Allergies are NOT a state of mind!
If you are allergic to mold, dust, and pet dander, there are things that you can do to reduce the severity of your reactions and even the number of reactions. By getting rid of many allergens in places where you spend the most time, you will almost certainly find you feel healthy more of the time. This is called environmental control. It starts with being aware of the places where allergens hide. Since we spend one-third to one-half of our lives in our bedrooms, this is the place to start.
Here is a list of things you can do to make yourself healthier:
- Encase your pillow in an allergen-barrier case, or wash it every week in hot water
- Encase your mattress in an allergen barrier to reduce dust mites in your bedroom.
- Encase your box spring and comforter in an allergen barrier, or wash your comforter every week in hot water
- Wash blankets and bed linens (sheets and pillowcases) every week in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Remove bedroom carpeting if at all possible. If unable to remove carpeting:
- Clean carpeting using specialized carpet treatments that denature or deactivate allergens
- Use carpet treatments that kill dust mites. (Unless you are chemically sensitive, then please be careful about this. You may want to try just a little at first, and air out the room well).
- Get rid of upholstered furniture. If that is impossible, at least minimize the amount of this allergen-holding stuff.
- Use window shades rather than blinds or curtains. Have you ever noticed how much dust collects on blinds—even if you open and close them regularly?
- Clean carpet frequently:
- Vacuum every week wearing a face mask
- Use a HEPA vacuum for maximum allergen containment
- Use exhaust filters and multi-layer bags to upgrade your vacuum
- Clean the house at least weekly, keeping surfaces and storage areas clean and dry:
- Wipe furniture, drawers, closets and other surfaces with a cloth treated to kill dust mites and mold.
- Keep clothing in a closed closet. It’s okay to air it out when you are not home, but make sure you have good airflow in the house after you air it out.
- Get rid of dust collectors (bric-a-brac, books you don’t need, old magazines).
- Filter air in homes with forced air heating/cooling systems:
- Use a central filter in the furnace
- Cover vents with filters or close bedroom vents and use an electric heater
- Dehumidify air to levels below 50% humidity to prevent dust mite growth:
- Molds and dust mites thrive in high humidity; keep levels between 35-40%
- Use air conditioning and dehumidifier units
- Filter airborne allergens with HEPA air cleaners
RELIEF from DUST MITES in your BED
Dust mites thrive in the dark warmth of all bedding, and over one million can live in a single bed. Any stuffed bedding provides a perfect environment for dust mites and should be encased for allergy relief. For allergy relief from dust mite and pet allergens in the bed, follow these important steps:
- Cover pillows, mattresses, box spring and comforter with allergen-impermeable encasings. The encasing will act as a barrier between you and the allergens within bedding.
- Hot water wash (130 degrees, Fahrenheit) any bedding that is not encased to remove allergens. Washing should be done weekly, including hypo-allergenic bedding, which can support dust mite growth.
- Select special bedding, made with an allergen barrier material. Replace bedding with pillows and comforters made with an exterior allergen barrier material for protection against dust mine allergens.
KILLING and PREVENTING MOLD
- The ideal humidity level is 30 to 40 percent. More than this and you will probably be inviting mold. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep humidity levels down. Clean both of these regularly to keep mold from accumulating there.
- Clean bathrooms with a mold-preventing or mold-killing solution at least once a month.
- Every time you shower, use an exhaust fan or open a window to remove moisture. It’s a good idea to leave the bathroom window open most of the time if you live in an area with high humidity.
- Wipe down damp surfaces after you shower, and hang towels in an area where they will dry as quickly as possible. If your mold allergies are severe, you can even buy a towel warming rack which will dry towels faster. If you have a clothes dryer in your house, you can throw towels in there for a few minutes to speed up the drying process.
- Don’t forget the kitchen! Use an exhaust fan when you boil water so water vapor doesn’t build up in the kitchen.
- Throw away spoiled foods immediately, and take out the trash every day.
- If you have a self-defrosting refrigerator with water pans below, empty the pans frequently.
- Get rid of stored items that have gotten moldy.
- Make sure the vent for the clothes dryer doesn’t lead inside the house. Make any changes to vent the dryer outside.
- Get rid of leaves, clippings, and compost near the house.
- Don’t cut the grass or rake the leaves yourself if you are allergic to mold. If you absolutely must do these things, wear a mask specially made to prevent mold penetration.