Most people think of their home as a place where they can escape the watery eyes, stuffy nose, and sneezing that follows them for the rest of the day due to their allergies. The truth is that your home harbors many of the allergens that you are trying to escape from. A recent nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust, mold, and pet dander.
Thankfully though, there are ways to improve your home’s defense against allergens and make you less apt to experiencing allergies. Some solutions fix the root of the issue and others focus more on ignoring the allergens in your home and improving your reaction to allergies.
1. Your air ducts
It is possible that your duct system is pulling in dust from your attic, and other areas, and distributing it throughout your home. According to ENERGY STAR, the typical home loses about 20-30% of the air flowing through the forced-air system’s ductwork. This loss is mainly because of holes or gaps around fittings or joints. These holes and gaps allow dust into the system which then blows into your conditioned areas.
An easy way to test this in your home is to look at the vent covers. If it looks dusty, your ducts may be the problem.
Sealing your air duct system will lower your bill and reduce the amount of dust in your home.
2. Allergens in your sleeping area
You can also reduce the presence of dust in your bed by using allergen-proof encasings for pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Taping over the zippers will help prevent leaks that allow them to spread.
Placing beds away from air vents and air circulation is another helpful and easy way to minimize one’s experience of allergies.
3. Your HVAC filters
You should be changing your filters every 2-4 months. If dust in your home is a significant issue then changing the filters can only help. If it seems like your filters never get dirty, or you only change them once in a blue moon, chances are they’re not catching the dust in your air and if the filters are filthy, air won’t pass through, and dust will simply bounce off and settle somewhere else in the house.
For the best results: invest in quality filters, change your filters regularly, stay on top of routine maintenance, and make sure you’re not skimping on filters.
4. Outside air
If you live in a hot and dry area like Phoenix, you’re probably getting a good amount of dust and allergens coming in from the outside of your home. This is a common problem in dustbowl and desert and sandy beach areas.
A good way of taking on the dust from the outdoors is finding a good balance of humidity and dryness in your home’s air. Dry air can mean more dust and often times dust is a sign of dry air.
Because grasses, weeds, and trees typically pollinate in the early morning it is especially helpful to keep windows closed around that time and sleep with them closed.
5. Your furniture
When choosing furnishings, if you’re sensitive to allergens, it’s best to go with wood, leather, vinyl, or rubberized canvas furniture and avoid upholstered pieces. Upholstery easily traps allergens and is much harder to clean. You might try washable slipcovers on existing upholstered furniture.