The birds are chirping, the weather is getting warmer, and flowers are blooming everywhere. It’s wonderful! Well, except for all the pollen, right?
It’s not just pollen, either. Allergens really ramp up when it starts getting warmer out there, and it’s leaving us all sniffly and itchy. When we come home, we just want a little relief from all of it. But what if I told you that all those allergens are finding a way inside your home? It can leave you feeling like you can’t get away from it. And if you are waking up feeling congested before ever stepping outside, that means you’ve probably got pesky pollen particles invading your indoor air.
We can’t really control all those pollen particles outside, but we can do our best to help the air quality inside our homes. Sometimes it’s all about prevention, but there are other things you can do to improve your indoor air quality and help eliminate allergens from your home. When it comes to annoying allergies, any little bit helps!
Check out these tips on keeping the allergens out, so you can breathe easy inside your home.
Keep the Windows Closed
When warmer weather comes along, it’s so tempting to open up the windows to let fresh air flow through the house. Unfortunately, that spring breeze comes with something else: allergens.
When you open up windows and doors, all the pollen and other allergens just blow right into your home and infiltrate your indoor air. And while your HVAC will do its best to filter particles through the air filter, it can only do so much, especially if you’re actively inviting all that pollen indoors!
Avoid the temptation! Think of indoors as a sanctuary of sorts from allergens. We’re going to do our best to prevent allergens from getting inside, so you can have refuge from all the pollen outdoors.
Take Off Your Shoes!
The first line of defense against allergens is also the easiest thing you can do. Simply taking off your shoes when you come home will help reduce the number of particles that make their way inside. As you walk around all day, your shoes are picking up plenty of allergens everywhere you go.
Designate a spot at the entryway where everyone removes their shoes. Inform everyone that you have a “no shoes” policy in your home – and hold them to it! It might be hard to enforce at first, at least until everyone gets the hang of it. But, it’s an important step to keeping pollen and other allergens from outside from coming inside.
It’s also important to have an outdoor mat and an indoor mat to catch anything and everything right at the door. It’s just an added layer of support. And don’t forget to vacuum this area regularly, or take the mats outside to shake them out.
Take Off Extra Layers, Too
While you walk around outside your home, it’s not just your shoes that pick up pollen particles. Any jackets, scarves, hats, shirts, pants, or other clothing items you were wearing that day have held on to allergens from the outside world.
For severe allergies, it can be a good idea to take off these clothing items as soon as you come inside. Throw them straight into a laundry basket and keep them there until it is time to do laundry. It’s best if you have a mudroom, or a closet near where you enter the home. Just keep an “allergen” laundry hamper there, and throw everything in as soon as you arrive. When you do wash the quarantined clothing, make sure you do it in hot water to kill the allergens.
A Good Rinse
Much like your clothes, your face, skin, and hair pick up a lot of allergens, too. It’s all exposed to the environment, too, after all!
If you suffer from severe allergies, it might be best to give yourself a good rinse as soon as you come home. I know it seems like overkill, but a shower helps remove all those allergens from your skin and hair. It prevents the particles from transferring to clothing items, furniture, pillowcases, and more. It will help you feel less congested when you wake up in the mornings.
Vacuum Floors Thoroughly
No matter how hard you try to prevent all those allergens from coming inside, it’s inevitable that some will make it in. On top of that, we’ll never be able to avoid indoor allergens, like pesky dust or pet dander.
Don’t forget to vacuum your floors thoroughly, and on a regular basis. Yes, even if you have hardwood floors! Sweeping can kick all those allergens back up into the air. If possible, purchase a vacuum that has HEPA filtration, to help trap those tiny particles.
Regardless of how much you vacuum, carpets need extra attention. Get any carpets or rugs deep-cleaned on a regular basis, too. Professional carpet cleaning will get rid of allergens and kill any dust mites lingering around. Many home carpet cleaners may also help if they use hot water.
Don’t Forget About Upholstery
While you are deep cleaning carpet fibers, don’t forget about other fibers around the home, too. That includes upholstered furniture, bedding, curtains, and more. These fabrics hold on to both indoor and outdoor allergens and can have you waking up congested in the morning.
Bedding and curtains are easy because you can wash them with hot water in a washing machine. Make sure to do this frequently, and always use hot water to eliminate the allergens.
Cleaning upholstery can be trickier, but it’s definitely possible! Start by vacuuming them at least once or twice a week. If the fabrics can be steam cleaned, this is a must! The high temperature is effective in helping eliminate dust mites and other microbes. Removable cushion covers are a life saver, too. Just toss them in the wash!
Many companies, like Clorox and Arm & Hammer, also offer cleaning products that help reduce allergens, too.
Change Out Air Filters
Your HVAC filters need to be changed regularly, so there is no time like the present! They have been pulling in more than their fair share of dust and other allergens. Replacing your filter with a new one will ensure that your HVAC is working efficiently. However, it is also an important step to improving indoor air quality – something that is really important when combating allergies.
When your air filter is clean and your HVAC is running properly, it actually reduces the amount of dust and other allergens in your home. The air filter actually captures these particles before they recirculate back into the air.
Do Your Homework on Houseplants
I love a good houseplant. I probably have more than I should, but I can’t help it! Unfortunately, not all houseplants are the same when you suffer from allergies. After all, pollen is a major allergen, and it does come from plants. Flowering plants outdoors aren’t really different from flowering plants inside, when it comes to pollen.
Flowering houseplants can definitely cause airborne allergens inside of your home. Avoid orchids, weeping figs, chrysanthemums, and other flowering plants. Spores released from ferns can also aggravate allergies. And plants with fuzzy leaves, like African violets, can, unfortunately, trap allergens in their foliage.
If you tend to overwater your plants, you might want to rethink it, too. If soil is too wet, it could encourage mold to grow, which is another airborne allergen.
Use an Air Purifier
Much like the air filters you place in your HVAC system, an air purifier also helps clean the air by filtering out contaminants. That includes dust and other allergens that could be irritating you and making you congested. While they all have a filter to help trap those allergens, some even use ultraviolet light to help kill airborne pathogens like bacteria and mold.
As an added bonus, it will also help remove contaminants that cause odors, so the air in your home will smell extra fresh!
Ditch the Carpet
Okay, I know that this is a drastic suggestion, but hear me out: if you suffer from allergies, you should ditch the wall-to-wall carpet. It isn’t doing you any good.
I know we already talked about vacuuming regularly and having rugs and carpet deep-cleaned on a regular basis. However, no matter how many times you steam-clean or use a carpet cleaner, all that carpet just keeps collecting allergens as they settle from the air. Then, as you walk through the room, you’re kicking it all back up into the air.
And then, it just keeps happening… over and over…
I know that this really only applies to people that own their homes, but it’s worth mentioning. Having hard-surface flooring will be infinitely easier on your sinuses, ears, eyes, and anything else they irritate. And luckily, these days you can find washable, low-pile rugs that fit in standard-sized washing machines. This makes it much easier to thoroughly clean the rugs more often before allergens have a chance to build up.