How to Reduce Indoor Allergens
A lot of people with allergies think that if they just stay indoors when the pollen counts are high, they can keep their spring allergy symptoms under control. But indoor allergens, particularly dust, can also cause nasal allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose, and itchy, watery eyes.1
That’s why it’s a good idea to give your home a thorough, dust-busting spring cleaning once the weather gets warmer. Indoor allergens typically include triggers like dust mites, mold, and pet dander, which tend to collect and thrive in the home—however it can also include pollen and all types of outdoor allergens that are tracked in from outside. These often settle onto furniture and floor surfaces.
But before you get out your dust mop, stop and review our “clean smarter” tips for clearing the air. Because if you don’t clean the right way, you run the risk of making your dust allergy worse.1
1. DOUBLE-DOORMATS KEEP ALLERGENS OUT
Did you know that around 85% of the contaminants in your home—including pollen and other allergens—can be found within 10 feet of the exterior doors? To keep outdoor allergens from becoming indoor allergens, put doormats by every door, both inside and outside. The outside doormat captures the first layer of dirt; the indoor mat grabs what’s left behind. Be sure to shake out both mats twice a week.3
2. WORK FROM TOP TO BOTTOM TO TRAP DUST
As you clean each room, start at the top and work down. Begin, for example, with the highest shelves in the room. This top-down technique helps to capture any dust that escapes from your dustcloth as you’re working your way down shelves, wall-hanging frames, and furniture.3
3. DUST FIRST, VACUUM LAST
The last thing you want to do when you’re cleaning is scatter dust around instead of removing it from surfaces. That’s why it’s best to dust before you vacuum so any dust that falls on the floor can get picked up with the vacuum cleaner. And remember that a damp dust cloth will trap more dust than a dry one.3
4. LESS OFTEN IS MORE
Good news for those who don't love to vacuum: experts say it's better to vacuum thoroughly once a week than to bring out the vacuum cleaner every day for a quick run over the carpets. During your weekly vacuuming session, don't forget to use the upholstery attachment on mattresses and padded furniture, where dust mites love to hide.3 Be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter to reduce the amount of allergens in the air.
5. REMAKE THE BED
As you change out heavy winter bedding for lighter spring blankets, wash quilts and blankets in hot water (at least 130° F) and dry them thoroughly before storing them. Do the same with throw pillows and stuffed animals. Wash or dry-clean your curtains and dust blinds thoroughly with a microfiber cloth.4 It’s also a good idea to put your mattress and pillows in allergy-proof casings.
6. REPLACE YOUR FILTERS
This is a good time to change the filters in your HVAC system or furnace and air conditioners. Choose those with a MERV rating of at least 10. (The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles it can filter.)5 Keeping your home dust-free can go a long way toward reducing your dust allergy symptoms. But no amount of cleaning can rid your home of every last grain of dust. So when dust allergies hit, turn to the nasal spray that contains the #1 most prescribed allergy medicine.*
1. AAFA. Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality https://www.aafa.org/control-indoor-allergens/ Accessed September 25th, 2019.
2. Turner PR, Gibson SMS, Reed AR. Leave it at the door. University of Georgia. February 2010. http://spock.fcs.uga.edu/ext/pubs/hace/HACE-E-81.pdf. Accessed August 9th, 2019.
3. Ogg B. Managing house dust mites. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. https://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/dustmites311.shtml. Accessed August 9th, 2019.
4. AAFA Dust mites. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=16&cont=48. Accessed August 9th, 2019.
5. NCB1. Effectiveness of air filters and air cleaners in allergic respiratory diseases: a review of the recent literature. https://misuse.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/error/abuse.shtml Accessed August 9th, 2019.
* Based on IMS Health Monthly TRx Allergy Market. 12-month period ending May, 2014