With allergy season in full effect, you may be suffering from severe allergy symptoms. Over 50 million Americans struggle with allergy symptoms ranging from a runny nose and itchy eyes to more severe symptoms like having trouble breathing or a tight chest that might require medical assistance. You may think that you have to limit your outdoor exposure because of all the pollen, but the inside of your home also has some unwanted guests like mold, pet dander, and dust mites.
Understanding the source of you and your family’s allergy symptoms and maintaining a tidy home environment is a step in the right direction in allergy-proofing your home. The tasks to take care of your health and home can be overwhelming if you’re unsure of what to do so we’ve created a guideline to help limit your exposure to allergens inside of your home.
Your kitchen is home to all of your food and contains a ton of moisture because of the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator. Indoor allergens like mold are constantly floating in the air and can get worse when they attach to wet surfaces. Below are a few cleaning hacks to help keep mold from growing in those moist areas of your kitchen.
Clean Your Refrigerator
Your fridge is susceptible to moisture build-up, which makes it a playground for mold growth. The Spruce recommends you should deep clean your fridge by emptying all the food, shelves, and bins every three months. Start by disposing of any food that is expired and wipe down the shelves and drawers with a vinegar and water solution.
One way to minimize the moisture in your fridge would be to place a desiccant dehumidifier to help absorb the moisture. Fridge dehumidifiers contain minerals that absorb moisture and remove ethylene gas build-up from fruits and vegetables, as well as odors.
Wash Dishes Daily
Washing your dishes daily will reduce mold and food build-up in your sink. You should regularly treat your kitchen sink drain with vinegar and baking soda solution to help prevent mold build-up in your drain and pipes. Under your sink is also a playfield for mold to thrive in, so you should frequently clean up under there and always look to see if any leaks are present.
Disinfect Cabinets and Countertops
Frequently spraying and wiping down your cabinets and countertops is key to eliminating allergens in your kitchen. At least once a day you should do this to remove any food crumbs and minimize the chance of mold growth.
Since the kitchen is where you store your food, we recommend using eco-friendly cleaners and detergents to avoid bringing harmful chemicals near your food. If you are an allergy-prone individual or have asthma, cleaners that have harsh odors could lead to an allergic reaction. If this is you, try using a vinegar and salt solution to wipe down your countertops.
Your living room is probably the place where you gather with your friends and family most. The last thing you want to deal with while watching your favorite movie is how itchy your eyes and nose are. With how much time you spend in your living room, you want to make sure you thoroughly clean this part of your home.
Clean Your Floors
Even if you are a clean freak, outdoors allergens can easily enter your home via your shoes or your pet’s paws. There’s a good chance that your carpet or area rug is home to dust that floats into the air every time someone walks on your floors.
If you have hardwood or tile floors, then you should sweep and mop frequently. The most efficient way to clean your hardwood floors will be to determine if they are sealed or not. Knowing this will help you find the best way to clean them! If your floors are unsealed, using water to clean them can actually be harmful and cause your hardwood to swell and warp. If you mostly have carpet or a lot of area rugs, then you should vacuum weekly with a cleaner that has a small-particle or HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle) filter.
Check and Change Filters
Making sure your home is ventilated correctly is key in reducing allergens from the air. The typical paper air filter used in your air conditioner is crafted to trap large dust particles that can accumulate on the motor and fans over time. But particles like bacteria and mold are a lot smaller and harder to trap with the average filter, which means they are easily circulated back in your ductwork and blown back into the air you breathe.
Depending on which type of filter you use will affect how frequently it needs to be changed. Fiberglass filters are cheap but they need to be replaced about every 30 days. Pleated air filters are typically made of higher quality materials and can last about three to six months, but each filter will have more detailed instructions on how often you should change it.
Dust, Dust, and Dust Everything
To limit dust build-up, you should dust commonly used areas such as your living room and bedroom and the furniture and electronics within those rooms. You’ll also want to dust the hard-to-reach places like baseboards, fan blades, window panes, and door frames. Using a dusting tool or a microfiber cloth with some cleaner will be the most efficient way to avoid spreading the dust back into your air.
Your bed is probably one of your favorite places to relax and unwind, but unfortunately it’s also dust mites’ favorite place. When we sleep we shed a ton of dead skin cells, which dust mites love to feast on. These microscopic bugs love to snuggle up in your bed and leave feces in your mattress, which can lead to skin rashes, congestion, and sneezing. That is why it is so important that you don’t cut corners on cleaning your bedroom.
Wash Bedding and Sheets Regularly
Your bedding, sheets, and decorative pillows are a favorited place for these pesky dust mites. Shockingly enough, we spend about 33 years or 12,045 days in our beds, which is why maintaining a regular cleaning schedule for your bedding and sheets is essential in minimizing exposure to dust mites. Just adding dust-proof or allergen blocking covers will help keep your bed dust mite free. In addition, you should wash your bedding and sheets every week with hot water.
Replace Your Old Mattress
According to Ohio State University, the average bed can host anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites. If you’ve had your mattress for more than 8 to 10 years then you’ve probably accumulated a significant amount of dust mites that could be the reason you’re experiencing difficulty breathing, chest tightness, or trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath. Not only will upgrading your mattress help you if you struggle with asthma or severe allergies, but it will also improve your overall sleeping environment.
