Allergy Protection: Begin with the Bedroom
Make your bedroom a starting point to reduce allergy triggers. You spend more time in your bedroom than in most other areas of your home. Also, a bedroom is a common place for allergy triggers to accumulate, such as dust mites, pollen, mold, aerosol fumes, perfume, and other personal care products.
Decorate to help reduce or prevent allergy triggers. Look around your bedroom for dust-collecting furnishings that can be replaced or altered to reduce or prevent allergy triggers. Choose furnishings that are not dust collectors. Here are some examples:
Not As Likely to Collect Dust
- leather, wood, or smooth-surface furniture with sleek, straight surfaces
- washable wall coverings
- washable shades, curtains, or valances
- no carpeting or low-pile, smooth-surface carpeting
- washable tile, smooth surface
- acrylic-finished wood flooring
- smooth-surface picture frames or wall hangings
- washable throw pillows and bedspreads
Definitely A Dust Collector
- ornate, upholstered, carved, or tufted surfaces
- flocked or textured wall coverings
- venetian blinds, heavy drapes
- shag or deep-pile carpeting with a textured surface
- rough-surface tile or cement
- unfinished wood
- macrame, tapestries, lacy, or carved frames
- straw, rattan, and other natural fibers
- Avoid textured or flocked wall coverings.
- Consider semi-gloss or gloss paint that is easy to damp-wipe. Use paints that contain a fungicide or a fungicide-primer before applying a smooth-surface wallcovering.
Use allergen-proof bedding, launder in hot water.
- Use non-allergenic pillows, mattresses, and comforters made with synthetic fibers and protect with dust-proof covers.
- Wash bedding in hot water every week with allergen-free detergent.
Keep closets clean, and closed. Closets are an ideal environment for dust and other allergens to collect.
- Organize closets for easy cleaning. Vacuum and damp-wipe surfaces often with an unscented cleaner.
- Store clothes that are not worn often in garment bags.
- Store outerwear in closed closets, just inside the front door to avoid carrying outdoor allergy triggers throughout your house.
- Avoid storing non-clothes items in the same closets with your garments to reduce the likelihood that allergy triggers will gather in your wardrobe.
Remove airborne pollen, mold, and other allergy triggers.
- Set a NO SMOKING policy. It keeps the air clean and reduces allergy triggers dramatically.
- Keep windows closed and use an air-conditioner to filter air, particularly during high-pollen seasons.
- Clean or change the air filters in your air-conditioning and heating systems often.
- Consider replacing the filters that came with the equipment with electrostatic air filters or install an electrostatic or HEPA (High- Efficiency Particulate Air) filtering system.
- Clean the drip pan in your air-conditioner, humidifier, or dehumidifier often.
Clean floors thoroughly and frequently.
- Damp mop floors weekly with an unscented, allergen-free cleaner.
- Vacuum carpeting often to minimize dust and dust mites. Buy HEPA vacuum cleaner bags which are available in a medical supply store or catalog.
- Vacuum on humid days, if possible. The natural dampness makes it easier to remove dust and particles are less likely to disperse in the air.
Keep pets out.
Pet dander is one of the most serious allergy triggers. Cats, dogs, birds, and other pets should be kept out of the bedroom. If possible, keep dogs and cats outside the house or restrict them to one or two rooms.
- Never let pets on the furniture, especially the beds.
- Vacuum or damp-wipe surfaces where pets frequent.
Reduce clutter, remove dust-collectors.
- Throw away old newspapers and magazines.
- File bills, memos, and other paperwork.
- Put books in covered bookshelves or cover books with vinyl that can be conveniently damp-wiped.
- Put collectibles and trophies in display cases.
- Move potted plants outside.
CAUTION: Hot Stuff.
- A fireplace, furnace, or heating system accumulates ashes, soot, dust mites, mold, and mildew.
- Have someone who does not have allergies clean these areas regularly. If you must clean them yourself, wear a HEPA mask available at a medical supply or hardware store.
- Keep radiators clean and periodically check them for punctures or leaks.
- Consider converting a wood-burning fireplace to clean-burning gas.
In the Bathroom
In the Kitchen
- Reduce excess humidity or dampness that can promote mold or mildew.
- Use an exhaust fan.
- Wipe all surfaces with unscented cleaners frequently, especially around pipes and fixtures.
- Avoid using hair spray, perfumes, and other toiletries with fumes in the confined space of a bathroom.
- Use an exhaust hood over the stove to reduce cooking fumes and keep air fresh. Clean often. Clean the refrigerator vent, drip pan, cooling fan, and the coils on the back.
PROTECTING YOURSELF OUTDOORS
Many people don't realize that they can reduce or avoid allergy triggers outdoors as well as inside.
- Garden and exercise outdoors on damp days when the pollen levels are lowest. Avoid strenuous outside activities on dry, high-pollen days.
- Cut grass short and keep bushes and trees well trimmed. Plant less allergenic flowers, shrubs, and trees; ask your local nursery store for advice. Get rid of weeds and wet leaves -they are major allergy triggers.
- Move flowering plants and other high-pollen plants away from doors and windows.
- Never paint when someone with severe allergies or asthma is nearby.
- Use a scarf or muffler to cover your mouth and nose when you leave a heated inside environment and go into cold outside air. It helps your body make the transition without provoking coughing or other allergy symptoms.
ALLERGY-PROOFING ON THE JOB
It pays to BE ALLERGY ALERT! on the job, too. You can put all of these trigger-proofing strategies to work for you.
Remove or reduce dust collectors.
- File papers or memos that don't need to be on your desk.
- Throw out old newspapers, magazines, and memos that clutter your bulletin board. Empty wastebasket daily.
- Throw away dried or plastic flowers.
- Display trophies and other collectibles in cases or covered shelves.
- Remove live plants, especially those in baskets that are likely to attract dust and mold.
Protect equipment, keep your office clean.
- Cover your computer, calculator, and other office equipment overnight. Damp-wipe equipment regularly to remove dust and other allergy triggers.
- Damp-wipe your desk once a week.
- Find out how often your office floor is damp-wiped or vacuumed. Try to get it done often enough to prevent any allergy symptoms.
- Keep storage closets orderly. Damp-wipe shelves and walls often. Keep closet door closed.
Reduce allergens in the air.
- Encourage your employer to set a NO SMOKING policy in the building.
- Keep office windows closed on high-pollen days.
- If you work with strong chemicals in a dust-filled environment:
- store solvents and other chemicals in tightly sealed containers inside locked closets;
- install a fume hood or electrostatic air filter;
- wear a HEPA mask.
Get Medical Advice About Allergies
Keep your doctor well informed about your allergy symptoms and ask about medications that may help reduce them.
Research on allergies has been a priority in recent years and there are several newer medications that do not cause drowsiness and work effectively.
Ask your doctor to explain how the newer medications work to help your body resist allergy attacks. Also ask about interactions with other medications and alcohol or possible side effects.