SPONSORED — If coughing, sneezing and itchy eyes seem like business as usual, you’re not alone. Allergies and allergic diseases are common ailments for Americans young and old, with more than 17 million adults and more than 7 million children suffering from asthma alone, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergies also happen to be the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, costing Americans more than $18 billion per year. If you suffer from allergies, it’s time to make your home your allergen-free sanctuary. Here’s how.
Get to know your allergens
Dust mites, pet dander, pollen, oh, my! If you suffer from allergies within the walls of your home, it’s time to find out exactly what’s making your nose tickle. Visit an allergist to pinpoint your allergens, and then you can start eliminating them. For example, if you find out you’re allergic to you cats, sealing the windows shut isn’t going to help.
Rethink the flooring
Many people have been under the impression that removing carpeting from their home will improve the allergy symptoms. However, this is quite the opposite. Carpeting has a unique ability to capture allergens, holding them out of your breathable airspace in the carpeting until vacuuming extracts the allergens from the flooring. Hardwoods, which is thought to be a better alternative, has no ability to capture allergens.
In fact, as you walk on your hardwoods, the allergens resting on the hard surface get released into the air, causing the allergens to travel into your breathable airspace – thus actually creating a less allergy friendly home. Got wall-to-wall carpet? Vacuum, and have them cleaned AT LEAST every 6 months by a professional carpet cleaning company using anti-allergy treatments. The results will speak for themselves and you will enjoy a allergy friendly.
Adopt a no-shoes policy
If your allergies stem from the great outdoors, keep them, well, outdoors. Make your home a no-shoes area to limit the amount of pollutants tracked in from outside. It’s also helpful to place mats outside and inside each entrance, offering another way to trap allergens before they end up aggravating you.
Call a pro
You keep your house clean, but eliminating allergens requires cleanliness on another level. Call a trained, licensed professional to provide allergen-specific cleaning for your carpets, furniture and mattresses. To avoid biological contamination, make sure the cleaning service uses natural, chemical-free, organic cleaning products.
Let the house air out
Keeping yourself cooped up with possible allergens isn’t going to keep the sneezing at bay. To ventilate your home better, install and use exhaust fans vented to the outdoors. This is particularly important in kitchens and bathrooms, and for clothes dryers. This helps eliminate moisture build-up in your home and reduce levels of organic pollutants vaporizing from hot water use.
Vent the attic
If your roof isn’t ventilating properly, you might be sneezing more than you’d like. Talk with a roofing contractor to make sure your roof is ventilating properly. If you have an attic, keep humidity levels below 50 percent to prevent water condensation.
Clean and change humidifiers
That humidifier you’re using to feel better could actually be doing you a disservice.
“Because these humidifiers can become breeding grounds for biological contaminants, they have the potential for causing diseases such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever,” advises Pure Clean of Seattle. “Evaporation trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers and refrigerators should also be cleaned frequently.”
Clean up water – quickly
Water damage isn’t just unsightly; it can also present a health risk. Water-damaged carpets and building materials can harbor mold and bacteria. If you have water damage to any area of your home, call a qualified professional to ensure it’s remedied quickly and properly.
Stick to a schedule
No one wants a chore chart, but a regular cleaning schedule can help you keep your home free of dust mites, pollens, animal dander and other allergens. Have your carpets and furniture professionally cleaned at least twice a year using a natural, organic method. Regularly wash your bedding in hot water and avoid heavy furnishing (like drapes) that may accumulate dust. If you have severe allergies, leave the cleaning to someone else. Cleaning causes (temporary) airborne allergens which could make your allergies worse.
Don’t forget the basement
Whether finished or unfinished, your basement could be adding to your allergy woes. Clean and disinfect your basement floor drain regularly. Do not finish an unfinished basement below ground level unless all water leaks are patched and outdoor ventilation and adequate heat are provided. Keep humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent in the basement at all times.