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Your home is your sanctuary, shelter, and peaceful retreat after work or school. But if you have allergies, your home can become your greatest nightmare. It can be a challenge to keep dust mites, pet dander, mold, and pollen at bay, but here are some suggestions to start creating and maintaining an allergy free home.
You can literally stop a great percentage of allergens at the front door by taking off your shoes before you enter. Don't want to go barefoot around the house? Assign a pair of shoes for indoor use only. As a "no shoes" policy can make some visitors uncomfortable, provide a good quality doormat upon which people can wipe their shoes before entering your home.
Give your home a hypoallergenic makeover. Consider ditching your upholstered, overstuffed furniture for pieces that can be easily wiped clean. Remove wall-to-wall carpeting, rugs that can't be laundered, and horizontally slatted blinds. These trap lots of dust, dust mites and other allergens. Can't tear up the carpets? Clean them twice weekly with a HEPA-filtrated vacuum. Keep dust mites out of your beds and pillows with impermeable allergy casings. Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
Don't forget to clean heating, air conditioning, and ventilation ducts yearly and filters as needed. Installing HEPA filtration can trap small, airborne allergens like pollen and pet dander. Help combat dust mites with a dehumidifier; these annoying creatures cannot thrive in air that is drier than 50-percent humidity. Use of a dehumidifier can discourage the growth of molds as well.
When cleaning, avoid commercial products, especially sprays. Many commercial cleaning products contain artificial fragrances and harsh chemicals that can inflame allergies. Give natural products a try, or make your own.
If you have pets, let a non-allergic member of your household be responsible for their grooming. Keep the pets off the furniture, out of bedrooms, and outside as much as possible to reduce the amount of dander that settles into your house.
They are beautiful to look at, but houseplants can harbor mold in their soil. Remove or limit the number of houseplants you keep. Mold can also grow in standing water in your plants' drainage trays and in your dehumidifier, so empty those frequently. Further discourage mold growth by keeping your bathrooms, kitchen, and basement dry and well ventilated.
Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible, and use your air conditioner instead of a fan, which blows dust around during allergy season. While it might be tempting to open the windows on a beautiful spring day, you'll be opening your home to all the pollen and mold in the neighborhood.
Putting the hammer down on mold, pet dander, dust mites and other allergens in your dwelling can be daunting, but it can be done. With these suggestions and some compromises, you'll be well on your way toward an allergy free home.
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WebMD: "Allergy Proofing Your Environment" http://www.webmd.com/allergies/household-allergens-5/allergy-free-home
WebMD: " Shopping Tips for an Allergy-Free Home" http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/shopping-tips-allergy-free-home?page=2&print=true
MayoClinic.com: "Allergy-proof your house" http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/allergy/HQ01514
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Photos courtesy of morguefile.com