Spruce Up Your Curtains and Blinds
Not only do dust mites and other allergens live in your bed, but they also can be found cozied up in your curtains and blinds, so do yourself a favor and clean them regularly. About twice a month, lightly vacuum both sides of your curtains or drapes using a vacuum brush attachment.
If you don’t have a vacuum with attachment brushes, then a hairdryer will work just fine. It will help remove dust from dainty fabrics, but be sure to vacuum after so you don’t just blow the dust around your bedroom. For your blinds, you can just use a duster such as a Swiffer or a dust rag to collect the dust build-up between your blind panels and window panes.
Another way to reduce allergens in your bedroom is by placing air purifiers in all of your bedrooms to help routinely filter out airborne allergens that can clinch on to your curtains and other fabrics in your bedroom. You can even add-in essential oils such as lavender or peppermint to help you sleep better at night!
Giving your bathroom a good deep clean can be an intimidating task, but it’s an essential one. Your bathroom is where mold thrives because moisture can easily build up. To make sure you’re properly allergy-proofing your home, sanitizing and disinfecting your showers, tubs, toilets, and sinks frequently are crucial.
Disinfect Sinks, Showers, and Tubs
Every week you should scrub your tubs, showers, and sinks with bleach or some type of bathroom cleaner. If you don’t care for the harsh smell that comes with bleach, you can make a more natural cleaner by combining baking soda, castile soap, and essential oils. It is just as effective in removing mold, soap scum, and dirt.
Another good tip is to always wipe up condensation or access water that happens after showering or washing your hands.
Wash Bath Mats and Shower Curtains
Whenever your dedicated day for laundry is, don’t forget about your bath mats and shower curtains. Your bath mats not only collect dust and dirt, but they can accumulate mold because they soak up moisture and water after you step out of the shower or tub. Purchase bath mats that are machine washable so you can maintain a regular bi-weekly wash without destroying them. For your shower curtain and plastic liner, you’ll want to throw them in the washer by combining water with either baking soda, vinegar, or gentle laundry detergent.
Scrub Your Toilet
Regularly scrub your toilet by removing mold from plumbing fixtures in your home with bleach or toilet cleaner. This is also a good time to check for any plumbing leaks because unaware water spills can lead to mold.
And while you might enjoy a nice fragrance in your bathroom, plug-ins and air fresheners can be another leading cause of allergy symptoms.
Fur babies are a major part of any family, so that is why it’s important to minimize their exposure to allergens as well. You may want to take extra preventive measures in allergy-proofing your home because your pets bring in additional allergens. After all, they shed fur and dander.
Brush Their Fur
Fur and dander are a major element of dust, so that is why you should frequently brush out any shedding hair to help clear away allergens from your home. Additionally, you may want to keep a few lint rollers around your house to help remove pesky and itchy fur and dander from your furniture and clothes.
Give Your Fur Baby a Bath
Your pet’s length of hair, their activity level, and if they have any skin conditions will determine how often you should bathe them. Wendy Weinand, manager of pet service grooming education for Petco, recommends a good rule of thumb is to wash your dog every four weeks, but you can judge if your pet needs a bath sooner than that. If you have a cat you’ll want to wash and blow-dry them every four to six weeks to properly maintain their fur coat.
When washing your pets, you’ll want to use warm water and a pet-safe shampoo. If your pet is allergy-prone or has sensitive skin, there are a variety of hypoallergenic shampoos and conditioners available for your pets.
Wash Their Toys
Your pet’s toys can bring in indoor and outdoor allergens so it’s imperative that you wash their toys often. Before washing each toy, look at the tag for washing instructions because some toys may not be dishwasher safe or machine washable. You also never want to use harsh chemicals when washing their toys since they typically go inside their mouths and some chemicals can be very harmful.
Why Allergy-Proofing Your Home is Important
Not only will allergy-proofing your home help minimize typical allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, congestions, runny nose, etc, it will also prevent mold growth throughout your home. Mold is a fairly common issue in the average household and if it goes untreated it can worsen your allergy symptoms.
Something to also take into consideration is that your home insurance policy may protect you from mold issues if it is due to a covered peril, such as a burst pipe, but for the most part, mold is typically not covered by the standard home insurance policy. Especially if the mold growth happened due to neglect.
Staying on top of allergy prevention in your home is crucial because we are exposed to allergies just about every day. Neglecting to clean areas around your home can be problematic for you and your family’s allergy symptoms, so it’s important to pay attention to how exposure to allergens may be affecting you or a loved one.
If you have questions on when mold is covered by your insurance policy or if you’re interested in shopping for a new home insurance policy, contact an agent from TGS Insurance! Our team will help find you a policy that fits your needs and budget by comparison shopping through our bank of over 35 highly-rated insurance providers. Our customer service team will take care of everything from start to finish, so you can have a stress-free buying experience. Great coverage and a low rate is not something you should have to compromise on, and with TGS Insurance, you can have both!
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