Allergens like house dust mite droppings, pet dander and mould spores lurk in dust and dirt, so be sure to target them in your annual spring cleaning project. Try out the suggestions on this list of ways to reduce your allergy symptoms today.
Declutter. Ornaments, old newspapers, unused or broken appliances, unwanted furniture – they all collect dust. Do a little at a time, go through each room, and aim to get surfaces clear so they can be dusted quickly and easily. If an object isn't useful, beautiful or of real sentimental value, get rid of it.
Dust like a professional. Never use a feather duster, as all it does is stir up the dust and make it airborne. Invest in some good quality dusters and use them slightly damp. Another option is an electrostatic dust cloth which will attract the dust to its surface so it is properly removed.
Wash your pet with allergy friendly pet shampoo. Proteins found in the sweat and saliva of cats and dogs act as potent allergens that readily become airborne on microscopic flakes of their skin. Reduce the load of pet dander in the house by washing (not showering) your pet weekly, using a special allergy friendly pet shampoo such as PET+. If your pet does not like getting wet, you should make it fun and give him a treat afterwards. And, during the spring cleaning project, clean up any upholstery your pet has made a bed on with an allergy friendly dust spray such as the award winning ADMS from Allersearch.
Tackle mould. Check your bathroom and any unheated rooms – particularly cellars or conservatories – for patches of mould. It may be black, but it comes in other colours as well – such as pink, grey, green and even white (depending on the species). Mould releases spores which can cause very severe allergic symptoms. The old fashioned way of treating mould is with white spirit or surgical spirit, or a mixture of two to one water and bleach. For a more long-lasting and thorough job, use the specially designed Allermold Mould Spray, it will destroy the mould naturally and help prevent it from growing back. Complete your efforts with the purchase of a new shower curtain (or replace it with a screen).
Invest in a new leakage free allergy vacuum. Don't assume that vacuuming a carpet or other soft furnishings will automatically remove allergen-laden dust. It may in fact make things worse by stirring up the dust and making it airborne. You need one that sucks in, and keeps in - i.e. a leakage free allergy vacuum cleaner. Yes, there are vacuum cleaners specially targeting the allergy market – but check to see if they have been properly tested for this purpose by a knowledgeable and independent body. Just because an allergy related charity put its approval on it doesn't necessarily mean that it has been properly tested and actually works, it only means that the manufacturer paid the charity to recommend it.
Check your paint and DIY products. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are molecules that are added to paints, varnishes and stains to improve their properties. Unfortunately, being volatile, they readily evaporate from the product into the air, where they may trigger very strong allergy symptoms or reactions from people with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities), particularly if ventilation is poor. The industry has brought in new legislation to minimise the content of VOCs in paint and other DIY products. Products should now be labelled 'VOC 2010 compliant' - so check this out! And if you're considering using old paint stocks to touch up, at least make sure the area is well-ventilated to protect yourself and others from its VOC content. If you have to move in before the paint smells are gone, consider using an air purifier such as the IQAir GC VOC, it is guranteed to capture and retain harmful paint chemicals.
Repair holes. Check your home inside and out for cracks, holes, and loose or faulty window fittings. These could be making your home damp, which encourages the growth of mould and house dust mite.
Improve ventilation. Modern homes tend to be too 'air tight' which encourages the build-up of indoor pollution. Consider sleeping with the bedroom window slightly open. If you have asthma, cold air may trigger symptoms so air the room in the afternoon instead. If you have a pollen allergy, keep windows closed at night and air the room in the afternoon when the pollen count is lowest. Purchase an allergy air purifier (a lot of air purifiers are too small or are ineffective in cleaning the air), you will have it for years to come and it will help you to sleep better throughout the different seasons. Windows in the bathroom and kitchen should be opened after bathing or showering, or during cooking.
Replace your carpet. A carpet is an ideal reservoir for allergen-laden dust and vacuuming might just stir it all up. Children may well come into direct contact with these if they play on the floor. Replacing carpet with a hard floor removes this major source of allergens from your home and is easier to keep free of dust. Laminated or solid wood, vinyl, or linoleum are popular hard floor options, the choice depends on the room.
Replace your bedding. If you are buying new bed linen, remember that the bed is home to the house dust mite and therefore a danger zone to a person with asthma. Anti-mite barrier covers can be purchased to enclose the mattress and pillows, to prevent contact between the person and house dust mite allergen. Look for covers made of a microporous material, rather than plastic – the latter are very uncomfortable. As far as the bedding itself is concerned, a weekly wash withAllergen Wash Laundry Detergent will keep down the house dust mite load.
Clear out old books and papers. Paper absorbs moisture and encourages the growth of mildew, which is a film of mould with a whitish or black colour. Mildew has a characteristic mouldy smell and will give off spores into the air, which could trigger your allergy symptoms. The best approach is to have a regular clear out of old books and papers from your home office and living room.
What is the best way to go about controlling house dust mite allergens? We know that bedding and clothing are one of the main places that harbour house dust mite allergens. Laundering such items may help reduce allergen burden, but only if the mites and their remains are properly removed during the laundering.
A new study suggesting that certain hay fever medications, like Piriton and Benadryl, may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease in older people. The findings will have caused great concern among those who suffer with hay fever who rely on medications for relief of their allergy symptoms, like runny nose and eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing.