10 Ways to Reduce Allergens in your Home

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Posted 26 Jul 2008 in Soulville

SoulvilleSorry all, I’ve been on a hiatus of sorts. I have a mega certification exam in early August and I’ve been “studying” for it. But I have had some intermittent posts and this is one of them. Today? How to reduce allergens in your home. I’ll also be listing a few upcoming posts so buckle down and get ready!

10 Ways to Reduce Allergens In Your Home

Pressure relief - 254/365One fourth of the US population has some type of allergy or asthma. One fourth! That’s wild. My outdoor allergies didn’t develop until just a couple years ago but for most of my life I’ve had an allergy to strawberries. I can’t eat them (stop with the “Aw, you’re missing out” cause it’s past funny now) but I can touch them and prepare them for other people. I also have bouts with exercise induced asthma though they are rather infrequent flare ups (so I run as much as I want). But food allergies are a little easier to control because you can narrow down what you can’t eat versus what you can eat and you can do your best to avoid situations in which you don’t know what you’re eating. Admittedly, it absolutely would stink if I were allergic to peanuts or gluten because they are in EVERYTHING.

You can’t control the air environment around you, although you can choose where you live by what the quality of the air is like. Anyway, you can’t control the outdoors but you can control what is indoors.

What allergens are indoors? Oh man way too many to count – but namely dust, dirt, mold, mildew, microscopic bugs, sometimes big bugs, rodents, etc. Whether or not you have allergies, your health is controlled by the amount of these allergens. You can find it harder to breathe, find that you’re sleeping longer because they tire you easily, find yourself sneezing or coughing a lot, have a lot of sinus problems you previously didn’t have, etc., which is not a good thing.

Here are 10 great tips to get you started with removing or at least limiting the allergens in your home.

Cleaning1) Clean your entire house on a regular basis – Not saying you have to do it every day (unrealistic) but make it a point to have cleaned your whole house at least once a month. I scrub my bathroom and kitchen at least once a week, then do the other rooms in an order (living room on week 2, bedroom on week 3, den on week 4, etc). This reduces the likelihood of long term buildup.

2) Clean your bathroom and kitchen frequently – Besides the obvious reasons, if you keep these areas clean you’ll feel better. These are the areas that can carry the most germs in your homes, not just allergens. Every day when you use your shower, spray it down with a good daily cleaner or wipe the tub down after you use it. This makes it easier during your weekly big scrub down and prevents mildew. A good mildew resistant shower curtain is good too. But you can stick your shower curtain and liner in the washing machine – they need it too! In the kitchen and bathroom, sweep daily to collect any droppings (like food or hair) and mop at least once a week. In the kitchen, these droppings feed creatures you don’t want and in the bathroom they can too in addition to helping collect dust. Throw out “dead” food – if you’re not going to eat it, if it was take out from a week ago, if you don’t remember when you bought it, if it smells sour, if it has mold on it. You know when it’s gone to food heaven – let it’s physical being go. Bad food in a fridge can make other food go bad more quickly so make sure to clean it out. Give your fridge a good wipe down at least once a month.

laundry day3) Wash your bed linens, towels, clothes etc at least once a week – Many of us go a few weeks at a time between changing our sheets and towels. You might not think about it. But you do shed dead skin and that feeds bed bugs and other bugs – gross! Your skin will love you for changing your sheets and towels (after about a week they don’t hold the moisture like a fresh one). It’s worth the extra dough to have at least one spare set of towels and sheets handy each week. Especially as students, we need time to scrounge up those quarters for laundry. But washing once a week will also keep all of that dead skin you shed from just sitting and keep those sweaty gym clothes from smelling rancid and being mildewy.

