- February 2014
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If you were to take a magnifying glass and look at surfaces throughout your home, you’ll find allergens. It’s almost impossible to escape them outside a hospital quarantine clean room. Despite their presence inside and outside the house, you can keep them to a minimum and make your house as allergen free as possible.
Common Household Allergens
- Mold spores are just about anywhere you go in the world, including throughout your home. Most of the time, they lay dormant and don’t cause problems. However, if they’re on a surface that offers moisture and nutrients in a warm environment, the spores can open and begin growing. Once the mold takes hold, it will start producing a lot more mold spores.
- Pet dander can stick to just about any surface in your home. Even if you don’t have pets, friends and family who do have pets can bring dander into your home on their shoes and clothing. Pet dander has certain proteins to which some people are allergic.
- Dust seems innocent enough. However, if you look at it closely, you’ll find that it’s an accumulation of many things, including pollen, insect waste, pet dander and mold spores. Dust can settle on to any surface of the home.
High levels of allergens inside the home cause poor indoor air quality. People with allergies can suffer with symptoms like irritated eyes, a runny nose and sore throats. People with allergy-triggered asthma can suffer with labored breathing or a full-blown asthma attack.
How to Keep Allergens at Bay
Having allergens in your home is a given, unfortunately. However, you can take certain steps to cut the quantities and keep as much of it outside your home.
- Clean the house. Vacuum carpets and sweep hard floors regularly. Dust flat surfaces. This removes loose deposits of pollen, pet dander and dust from the home.
- Repair leaks. Moisture is the main trigger for mold growth. If you have a leak under the sink or tub, get it fixed. Let the surfaces surrounding dry out, then clean them with mold-killing agents like bleach.
- Replace wall to wall carpeting with hard flooring materials. Carpet fibers grab and keep the tiny allergen particles. Even daily vacuuming cannot extract them all. If you cannot replace the carpeting immediately, use a steam cleaner often.
- Upgrade the air filters. If you’re using a standard fiberglass filter, you’re likely not getting any protection against airborne particles. Go with a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 12. This will remove many of the allergen particulates. (Going higher isn’t recommended since most blowers and air handlers can’t handle the higher pressures required for moving air through higher MERV rated filters).
- Add an air cleaner to your home. An air cleaner pulls air out of your normal ducts, pressurizes it, then sends it through HEPA filtration. This captures almost all allergen particulates in the air. You can add an ultraviolet accessory to the air cleaner to kill any bacteria or germs floating around.
- Brush pets outside daily. Ideally, this should be done by a person without allergies. By doing it outside, a lot of the loosened dander gets left.
- Wash human and pet bedding in hot water. Dust mites live off dead skin cells, often in bedding where there are large deposits. Washing both pet and human bedding in hot water can kill the mites.
- Keep pollen outside by closing windows and doors. Some forms of pollen are airborne and come inside the house through any opening.
- Ventilate your attic and crawl space. Stagnant air, warm temperatures and a moist dark space are the perfect environment for mold to start growing. Make sure your attic and crawl space have good airflow to keep moisture levels down.
- Make bedrooms off-limits to pets. This gives the allergic person a place where allergen levels are lower.
- Wash pets weekly. This helps to reduce the amount of dander they scatter throughout the house.
- Keep insect populations in check. Insect debris, especially that of the cockroach or dust mite, can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in certain people. Routine pest control makes a big difference.
If you want more advice on how to keep allergens out of your home, contact Meyer’s. We’ve been serving Northwest Indiana and southern Chicagoland since 1951.
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