Home is not so much of a refuge if it has allergens. The effects can distract from your daily activities. Plus, it’s a hassle having to constantly keep anti-allergy medication on hand. Here are several things you can do to get fast relief from those bothersome allergens and keep them away for good.
What Are Allergens?
Allergens are substances that when consumed by eating or inhalation cause allergic reactions in people. They tend to irritate the respiratory system and mucous membranes, causing coughing, sneezing, a runny, stuffy nose and watery, itchy eyes. They can also cause more severe symptoms such as swelling, hives or even life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Allergies can be treated and managed but not cured. They especially affect sensitive people and people who are prone to asthma, hay fever and other allergic reactions. However, they also increase the risk of illness in the average person, such as congestion or skin conditions like eczema, a form of atopic dermatitis.
Those which you are concerned with will mostly be airborne allergens — that is, the ones you most easily inhale and will have the greatest exposure to. Here are seven common household allergens in Jacksonville, FL, and how to eliminate them:
It doesn’t matter whether it’s from a cigarette, a grill, fireplace or cooking oil, smoke is an irritant and increases the risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis just by being around it.
Smoke contains carcinogens and cigarette smoke, in particular, encourages the development of autoimmune diseases. The odor remains in the home and the nicotine turns walls yellow, while the chemicals linger and continue to off-gas from the walls and furniture.
Cooking oil, too, can get to the point of smoking, especially if you have one with a low smoke point. Some people have food allergies to oils such as sesame and peanut, so even being around the smoking cooking oil of either can cause a reaction.
Do not allow smoking indoors. Use a vented exhaust fan in the kitchen and avoid wood-burning stoves or fireplaces in favor of natural gas ones. Follow temperature guidelines for cooking oils and consider those with a high smoke point, such as light olive, safflower or avocado oil.
Dirt and other indoor pollutants such as lint, hair, dead skin, spider webs and tiny bits of debris or trash accumulate and create dust. It’s easy to see and take care of a layer of dust on flat surfaces. But even if you regularly clean your home, dust bunnies can end up collecting in the spots you don’t see or reach. Corners, under furniture, and in curtains, blinds, windows, fans and air vents are places you might have dust or dust bunnies.
Clean and dust thoroughly. Rub air vents with dryer sheets and use a long duster to reach fan blades. Use washable curtains and shades.
Mold is a fungus that appears in places where there is exposure to moisture. Basements, under carpets, and leaks from plumbing or the roof can accumulate enough moisture to create mold. It’s not usually life-threatening but repeated exposure increases the severity of symptoms and also damages furniture, walls, flooring and other home structures.
If you have a problem with moisture, get a dehumidifier. Bathrooms that contain showers or bathtubs should all have exhaust fans to evaporate moisture. Cover potted plant soil with gravel to deter mold growth.
4. Pet Dander
Bits of shedded skin flakes, fur, feathers and saliva can create dander. Even short-haired pets shed fur that may cause allergies in susceptible people.
Bathe and brush pets regularly and take long-haired cats and dogs to a groomer to trim their fur. Use a natural cat litter that won’t create dust. Rehome your pets if you still cannot handle them without severe symptoms.
Dust mites, cockroaches, rats, and mice all shed skin and droppings. Dust mites are the most common culprit, leaving their debris in bedding, carpets, rugs, furniture, toys, curtains and blinds. They cause skin rashes and thrive in humidity levels over 50%.
Other pests increase when there’s trash or bits of food around, so don’t leave out dirty dishes or open trash bins. Wash bedding regularly in hot water and use zippered mattress and pillow covers to prevent mites from entering. Use bedding filled with synthetic materials rather than wool or feathers.
One of the most common allergens in the United States, pollen is a very fine powder from plants that easily gets onto surfaces when spread. Not only can pollen be tracked indoors, but open windows can allow wind to blow it inside.
Keep windows closed during high-pollen season. If you need to open windows for ventilation, install a pollen and dust-filtering window screen. Have people remove shoes as soon as they enter your home.
Many cleaning and personal care products and common household items contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are chemicals with high vapor pressure and low boiling point, easily evaporating into the air. Your greatest exposure to them is upon their application or opening (for example, a new mattress) and the first couple of months afterward, after which they’ll continue to off-gas in smaller amounts.
Consider low and no-VOC products and natural alternatives to chemicals. Air out new foam mattresses by vacuuming them and leaving them in the sun or near a window for several hours. Replace wallpaper with tile or use mold-resistant enamel paint.
Other Tips to Allergy-Proof Your Home
- Replace carpets with hard floors such as laminate, wood or tile with washable throw rugs.
- If you must have carpet, choose low-pile to avoid trapping allergens. This will make it easier for you to clean.
- Get small-particle filters for your vacuum to trap allergens and make for a thorough cleaning.
- Get easy to clean furniture such as metal, plastic, wood or leather. Avoid upholstery.
- Air purifiers can also trap allergens and can be for the whole home or single rooms.
- Change your air filters regularly, usually once a month.
Does Your Home Pass Professional Air Quality Testing?
As you can see, any number of things can be allergens and wreak havoc on your home life. Air quality is especially important because you inhale any allergens present in the environment. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to eliminate allergens from your home’s air.
If you’ve taken the above steps and are still experiencing effects from airborne allergens, contact McGowan’s Heating & Air Conditioning today for indoor air quality testing, air purification and more. We have the technology to quickly pinpoint the problem and many options of how to solve it. Our professionals deliver the best services from the Georgia border to Daytona Beach, FL, including heating and cooling repair, installation and maintenance, duct cleaning, attic insulation, HVAC design, mobile home options and 24/7 emergency service. Contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment.