How to reduce allergies caused by poor indoor air quality
How do you alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms? Well, the answer begins at home, specifically with poor indoor air quality. In places like Ohio, allergies often originate indoors – especially during springtime, when pollen and mold counts are higher. Better air quality within you home can significantly reduce allergy and asthma triggers.
What are allergens?
Allergens are things that cause allergic reactions and/or trigger asthma symptoms. Allergens are often airborne and spread throughout the air before settling onto surfaces, such as furniture and floors.
The main sources of allergens within the home include:
- Pets (dander)
- Wall-to-wall carpet (that collects and holds onto allergens and often isn’t cleaned often enough or properly)
- Soft furniture
- Stuffed toys
- Pillows & Bedding (that aren’t replaced or washed often enough)
- Indoor plants (that aren’t dusted regularly)
- Mattresses (that aren’t covered in allergy-reduced sheets)
There are a few ways you can reduce allergies caused by poor indoor air quality
- Control and reduce your contact with indoor allergens
- Keep your indoor living areas well-ventilated
- Use air purifiers and filters to help clean indoor air as it circulates through your home
What about air purifiers?
Air purifiers are known to help reduce allergens and improve indoor air quality, but the best course of action is to get rid of sources of allergens and irritants and increase the flow of outdoor air into your home.
You also want to reduce humidity within your home, as well. Decreasing humidity levels will help eliminate mold growth and reduce the number of dust mites within your home (remember: dust mites are attracted to moisture). Air conditioners are a great solution to improving air flow and reducing humidity. While you want air circulation throughout your home, it’s better to use your HVAC system to do this instead of leaving your doors and windows open – allowing even more allergens to enter.
Speaking of your HVAC system, you should also ensure you’ve recently changed the air filter.
Going from winter into spring, you should change out your air filter to ensure it’s doing its job of filtering and trapping particles – keeping them from blowing throughout your home.
Other steps to take to reduce allergies
Dust mite control
It’s spring so you should be using this time to clean. The surfaces within your home should be cleaned and remain uncluttered. Opt for bare walls and floors – at least within your bedroom (where you spend ⅓ of your time on average, at home). If you have wall-to-wall carpet, it may be time to consider doing a home update and getting rid of the carpeting. If you absolutely must have carpet (to protect flooring from children, pets, or guests), use low-pile carpets or throw rugs that are capable of being thrown into the laundry to get washed every so often. Another way to reduce allergen and dust mite build up is to get rid of heavy drapes and replace them with roll-down shades or easy-to-wash curtains.
Look for allergen-resistant or plastic covers for your pillows and mattresses. These covers are super effective against dust mites and are great at reducing allergy symptoms. For the rest of you bedding, make sure to wash your covers and sheets in hot water (130+ degrees Fahrenheit) each week, then send them through a hot dryer cycle to kill any dust mites that might be present on/in them.
Vacuum at least once a week
Vacuuming is another effective way at keeping allergens controlled, but only if your using a vacuum that is designed to keep from pushing allergens and dust back into the air. If you’re especially prone to allergies, wear a dust mask when cleaning. Use a damp cloth or rag that is treated with polish when dusting. If you’re especially sensitive, leave your house for a few hours after cleaning it so that the disturbance of dust and allergens from cleaning doesn’t trigger allergy or asthma symptoms.
Reduce pet dander
While you may love your furry best friend, he/she may be unintentionally causing your grief. And while many doctors suggest that allergy-sufferers avoid keeping pets, there are ways to combat pet dander. Keep your pets out of your bedroom (and do not let them on your bed!). If your pet is crate trained and allowed to wander through your home while you’re away, keep your bedroom doors closed to keep your pet out. Just like your own bedding, you also want to keep your furry friends bedding clean, too. Wash and change out your pets furniture and toys often (opt for plastic/rubber-based toys instead of plushies or ropes).
Prevent pollen from getting inside
The best way to prevent pollen from entering your home is to keep doors and windows shut at all times. This means using fans and air conditioning in the warmer months to keep cool while controlling dust mites and keeping humidity levels down. Also make sure to change out your filters often.
Reducing mold spore buildup
Mold is attracted to moisture so it’s important to keep in mind the moisture that typically builds up in the bathroom, kitchen, and other areas around your home (like the basement or attic) where there tends to be water/condensation. Here are a few ways to help ensure mold doesn’t start growing rampantly:
- Don’t run your shower before bathing (only turn it on long enough to get the water warm, then hop in)
- Use dehumidifiers and humidity monitors
- Keep your houseplant count to a minimum (mold spores can build up on damp soil)
- Repair leaks that are causing dampness
- If you notice mold on a surface area, immediately clean it and continually check said surface each week to ensure the mold isn’t returning (clean as often as needed).
Need more information about improving poor indoor air quality within your home and protecting your family against allergens? Contact our HVAC team to learn more!