If you have allergies, they might just be a mild annoyance—perhaps they cause the odd sneezing fit, or leave you with watery eyes at certain times of the year. Alternatively, you might be at the other end of the spectrum, suffering from symptoms that make you utterly miserable and undermine your quality of life. Either way, there are certain smart things you can do to make your house a safe haven where allergies are less likely to strike. Here are nine of the best ways to allergy-proof your home.
1. Be proactive about mold
Your bathroom and kitchen are the main places where mold is likely to grow, and it is one of the worst offenders when it comes to triggering allergies. Don’t wait until you notice a big green patch of mold before you take action—instead, try to guard against mold buildup by looking for cracks where water can accumulate. Seal these cracks wherever possible, and add a dehumidifier in damp areas where mold is likely to thrive. Remember, mold isn’t just bad for your health—it can damage the foundations of the building as well.
2. Take a look at the products you use
Although a lot of the best tips for fighting allergies involve being on top of your cleaning routine, it’s also vital to note that allergies can be exacerbated by the very products you’re using to keep your home in good condition. Avoid ammonia and other ingredients that have offensive odors, and don’t use any aerosol sprays (especially if you have asthma as well as allergies).
3. Don’t wear shoes indoors
When you walk into your home wearing shoes, you bring in millions of mold spores, bacteria and other invisible organisms. Consequently, it stands to reason that you’re less likely to trigger allergies if you ask everyone to leave their shoes at the front door. As a bonus, implementing a “no shoes” policy helps to avoid stinky mud (and worse) from being spread all over your floors by oblivious guests.
4. Regularly get rid of dust
While you might not notice dust until there’s a thick layer sitting on top of a piece of furniture, the truth is that it’s building up all the time—and it can trigger uncomfortable allergy symptoms long before it’s readily visible. Make a habit of getting rid of dust once or twice a week, mopping or vacuuming your floors and thoroughly wiping down all of the surfaces in the home.
5. Tackle dust mites
It isn’t just floors and furniture that matter when it comes to dust—as unpleasant as it might be to contemplate, your bed covers and blankets are host to plenty of dust mites. To reduce their presence, change your bedding regularly, and use zip-on covers for it so that it’s not as easy for them to set up shop.
6. Think twice about curtains
There’s a certain appeal to heavy curtains, which can look lavish and do a lot to keep the heat in when it’s cold outside. However, the thick fabric attracts dust, and when you open the windows hundreds of allergens blow in and stick to the curtains. Plus, many people forget to clean the curtains when doing their regular housework routine. Blinds made from something other than fabric are a better option, but if you do want to keep your curtains then try to clean them just as often as the rest of the home. Vacuum them once a week, and launder them every month.
7. Change your approach to plants
Plants and flowers add wonderful splashes of color to the home, and they also help to purify the air. However, it’s possible that your allergies are connected to their presence—or at least to the way you’re keeping the plants. In particular, the soil in potted plants can become moldy over time, triggering upper respiratory problems like coughing and chest tightness. Consider leaving these plants outside, or at least adding aquarium gravel to the top surface of the soil.
8. Consider hardwood floors
Like your bedding, carpets and rugs attract dust mites and provide a great place for them to breed. In addition, carpets can trap pollen, exacerbating your allergy symptoms. If you’re considering redecorating your house and want to keep future sneezing to a minimum, hardwood surfaces are the way to go. They make it much easier to see dust as it accumulates, and it’s a lot easier to get rid of it before dander, dust and other allergens have a chance to get out of control. Before you set out to do it yourself, consider getting a quote or two.
9. Be very careful when choosing a pet
Finally, if you know that you suffer from allergies, it pays to test out your response to different animals before you pick one. Try to get plenty of exposure to the type of pet you’re interested in adopting, and experiment with different breeds. For example, if you like cats, you might respond differently to the coarse hair of an American Wirehair than you do to the soft, silky fur of a Burmese. Meanwhile, if you already have a pet and know that it plays a role in your sniffling or sneezing, regular grooming and meticulous household cleaning habits are sure to help.