Sadly, fall allergy season officially kicks off on August 15th. With it brings sneezing, sniffling, coughing, wheezing, and a trip to the store to stock up on supplies. But there is a way to cut down on your allergy flare ups, especially in the home. Here are 8 pesky hidden allergens in the home and how to combat them.
8 Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home
For my family, two out of the three of us at home suffer from seasonal and common allergies. Thanks to doing plenty of online research, I’ve learned about the most common places allergens can hide and how to get rid of them before the severeness kicks in.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Toys
There’s nothing like a fluffy, squishy toy to grab and cuddle, especially when you’re a child. Strike that, it’s fun no matter how old you are. When it comes to allergens in the home, however, plushies are one of the top places to find them. They’re a magnet for dust, dust mites, and everything else that floats in the air and lands on them. To combat this, wash toys that are constant companions weekly and those that sit on a shelf monthly by hand or in a washing machine.
To make sure all goes well with the washing process, if you’re not sure how to wash stuffed animals or what type of cycle to run them on because the tag is missing, always use the delicate or hand wash to be safe.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Ceiling Fans
Many of us love the aesthetic of adding ceiling fans into our home but never use them. If that’s how you do it (I’m guilty as well), dust can collect on the blades and lighting fixture. When you so decide to turn. them on, all of that dust goes flying into the air.
Play it safe by cleaning ceiling fans every month or two. Additionally, when it’s time to switch blades directions in spring and fall, clean them as well. You can use a Swiffer with extendable pole, a dampened Magic Eraser, or a microfiber cloth soaked in dish soap.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Carpets
Depending on where you live (I’m in the Pittsburgh area), carpets can be in the center of your room or wall-to-wall. Sadly, carpets are a haven for dust, dust mites, pet dander, and pollen making them difficult to care for if you suffer from allergies.
To keep your carpet allergens at a minimum, make sure your vacuuming weekly and use a vacuum with a HEPA air filter. Additionally, to keep your carpets smelling fresh, consider steam cleaning them a few times a year. And if you must have floor coverings and suffer from allergens, washable floor rugs are your best bet.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Furnace Ducts and Filters
Each time your furnace kicks on in the fall and winter, you’re circulating the air in your home – and whatever is in your furnace filters and duct work. To keep the dust and mites at bay, replacing and cleaning your furnace’s air filters is a must. Check your filter once a month and if it looks grey with dust, replace it. It’s recommended that furnace filters be replaced every three months, at minimum.
As for the duct work, a good cleaning every three to five years from a licensed company should do the trick. The company will be able to tell you the shape of your duct work as well to let you know that you’re good to go.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Mattresses
True fact: soft surfaces have more allergens than hard ones as there are more places for dust to hide. The same goes for your mattress. Dust mites can weasel their way into teeny places and, if you’re allergic, can wreak havoc on your upper respiratory system. The best type of mattress for allergy sufferers is a latex one, for reference.
To avoid the sniffles and sneezes in bed, wash your bedding weekly (I love a fresh set of sheets!), use an allergen-proof mattress cover, and vacuum your mattress every month.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Wood Fireplaces
When it’s fireplace season in my house, add a few logs, light the fire, and I’m asleep before it even gets roaring. Many northern homes have wood fireplaces to assist with the heating bills, but they do cause an allergen kick up. There are people allergic to wood smoke, but if you have a mold allergy and there’s mold on your fireplace logs and you light them – instant allergies. Also, if the wood sits outside it can collect pollen – another big allergy trigger.
To keep your allergies at a minimum, use only dry cordwood in your fireplace. You’ll want to make sure the wood has been seasoned and kep dry for at least a year, too.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Roaches
No one likes, or wants, roaches in their home. But, they can exist even in the cleanest of dwellings. Shedding body parts, saliva, and fecal matter can all trigger an allergen response.
To keep the foul creatures at bay, keep the humidity level of your house low, keep your home clean, and target the spots where they tend to gather.
Pesky Hidden Allergens in the Home – Laundry
Unless properly laundered, things like pet dander and pollen can remain on clothes, even when washed and dried. Additionally, you may even be allergic to the laundry detergent itself (my husband is and we had to switch several times until I found one he can tolerate.)
There is a way to remove both, though: use an anti-allergen laundry detergent. Keep to the directions on the package and use with hot or cold water. And if you’re washing delicate clothing, give them a hand wash instead.