How to Get Rid Of The 4 Most Common Allergens In Your Home
Indoor allergens stink. They cause itchy throats, runny noses, constant sneezing and make it difficult for your family to breathe. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly 40 million Americans suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies. Because indoor allergens are so common, they can be difficult to control, especially if you don’t know what you’re battling.
Here at HVAC.com we want the air in your home to be as clean as possible so your family stays healthy. For homeowners, that means understanding what indoor allergens you’re dealing with and how to fight them. For instance, did you know regular springtime HVAC maintenance by an HVAC professional can reduce indoor allergens in your home? Did you know there are DIY ways to fight the four main indoor allergens between HVAC maintenance appointments?
How To Remove The Four Main Indoor Allergens In Your Home:
What they are: Dust mites are one of the most prevalent indoor allergens in any home. They are microscopic organisms that feed on things like dust, dead skin, and hair. Between their carcasses and the enzyme-rich airborne particles they produce, dust mites are a major agitator for people with indoor allergies and/or asthma.
They thrive in warmer, more humid environments like rugs, upholstery, and bedding, which means they’re most likely in the places you spend the most time. And, because of their small size and translucent bodies, they are almost invisible to the naked eye, which makes controlling them even more difficult.
How to get rid of them: It may be impossible to completely remove dust mites from your home. But there are several things homeowners can do to reduce the likelihood of dust mites in the home and combat the spread of dust mite allergens:
- Wash blankets, bedding, and other upholstery at least once a week in hot water to kill dust mites. For the best results, the water should be at least 130 degrees F. If you have non-washable or dry-clean-only upholstery/bedding, try throwing it in the freezer overnight.
- When dusting, use a wet or damp cloth. Dry cloths stir up indoor allergens, releasing them into the air.
- Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture once a week with a HEPA vacuum to trap indoor allergens.
- Purchase dust-proof or allergen-free covers for your mattresses and pillows to keep dust mites from getting comfortable in your bedding.
- Purchase a portable dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home and keep dust mites from multiplying.
Pet dander and other pet allergens
What is it: Pet dander is the flakes of dead skin produced when a pet with hair sheds. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the actual pet hair that causes allergies to worsen, but an allergen in dander, saliva (which covers pet hair) and pet urine.
How to get rid of it: Pet dander, pet hair and urine — like dust mites — cannot completely be removed from your home, even if you keep your pet outside most of the time. Here are a few ways to reduce indoor allergens caused by pets in your home:
- Minimize pet contact on rugs, upholstered furniture, and bedding.
- Vacuum with a HEPA-filtered vacuum at least once a week.
- If your pet has to be on the furniture, use slip covers, towels, or blankets to trap pet dander and hair. Wash these regularly in hot water.
- Brush your pet daily and, if possible, bathe it weekly to reduce pet dander.
- Use a HEPA air purifier to reduce airborne pet dander in your home. Run it at least four hours per day in high traffic areas.
Cockroaches and cockroach carcasses
What they are: Cockroaches and cockroach carcasses cause allergic reactions mainly in homes in the south and in densely populated areas like cities. Indoor allergens from cockroaches and their carcasses make it difficult to breathe and can make your family sick. Most people assume cockroaches only appear in dirty, dingy homes, but they can be found just about everywhere.
How to get rid of them: The easiest way to keep cockroaches — and the indoor allergens they bring with them — out of your home is to be proactive:
- If you see areas where cockroaches are lurking, set up traps and poison baits to keep them from multiplying and clean the area of any cockroach carcasses you find.
- Since cockroaches need water to survive, repair any leaky faucets or drains that may attract cockroaches.
- Store food and leftovers in tightly sealed containers.
- Use garbage cans with lids throughout your home, and especially in the kitchen and garage.
What is it: Mold and mildew are indoor allergens that thrive in damp, humid areas like bathrooms, attics, basements, and under kitchen sinks. Mold releases dangerous spores that can cause breathing issues and, in cases of poisonous molds, brain damage or death.
How to get rid of it: Combatting mold growth is a matter reducing dampness in your home. If mold is an indoor allergen you’re having issues with, here are a few ways to remove and reduce mold growth in your home:
- Fix leaky pipes and check your HVAC system for standing water or condensation.
- Use a mix of bleach and water to clean mold from hard, non-porous surfaces.
- Use a dehumidifier in particularly humid or damp areas like your basement.
- Avoid putting down carpet over concrete floors.
Fight Indoor Allergens!
Don’t just sit back and let indoor allergens affect your health. As the old adage goes, “The best defense is a good offense.” Be proactive about how you fight indoor allergens by incorporating as many of these suggestions as you can, and you’ll breathe healthier air.
How do you get rid of dust mites, pet dander, and other indoor allergens? What other tips do you have?