Smarter Living

March 20, 2014

Living Space: Don’t bring allergens indoors

Savvy strategies for keeping your home free of pollen and allergens.

If you have asthma or allergies, this time of year can be both welcomed and feared. Sure, the weather’s nicer, but if you’re sneezing all the time or struggling to breathe, it’s hard to enjoy it. Luckily, you can take steps to reduce the pollen and allergens in your home.

Start in the bedroom

The bedroom typically harbors the most allergens. In addition to pollens and molds, it can also play host to dust mites in mattresses and pillows. The mites can cause a nighttime stuffy nose, problems breathing and even hives. To curb infestation, cover your pillows and mattress with protective covers. Washing all bedding weekly in hot water helps remove mites.

To avoid bringing pollen into the bedroom, remove clothing in the laundry room, leave your shoes outside the door, and if you have pets, banish them from the room. Besides having dander, pets can carry pollen inside on their fur. Avoid using dust ruffles on the bed that can collect allergens and keep the area under the bed clear. Be sure to vacuum under and behind the bed weekly.

Lastly, showering before bed will remove pollen from your hair and skin, helping you breathe easier while sleeping.

Decorating decisions

Some smart decorating choices will help keep the pollen and allergens in your house to a minimum. Instead of upholstered furniture, opt for leather. Carpeting is notorious for holding dirt and pollen, which can build up over time. Wood, linoleum or tile are more allergen-friendly floor coverings. Switch from heavy drapes to blinds or shutters that can be vacuumed easily.


Regular cleaning is one of the best ways to keep pollens at bay. Part of your arsenal is a good-quality vacuum with a HEPA filter. These machines provide the best cleaning because the dust and pollen are not spewed back into the room. It’s also smart to use natural cleaners because less volatile organic compounds are released into the air that can mix with dust, pollen and dander.

Your regimen should include regular deep cleaning of carpets. A professional steamer uses water hotter than most home steamer models and does a better job; some companies tout their dry carpet-cleaning process. Also, regularly clean air ducts and filters, which circulate outdoor and indoor air and can trap pollens and allergens.

Replace air conditioning filters monthly, buying a high-quality filter rated for allergens and pollen. Have your air ducts cleaned annually. Check high-humidity rooms often for the presence of mold, and scrub bathroom and laundry vents and fans often to make sure they don’t develop mold.

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