the dirt to contain mold.
  • If you have a pet and don't want to find a new home for it, try to keep it outdoors as much as possible. Vacuum and dust frequently to minimize pet dander.

Kitchen

  • Use a stovetop exhaust fan to get rid of cooking fumes and humidity. Be sure to use a hood that vents outside instead of just filtering cooking particulates.
  • Don't let dirty dishes accumulate in the sink; keep the sink clean and faucet clean and free of mold and food particles.
  • Keep countertops and cabinets free of water and excessive moisture. Use hot water and detergent to clean all surfaces.
  • Throw away food in the refridgerator that is moldy or past its pull date. Wipe up excessive moisture to prevent mold and mildew, and wipe up any spills on refridgerator shelves. Keep the dripping pan clean and replace any refridgerator door seals that are crumbling or moldy.
  • Check under the sink and all lower cabinets for plumbing leaks.
  • Keep food (especially pet food) stored in plastic containers.
  • Make sure the garbage can has a well-fitting lid that keeps out insects, and take out the trash daily.

Bathroom

  • If your bathroom doesn't have an exhaust fan, install one to reduce moisture during baths or showers. Keep the fan running 10-20 minutes after your shower to make sure all moisture has dissipated.
  • Take out any carpet and replace it with wood, linoleum, tile, or any other easily washable flooring. Using washable rugs.
  • Use mold-resistant enamel paint and replace any wallpaper with tile or painted walls.
  • Dry the tub, surrounding wall, and shower door (if you have one) after every shower. This will keep mold from accumulating on the tub and plumbing fixtures. Clean or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.
  • Scrub mold from plumbing fixtures, and keep the toilet and sink clean. Fix any leaks.

Basement

  • Replace carpeting with cement, linoleum, or any easily washable flooring. If that's not possible, vacuum frequently using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Put plastic sheeting (vapor barrier) under carpets to prevent moisture seepage.
  • Replace upholstered furniture with a sofa and chairs made of leather, wood, metal or plastic.
  • Repair any water leaks or damage in the foundation, windows and stairwells.
  • Run a dehumidifier and clean it weekly.
  • Store collectibles and clothes in plastic containers.
  • Use an exhaust fan on your clothes dryer to vent moisture outside.

All over the home

  • Keep your house from becoming a hot, humid breeding ground for dust mites and mold. Keep the temperature at 70 degrees and relative humidity at 30 percent to 50 percent. Keep air ducts clean, and replace furnace and air-conditioning filters at least once a month, or as directed on the filter.
  • Hire an exterminator if your home has cockroaches or mice, as their residue can trigger allergy symptoms. To control any other insect residue (such as from fleas), vacuum carpets and rugs frequently, and wash hard surfaces with detergent and water. Seal cracks and any other areas where insects can enter your home.
  • To prevent mold, keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning. Run a dehumidifier in each room, and keep them clean. Remove any carpet with mold in it. If that's not possible, wash it and any other washable material with a solution of 5 percent chlorine bleach. Wear a protective mask when cleaning away mold.
  • Establish a weekly cleaning routine that involves wet-washing hard flooring surfaces and vacuuming all carpeting and rugs. When dusting, use a damp cloth, and don't forget the tops of doors, windowsills, and window frames. If possible, have someone other than the allergic person do these tasks. If you are allergic, wear a dust mask if you must do these jobs.
  • Forbid smoking anywhere in the house.

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Last updated: 5/13/2022