How To : Home Efficiency

A Sneeze-Free Space : Tips for Reducing Allergens in Your Home

Living with stuffiness or asthma? Here are a few simple strategies for reducing allergy-causing problems in your home.

Rule #1: Keep things cool and dry.

Dust mites and mold love moisture and heat. To keep your air clean:

  • Run the A/C. It dehumidifies the air, filters out pollen and discourages mold and dust mites.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels between 30 and 50%.
  • Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom to vent moisture.

Rule #2: Banish dust mites.

The waste they leave behind is what triggers most allergies.

  • Cover your mattress and pillows with allergen-impermeable covers, and wash your linens, curtains and slipcovers in HOT water (at least 130ºC). It's the only way to kill mites.
  • Try a no-frills approach to decorating. Use blinds instead of heavy curtains, avoid upholstered headboards, and get rid of knick-knacks that collect dust.
  • Stick with hardwood or tile floors if you can, but if you have to have carpeting, go with low-pile and invest in a good vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Keep the air clean with an air filtration system.
  • Wash stuffed toys regularly, and store them in covered plastic bins.

Rule #3: Say goodbye to mold.

  • Check your plants. If you see or smell mold, put aquarium gravel over the dirt, or find them a new home.
  • Wallpaper traps moisture and grows mold. Get rid of old wallpaper, and never put new wallpaper over old - that just masks the problem.
  • Wash your shower curtain regularly, or buy one that's antifungal.

Rule #4: Tame pet dander.

If your best friend is making you itch and sneeze, saying goodbye isn't your only option. Try these ideas first:

  • Minimize dander by washing your pet's bedding often, and vacuuming the spaces where s/he hangs out. Keep your pet out of the bedroom, and limit him to certain parts of the house.
  • Talk to your vet about dander-resistant products.

Rule #5: Breathe clean air.

  • Avoid smoking in your home and limit using the fireplace, since smoke can irritate allergies and asthma.
  • Go natural. Forget scented sprays and harsh chemical cleaning products. Stick with simple, natural ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.

Keep your house dry, cool and clean, and you'll be on your way to being healthier, happier — and sneeze-free!

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