Last updated on August 27th, 2021 at 02:32 pm
If you or any member of your family is sensitive to dust and other allergens, you may be wondering if there’s a way to keep the coughing, sneezing, and wheezing to a minimum. While you may never have a home free of dust, there are changes you can make to limit its impact and make home life more enjoyable. Consider doing any (or all) of the things below, and you may just notice a difference.
8 Smart Changes for a Healthy Home
Upgrade and Replace Your Air Filters
Since most HVAC units seem to work well without much help, many people forget to maintain them. However, changing your air filter at least every 60 to 90 days is imperative if you’re sensitive to dust and irritating microscopic particles.
The higher the MERV rating of your air filters, the more effectively they can trap allergens that lead to episodes of sneezing, coughing, and running eyes. The best allergen-trapping filters have a MERV rating of at least 13, which may help keep your allergies at bay.
With a value of 13, your chosen filter can trap a minimum of 90% of 1.0 to 3.0-micron particles and 3.0 to 10.0-micron particles. They are also suitable for filtering out bacteria, tobacco smoke, and droplet nuclei, which are airborne droplets from sneezes.
The lower the MERV rating of your air filter, the lower the percentage of the aforementioned micron particles it can filter out. The US Department of Energy recommends an air filter of MERV 13 or higher, while the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers recommends MERV 6 or higher.
If you’re not sure that you’ll remember to replace your air filter often, set a reminder on your computer or mobile phone. Getting into the habit of regular air filter replacement may benefit your family more than you might think.
Be Careful With Flooring Choices
As warm and comfortable as carpet and rugs can be underfoot, they can also be harboring dust, pet dander, and more. The denser the carpet, the deeper those allergens can go.
Consider the benefits for your health and the cleaning convenience of engineered wood flooring or similar options. They look good, are easy to clean, and are non-porous to prevent any allergens from taking up permanent residence.
However, if you aren’t planning on any significant renovations just yet, there are things you can do to reduce the volume of allergens lurking in your carpets. Clean them with a vacuum cleaner featuring a HEPA filter, or install double-thickness bags.
If you use regular paper bag filters, you may be allowing the allergens you just vacuumed to be released back into the air.
Be Smart With Upholstery
If you have been thinking about upgrading your living room furniture, now would be the perfect time to ponder the upholstery type to keep allergens at bay. Fabric is wonderfully warm and plush, but its porous nature means it’s a paradise for dust and dander while not being particularly easy to clean.
By purchasing faux and real leather furniture, you’ll enjoy easy-to-clean surfaces that don’t allow any allergens to penetrate. However, if you still have your heart set on fabric, choose furniture with legs that will enable easy vacuuming, and remember to clean your furniture often.
Clean Up Clutter
Starting to declutter your home sooner rather than later is best when it comes to dealing with allergens. The more furniture and possessions you own, the more opportunities allergens have to accumulate in your home.
Keep surfaces as free from clutter as possible, and avoid crowding furniture. You may also want to purchase toy boxes to keep your children’s toys dust-free. If you have any special ornaments on display, consider purchasing display boxes, or store them in almost-airtight cabinets to prevent dust from taking over.
Change Your Curtains and Window Coverings
As beautiful and functional as thick, heavy curtains can be, they can also be havens for dust and other allergens. When you are considering décor change, don’t neglect your window coverings.
There are plenty of washable and easy-to-clean curtain types available that can fit in with your home décor and don’t collect dust as easily as more traditional varieties.
Pay Attention to Your Bed
Washing sheets and pillows every week can help with allergen reduction, but there is more you can do. Consider investing in allergen-proof covers for your pillows and even mattresses that feature hypoallergenic materials.
You can also vacuum your mattress with your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment and keep it encased in an allergen-proof zipper cover.
For those particularly sensitive members of your family, consider purchasing new sheets. There are a number of allergy-friendly bedding types now on the market, such as silk, Tencel, bamboo, and cotton.
While higher priced than other sheet varieties, silk is ideal for soothing sensitive skin and fighting off allergies. Silkworms spin silk to protect them from predators, including dust mites. You and your mattress may naturally benefit from this form of protection.
A more affordable option is bamboo, which reduces moisture and also helps reduce the spread of dust mites. Some homeowners may also want to explore their Tencel sheet options. These sheets feature wood cellulose from eucalyptus trees and are soft and durable.
Tencel sheets tend to be one of the most expensive options on the market. However, many people prefer them for their ability to wick away moisture and stop allergens in their tracks.
Renovate Your Bathroom
While a MERV 13 air filter can significantly reduce the volume of irritating allergens in your home, there’s one room in your house that can also help: your bathroom. The bathroom is a paradise for mold and mildew, so making a few changes in this space may be worth your while.
If your bathroom has carpet, replace it with hardwood, tile, or vinyl. These materials are much easier to clean and do not harbor allergens. You may also want to replace wallpaper with a mold-resistant paint or tile and install exhaust fans to assist with moisture removal.
Changing your cleaning habits in the bathroom could also help reduce allergens in your home. Wash any shower curtains and bath mats often, and replace them if they show any signs of mold growth. Drying out your shower or bath after each use may also assist with making sure mold doesn’t have a chance to take hold.
Don’t Neglect Your Kitchen
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a number of insects make their way into homes year-round and trigger allergy and asthma. Many of them are attracted to food in the kitchen, which means focusing on this area of your home is worthwhile.
Always clean up food crumbs after meals, and plug cracks that insects could be using as an entry point into your home. Make sure trash is emptied daily, or invest in trash cans with insect-proof lids.
Some of the most common insects in kitchens are dust mites and cockroaches. The waste of both of these insects can trigger symptoms like rashes, hives, itching, shortness of breath, dizziness, and even toxic reactions and serum sickness.
Allergens like dust will always find a way to enter your home, and there’s simply no way to stop it completely. However, with a few minor changes like clearing clutter and replacing your air filters, you may be able to significantly reduce their impact on family members with allergies.