If you're like many Canadians who suffer from allergies, try these tips for controlling four of the top household troublemakers: pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander.
Put pollen in its place: outdoors.
Pollen is one of the worst offenders. There are several ways to keep it from invading your home.
- Keep windows closed at night to keep pollen from drifting indoors.
- Hanging clothes out to dry produces a nice, fresh smell, but be cautious: Pollen can collect on items on the clothesline.
- If you've been outdoors, take a shower after you come in to remove pollen that may have collected on your skin and hair.
- Start with your yard. One that's free of troublesome weeds such as nettle, dock, and ragweed can help reduce the amount of pollen that gets into your home.
Don't let mold take hold.
Indoor mold, or fungus, feeds on dampness and humidity.
- Clean your bathroom tubs, shower stalls and curtains, and windowsills monthly with a disinfectant to kill mold and mildew.
- Use a dehumidifier during humid weather. If you can keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent, molds have less opportunity to thrive.
- Remove carpeting from concrete floors, especially the basement.
- Repair areas that may be water-damagedroofs, basements, sinks, and pipes.
- Check your dryer vent to make sure it's sending moist air outdoors.
- Install exhaust fans, limit houseplants, use air purifiers, and get rid of old wallpaper.
Try mighty solutions to dust mite problems.
These small insects are visible only by microscope. Yet their droppings (not the insects themselves) can create a huge allergy problem year-round.
- Wash beddingincluding the mattress and pillow coversin hot water every two weeks.
- Remove as much humidity as possible from your home; dust mites thrive on moisture levels greater than 50 percent.
- Steam-clean rugs and carpets, because dry vacuuming doesn't pick up dust mites. The heat of the steam kills the dust mites while cleaning the carpet.
- Best solution: Cover your mattress, box springs, and pillows with allergen-proof covers (and wash regularly).
Life is dandier without dander.
We love our pets, but we don't love the allergies that can be associated with their dander (small scales from the skin or fur of an animal).
- If you don't want to keep your pet outdoors, consider at least keeping it out of your bedroom, where you spend at least a third of your day.
- Cat allergens can be the worst offenders. If you'd rather avoid medications, and don't want to live without your feline friend, wash your pet's bedding often. Also, frequently vacuum living spaces where the animal likes to hang out.
- Try dander-retardant products to treat your pet's coat.
- Bathe your pet regularly.