If you're like most people, you're more than ready for spring to finally get here after the long winter. However, if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, that probably puts a damper on your enthusiasm for the season. Fortunately, although there's nothing you can do to keep allergens out of the outdoor environment, you do have a significant amount of control over whether or not pollen and other aggravators enter your home interior. You probably already know that using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter helps pick up particulates of all types, but there are other things that you can do as well.
Following are five strategies designed to help keep your home as free of allergens as possible.
Make a Shoeless Rule
If household residents and guests remove their outer footwear before venturing into your interior living space, you'll cut down significantly on the presence of allergens. After all, the outdoor surfaces most people walk on as a regular part of their daily routine are rife with things that can make you sneeze, such as windblown pollen and pet dander. Although it can be sort of touchy asking guests to remove their shoes before entering your home, you can easily soften the blow by keeping a supply of nice disposable slippers by your front door. As an added bonus, this course of action will result in much cleaner floors.
Use Machine-Washable Curtains and Blinds
A few of the most overlooked areas that frequently harbor hidden allergens are curtains and blinds. Using machine-washable alternatives, and washing them in the hottest possible water on a regular basis keeps allergens from building up on these objects. This is particularly important if you're in the habit of opening your windows now and then to enjoy a fresh spring or summer breeze. Even the most finely meshed window screens won't keep most airborne pollen particles from coming inside on that pleasant breeze.
Clutter is another culprit when it comes to indoor allergen populations. Clutter attracts dust, and most modern homeowners simply don't have the time required to fastidiously clean and maintain collections of curios or other overly fussy decor items. Clutter also comes in the form of simply too much stuff lying around because the home lacks convenient places to keep things. Bringing in a bookcase, dresser, or a few shelves usually fixes this problem.
Remove Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
Wall-to-wall carpeting is probably the worst offender when it comes to harboring allergens in the average household. Although restoring flooring to the original hardwood sounds like an ambitious project, it generally doesn't take any longer than a weekend, and it's well worth it once you're finished. Not only will it update the look of your home, but allergy sufferers will breathe easier once the carpeting is no longer a part of the picture, and you can use throw rugs if you still want that aesthetic. If the original flooring isn't salvageable and you'd rather not have new hardwood flooring installed, consider using linoleum.
Change Your Air Conditioning Filters
Air conditioning filters serve the purpose of trapping particulates such as pollen, pet dander, and household dust, but unless they're changed on a regular basis, they also distribute these particulates throughout your home. It's also important to have your ductwork professionally cleaned before the start of the allergy season. If allergies are particularly bad in your area, you should speak with your air conditioning service company about using a HEPA filter on your system. The intake and output vents on your air conditioning system should also be kept clean and free of debris to prevent the distribution of allergens.