12 ways to defeat allergens
Allergens are a fact of life around the home – but it doesn’t mean you can’t fight back.
Your home can be a big source of allergens – dust mites, cockroaches and their droppings, mould and pet dander, or even pollen from the great outdoors. The good news is there are plenty of ways to fight back and keep things under control. Here’s our handy guide to defeating them around your home.
Considering your family, friends and pets bring the outside in on their shoes, keeping a clean floor is a big step forward in the fight against allergens. Add food crumbs that attract cockroaches and their allergenic droppings to the mix and you can see why weekly vacuuming and mopping is a must. Electrostatic mops will pick up dust without releasing it into the air, or choose a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system as they can also reduce the amount of allergen getting kicked into the air.
dust is attracted to surfaces like a moth to a flame and piles of clothing, toys, books and general debris are an unnecessary place to let dust settle (and are a lot harder to regularly clean than a table top or bed head.) Piles of clutter are also a hiding place for cockroaches and their droppings. If everything has a place – even if it is a plastic storage container with a lid, then you will find it far easier to keep your home a dust free zone.
mould is an allergen and breeds in the bathroom relatively easily. Many bleach cleaners simply recolour mould and don’t remove it, so use a scrubbing brush with your cleanser of choice to really remove it. A solution of vinegar or sugar soap is a more natural remedy for removing mould from walls in general, including in the bathroom. Last but not least, choose a shower curtain that can be washed in a washing machine and put it through the wash regularly (unless you have glass screens!).
Use an exhaust fan when running hot water and keep an eye out for mould growing on walls and ceilings – mould can appear around doorways or windows if the seals are not intact, or near clothes dryers if they are used without adequate ventilation.
Use a damp cloth or electrostatic mop when dusting to better trap allergens as opposed to dry dusting which can release them into the air.
Mattress and pillow protectors can be easily thrown into the wash every couple of months, while covers should be washed weekly in water 55 degrees Celsius or hotter (check the care instructions to avoiding shrinkage.) Soft toys that are in regular rotation should also be regularly washed- a good rule of thumb is to throw them in with the bedding. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filtration system and dedicated mattress nozzle to clear the mattress of allergens while your protectors are being washed.
Use your dryer
Air drying your washing in the great outdoors means picking up pollens and mould, so using a clothes dryer on days of high pollen count can help.
The great outdoors
A lot of allergens come from the great outdoors, so making sure your pathways and patios are regularly kept clean will help reduce your indoor allergen count.
Get rid of carpets and rugs where you can
Really a tip for the more allergen sensitive, carpets and rugs may be hiding indoor allergens and are harder to deep clean. If you have them, vacuum once a week – and if your allergies are serious, have someone else do it, and be aware allergens kicked up by the vacuum may still be in the air for 20 minutes.
Be window covering wise
Venetian or flat blinds are easier to clean than heavy curtains, or try machine washable curtains or external shutters.
Cats and dogs
Keep cats and dogs out of bedrooms and off the couches during sensitive periods (high pollen count days can see pet owners affected by pets than have rolled in the garden, for example).
Fix up leaks and clear gutters
If water is getting into the house through leaks, poorly sealed windows or doorways or running into the ceiling due to overflowing gutters, then you may find yourself battling a mould problem.
If you are finding allergy symptoms are becoming a problem for you, especially after spending time indoors, talk to your GP about a referral to an allergist for more personalised advice.
This article was originally written by Melanie Hearse for our sister site kidspot.com.au and adpated for kidspot.co.nz