By Dr Liji Thomas, MD
Home allergies are an important cause of illness in all age groups. However, there are simple ways and means to avoid them.
Closeup of the arm of a young man who is having a skin allergy test Copyright: nito / Shutterstock
- Encourage everyone to wipe their feet and take off outdoor clothing. Let anything which requires to be washed be put directly into the washer – this helps reduce pollen entry.
- Choose plain flooring, hardwood or linoleum. Mop it weekly.
- Use washable rugs or carpets with a low pile. Vacuum them weekly using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum, and shampoo frequently.
- Keep windows closed and use air-conditioning throughout the hay fever season. Clean off mold and condensation.
- Use 100 percent cotton or synthetic curtains. If you prefer blinds, use roller types made of washable material.
- Use non-upholstered furniture, without kinks and curves. Dust frequently.
- Keep tabletops and all visible surfaces clear of clutter so as to minimize dust accumulation and make cleaning easier.
- Use plastic bins for toys so you can dust them every day.
- Remove potted plants. If you can’t, buy aquarium-grade gravel and cover the soil completely to keep away mold.
- Avoid wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, and use natural gas instead.
- Install a vented chimney, to exhaust fumes and moisture.
- Clean all surfaces with a damp cloth. Wear a dust mask.
- Don’t smoke, and don’t allow smoking inside the house.
- Bathe pets weekly, and wash pet beds every month.
- If you use a cleaning product or insecticide which is not natural, run the air conditioner, or open the windows if it is not hay fever season.
- Make sure the air conditioner brings in air from outside.
- Spend time outside as much as possible, and keep windows open for as long as you can.
In the Bedroom
- When you make up your bed, make sure your mattresses, pillows, shams, and cushions have synthetic fillers.
- Avoid wool or feathers.
- Choose dust-mite proof covers for all your bedding.
- Wash all bedding sheets, pillowcases and blankets at 1540 F or above once a week (use a laundromat if required), and use chlorine bleach in the wash – this will kill dust mites and their eggs, and destroy mold.
- Don’t let your pets play with your kids’ stuffed toys.
- Keep soft toys away from the children’s beds. Wash them as you wash the bedding. If you can’t, freeze them for 24 hours and wash them in cold water.
- Keep pets away from the bedroom.
- Replace pillows and mattresses every 5 and 10 years, respectively.
- Use an air filter in your bedroom with HEPA or small particle filtration, and orient its flow so the clean air reaches your head throughout the night.
In the Kitchen
- Install a vented hood to drive out fumes and moisture.
- Wipe down kitchen counters with detergent daily.
- Scrub the sink and faucets daily to keep away mold.
- Discard the drippings from and clean the fridge dripping tray weekly.
- Throw away moldy food, and clean moldy fridge door gaskets.
- Keep all food in sealed containers.
- Food should be eaten only in the dining room – this keeps the rest of the house free from cockroaches and other insects as well.
- Sweep out the trash and make sure the trash can is insect-proof. If you see insects, use traps, poison baits or boric acid. Avoid pesticides if anyone in the house has asthma.
In the Bathroom
- Ventilate the bathroom well to avoid mold.
- Use plain flooring or washable rugs.
- Use wall tile or washable enamel paint on the walls, and wipe it down daily.
- Keep the counter, the shower, the curtains or blinds, the taps and the enclosure clean and dry to avoid mold.
- Launder and dry the mats weekly.
- Repair leaks to keep out unwanted moisture.
In the Basement
- Keep the basement dry.
- If you store things there, use plastic coverings.
- Find and seal all cracks and seams to keep moisture and mold away.
- Adjust the house temperature to between 68 and 72 F, or as low as possible with comfort.
- Keep the humidity below 50 percent by running the dehumidifier if needed, to keep away mold.
- Clean all air filters once a month.
- Control pests, by keeping it dry, doing a thorough cleaning, or bringing in professional exterminators, and sealing all cracks.
In short, keep your house cool, dry, and clean to enjoy it to the full without falling prey to home allergies.
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc
Last Updated: Jun 8, 2016