Living Space: As spring dawns, avoid bringing allergens in the house
As spring approaches, trees and plants will start to bloom, officially kicking off allergy season. If you have asthma or allergies, this time of year can be welcomed and feared. Sure, the weather is nicer, but if you're sneezing all the time or struggling to breathe, it's hard to enjoy. Luckily, you can take steps to reduce the pollen and allergens in your home.
Start in bedroom
The one area of the home that harbors the most allergens and can make you the most miserable is the bedroom. In addition to pollens and molds, the bedroom 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. Pets, in addition to having dander, can carry pollen in the house 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.
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 better, 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 high-efficiency particulate absorption filter. These machines provide the best cleaning because the dust and pollen are trapped and 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 to create a soup of allergens.
Your regimen should include regular, deep cleaning of carpets. This means steam-cleaning. A professional steamer uses hotter water than most home steamer models and does a better job. Also, regularly clean air ducts and filters, which circulates outdoor and indoor air and can trap pollens and allergens.
Replace air conditioning filters monthly, making sure to purchase a high-quality filter rated for allergens and pollen. Have your air ducts cleaned annually.
Check high-humidity rooms frequently for the presence of mold, and scrub bathroom and laundry vents and fans often to make sure they don't develop mold.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.