Some of the same allergens found outside can also invade the home, including mold spores, pollen and even air pollution. Additional types of household allergens include pet dander, cigarette smoke particles, dust mites and dust, as well as billions of microscopic particles floating around in the air. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to remove or reduce these common household allergens.
Indoor Air Pollution
Many people assume that the air outside is worse than the air inside. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Some figures estimate that indoor air is “typically two to five times worse than the air outdoors,” and in some homes, “it can be up to 100 times worse,” according to the ‘Do Something’ organization. Reducing indoor air pollution can easily aid in reducing several household allergens, such as cigarette smoke particles, mold spores, pollen and even dust.
The EPA recommends not allowing people to smoke inside the home, as smoking can introduce more than 1,000 new chemicals and pollutants into the air in your home. Also, changing out filters regularly in both heating and cooling systems can help reduce the amount of pollen and mold spores floating around. If you’re not allergic to pollen or mold, then the simple act of opening a few windows can help cleanse the air inside the home (though it may bring in additional mold and pollen, but more on that later.)
Dust, Dust Mites & Other Indoor Allergens
Several indoor allergens can contribute to the growth of dust mite populations (and of course, dust.) For those with dust mite allergies, it’s important to control all of these areas in order to reduce the overall population.
Dust itself is not a single allergen but is in fact a population of several hundreds of thousands of different potential allergens, The most well known of these allergens being mold spores, pollen, pet dander, cigarette ash and feces of dust mites (which in fact, are generally accepted to the true cause of dust mite allergies.)
To reduce dust mite populations, it’s important to begin by dusting everywhere, and I mean, everywhere: tops of door frames, behind the refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, the corners of every room and so forth. Getting rid of the vast majority of the dust right off the bat will help significantly because you are reducing the food source for the dust mites.
Next, reduce humidity inside the home. Reducing humidity can help to control mold allergies as well as reduce dust mite populations. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends keeping indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent.
Lastly, keep the home clean: vacuum, dust and wash bedding regularly. Keeping a clean house helps to reduce dust particle build-up, which in turn reduces dust mite populations and other indoor allergens including mold and pollen.
Additional Tips for Getting Rid of Household Allergens
Make a cleaning checklist for those areas that you might forget to clean as often, such as the drapery or on top of the refrigerator. Areas that do not get cleaned as often can contribute greatly to the amount of allergens trapped in the home.
Vacuum as often as possible, especially if you have carpets in your home. Carpets collect dust, dirt, and various allergens, making them a huge allergy instigator. Vacuuming can help reduce this, which in turn can help reduce allergies.
Consider an indoor plant in some rooms. A study by NASA found that indoor plants can help reduce indoor air pollution. Plants to consider Gerbera Daisy, Bamboo Palm, Potted Mum and the Peace Lily. (If you have pets, be sure to choose only pet-safe plants and avoid toxic plants like the Potted Mum and lilies, check out the ASPCA’s searchable database on toxic and non-toxic plants for pets.)
Of course, these are just a few ways to reduce household allergens. Essentially, a long term plan of action is the best way to reduce and prevent indoor allergies.