Springtime has come to usher away the winter blues, but with springtime comes major allergy issues. Luckily, there are tricks you can use around the house to help keep pollen at bay and allergies under control. Here are the 7 of the best ways to help improve your indoor air quality:
1. Don’t sweep--vacuum.
Even though brooms can be helpful in a pinch, they have the tendency to stir up dust as you clean. Instead of a broom, opt for a vacuum when you can so the dust is sucked up, rather than kicked up. Just make sure that you use the proper attachment for the surface you’re vacuuming and that you vacuum on a regular basis (at least once a week).
2. Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
Average vacuum cleaners, though able to suck up pet hair, dander, and dust particles, are not able to remove them as well as HEPA vacuum cleaners. HEPA vacuums are also able to suck up dust mites (the microscopic arachnids that live in dander) that tend to cause allergic reactions.
3. Don’t wear shoes indoors.
Removing shoes at the door can prevent you from tracking in pollen and dust. It’s also a hygienic practice in general. Dr. Charles Gerba (professor of microbiology and environmental sciences of the University of Arizona) reported this finding from his study on the bottom of shoes: if worn for more than a month, 93 percent of shoes will have fecal bacteria on the bottom of them. Some shoes from that study even carried E. coli!
4. Clean your bedding weekly.
This is especially important if you let your pets on the bed. Day by day, your bedding collects dust, hair, dander, perhaps fur, and the dust mites that live in dander. Pollen can even be introduced to your bed from the clothes you wear.
To avoid annoying allergy symptoms each time you wake up, make sure to machine wash your sheets and duvet cover weekly in a fragrance-free detergent in water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. (That’s the temperature needed to kill dust mites.) Between washes, vacuum your duvet cover or comforter as often as needed.
5. Clean your curtains, shades, and blinds.
Not only can your window coverings accumulate dust and dander from indoors, but they can also gather pollen and dust from open doors and windows. Some window coverings are machine-washable, while others should be vacuumed or wiped down with a dust cloth (usually made from a microfiber material).
6. Avoid products with fragrances.
Anything with fragrances or perfumes added to it can aggravate allergies or give you nearly identical symptoms. Make sure when selecting cleaning supplies that you choose ones that are fragrance-free. Also, avoid any store-bought air fresheners, as many contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause nose, throat, and eye irritation.
7. Use a damp or microfiber cloth when dusting.
If you suffer from allergies, not only will you want to dust frequently (at least once a week), but you’ll also want to do it right. Ordinary, cotton rags can just spread dust around, so make sure they are damp first before dusting with them. The better alternative is a microfiber cloth, as they are able to pick up finer particles than standard cloth.
If you find that you are frequently suffering from allergies in your home and don’t have time to clean as often as you’d like, an indoor air purification system might be the best solution. The system allows you to actually enjoy your time at home by continuously removing common indoor air pollutants (including pollen, mold, pet dander, odor-causing bacteria, and volatile organic compounds).