After some very cold weather followed by some very wet weather, our neck of the woods enjoyed a couple of glorious warm and sunny days that promise spring will come again. Yes, yes it will!
Spring means we’re transitioning out of the yuck of winter weather and into the joys of summer. But it also means we are headed into a peak allergy season. To help you get a jump on keeping allergic reactions to a minimum, we offer some tips for preparing your home before the spring season starts–because being safe includes being healthy.
Decreasing allergens in the home
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are on the rise. They already affect as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children, and allergies make up the fifth leading cause of chronic disease in the U.S.
Allergies can be triggered by substances both outside of your home such as pollen, as well as by substances inside of your home such as mold, dust mites, and pet dander. We call the triggers allergens. While you can’t control what is outside of your home, you can be proactive about decreasing the allergens that are inside of your home by paying attention to these three allergen bad guys.
Allergen Bad Guy #1: Mold spores
Mold spores trigger allergic reactions and need to be kept to a minimum. You can’t always see where mold has developed, so be extra diligent about tracking down sources and dealing with them.
Mold likes wet, and mold like humidity. Try to keep the humidity in your home at about 50%. Keep your bathroom and kitchen extra clean, since those are the rooms with the most moisture. Use your bathroom fan after bathing. And inspect all your plumbing to make sure you don’t have any leaks or mold buildup.
Allergen Bad Guy #2: Dust mites
To help decrease mold spores and dust mites both, keep your air filters clean, both those on your furnace and your air conditioning unit, if you have one. Also keep any other filters clean, as well as vents and fans like the one over your stove and the one in your bathroom, as well as any wall heaters. If your bathroom and/or kitchen fans don’t vent to the exterior, you might want to consider redoing those.
Also be willing to get rid of what’s causing the dust in the first place. De-clutter your home. Consider pulling up carpet and using washable area rugs instead. Rethink the frou frou curtains and pillows and the knickknacks. The less surface area for dust to cling to, the less dust you’ll have.
Pay close attention to your bedroom and how you can reduce dust there, because you spend a lot of time there compared to other rooms, and the bedding alone can be a dust magnet. You might even consider investing in hyperallergenic bedding.
When cleaning, damp mop your floors in addition to vacuuming, because vacumming alone won’t get at the dust.
Allergen Bad Guy #3: Pet dander
Notice we didn’t say the pets are the bad guys? Because they most definitely are not to blame. Pets add much value to our lives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t also shed hair and skin (and the skin is the dander that triggers the allergies).
Reducing the pet dander in your home requires the same steps as reducing the mold spores and dust mites: cleaning, de-cluttering, and keeping air filters clean. In addition, your pets will need some attention too. The Humane Society recommends weekly baths for dogs and cats (yes, cats) to get rid of the dander our pets naturally shed.
Spring will come and reward us for making it through yet another winter, but it will also hit many of us hard with sneezing, runny noses and even asthma. Be proactive against the pollens by doing what you can to decrease the allergens inside your home, and maybe the allergens outside won’t hit you so hard.