Allergy-Proofing Your Home, Room by Room

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By Vanessa Brunner


For many allergy sufferers, summer means more than sunshine and flowers -- it's the thick of the inevitable hay fever season. Anyone who has allergies knows how uncomfortable this time of year can be and how important it is to have a safe place to retreat to.

You can make your home clearer of seasonal allergens, dust and mold by developing a consistent routine. Cleaning out clutter, locating problem zones and sticking to certain materials can also help make your home a haven from pollen. Read on to learn the best ways to eliminate allergens from your home, room by room.

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Allergy-Proofing Your Home, Room by Room

• Choose easy-to-clean furniture — avoid too much upholstery.
• Use washable curtains and replace horizontal blinds with washable roller shades.
• Keep potted plants and flowers outside. If mold sensitivity is a problem, consider putting aquarium gravel over the dirt to contain mold growth.
• Avoid wood-burning fireplaces or stoves — smoke is a harsh irritant. Natural-gas fireplaces should be fine.
• Clear out clutter — kickknacks and piles of magazines and newspapers collect dust quickly.

• Use a vented exhaust fan over your stove to completely remove cooking fumes from your kitchen.
• Scrub sinks, faucets, refrigerator trays and door seals to remove mold.
• Keep under-sink cabinets and countertops clean and dry.
• Use a disinfecting cleaner to kill mildew.
• Get a secure trash bin, and empty it regularly to keep insects away. Cockroaches are a common cause of indoor allergy symptoms and asthma — yet another reason to keep them out of the house.

• Wash bedding in hot water at least once a week to kill dust mites. These critters love dead skin cells, and hot water is the best way to get rid of them.
• Buy dust mite covers for pillows, mattresses and box springs.
• Use synthetic materials for bedding -- they're less likely to carry allergens and cause reactions. Stay away from goose down.
• If carpeting is a must, opt for low-pile carpeting, which is less likely to attract dust, mites and other allergens.
• Do your best to keep pets out of the bedroom, especially during allergy season.

• Make sure your exhaust fan is working correctly, and run it after every shower or bath to remove excess moisture.
• Remove any wallpaper, and install tile or a mold-resistant paint.
• Dry the tub and shower after each use, and scrub with bleach regularly.
• Get rid of any moldy bath mats or shower curtains.

• Brush or wash any pets at least once a week to get rid of dander.
• Close windows during pollen season -- rely on air conditioning if you can.
• Choose an air filter that has a small-particle or HEPA filter. Direct one toward your face while you sleep to guarantee a full night's rest.
• Keep your home's temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 50 percent. Anything higher will create a breeding ground for dust mites and mold.
• Take a shower right after doing any work outside to avoid spreading allergens and pollens inside.

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