4) Vacuum! (Or Mop) – If you have carpets and allergies you’ve probably heard a million times that keeping them clean is essential. If you simply run the vacuum a couple times a week then move furniture and vacuum areas you haven’t reached on your usual go rounds once a month, you’ll keep your allergens to a minimum. You can vacuum your mattress and futons and couches too. If you have hardwood or linoleum floors, you know you still get dust balls (dust bunnies). Sweep every day and mop at the same time you mop your kitchen. It will keep everything clean and shiny and will let you have a good “Footloose” moment every once in a while.

Dehumidifier5) Get a dehumidifier – Dehumidifiers can help control your indoor breathing environment. If you feel you need one or if it’s recommended by your doctor, check them out and buy the best one. Not the cheapest necessarily, but the BEST one.

6) Clean the corners of your ceiling – We’ve all seen spiderwebs in places we don’t touch and still can rarely see the spiders. You’ve got to sweep the ceiling area of your home too. The same thing goes for radiators – as annoying as they are to clean, make sure you do it.

7) Clean your books and bookshelves – I’ve got a million books and papers everywhere and they are a known hiding place for allergens. Reduce papers you don’t need and store the others out of the open area. Dust off your books and bookshelves on a regular basis and if you don’t need them or want them for a personal collection, let them go to another reader.

8 ) Wipe down your electronics – In the electronic age we have bigger breeders of dust and other allergens. Wipe down your electronics regularly with proper cloths. Use canned air to spray dust out of your computer and other electronics as dust loves to collect inside your electronics as well.

Tatyanah's shoes9) Keep your shoes in one place, near the door – “You’re crazy, shoes go in the bedroom!” Well not really – you track in so many outdoor allergies on your shoes. And if you’re like me, you’re apt to exercise and come in with sweaty icky shoes or go somewhere and come home with completely soaking wet shoes (rafting! weee!). Keep them by the door (either indoors or outdoors) and have a specific pair of flip flops or shoes that you walk around in inside or do what your feet like best and go barefoot or with socks. Find out what the manufacturer recommends for cleaning your shoes and do that when it’s time (you’ll know when – my running shoes STINK when it’s time and it’s clearly time to wipe down the dress shoes when the black is yellow with pollen).

10) Get everyone in on the action! – If you live with others and you’re trying to keep down the allergens, don’t leave your roomies out in the cold! Let them know what you’re doing and why and make it part of the weekly chore assignments to do these things that will reduce or eliminate allergens in your home.

That’s all I’ve got for now – what do you guys do to keep the allergens down? Let me know – I always need good tips!

The next few posts will be concentrated on productivity, study help and picking up new habits and hobbies as we head forth into a new school year. No worries for my techies, those posts will include tech info as well as reviews of some of the COOLEST tech items out now so you can add to your Amazon wish list like I do. Hopefully sometime in August I’m going to pickup woodworking (go me!) and will also have a post dedicated solely to my first project. If you have anything you want to read about, post it in the comments and I’ll throw it in the mix. Thanks!

HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears regularly.

Creative Commons License photo credits: JustABigGeek, Micah Sittig, size8jeans, yum9me and kReEsTaL

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  1. I think everything here is great advice, and some stuff I didn’t know already. We’re moving into an apartment come September, and both of us (my girlfriend & I) have allergies (and a cat!), we need to find a way to keep our air clean so we can at least sleep well.

    I’ve been thinking about investing in an air purifying. You can get a small one for about $80-$100 and keep it in the bedroom. I’ll also add that having a cat (especially a long-haired one that like to cuddle) can cause problems for allergies and regular noses alike. Brushing her down and using special ‘cat-wipes’ that come pretty cheap usually helps keep her clean and our bed hair-free.

    I’ve never really got why people want to wear their shoes indoors. Any house I’ve been in asks you to leave your shoes at the door, but maybe that’s just southwestern Ontario. As long as your floors are kept clean of crumbs and things, there’s nothing wrong with bare-foot, and it feels damn great. If you’re cold, wear socks or slippers.

    Aziz’s last blog post: Download Of The Day: Bug Shooting (Windows)