The dreaded allergy season will soon be upon us. So what to do? Start early and be prepared. With a bit of planning and a few simple steps, you can take control of your indoor environment and minimize the impact of those pesky allergies.
Purify Your Air
Using an air purifier will improve your indoor air quality dramatically. These air cleaners have long been recommended for asthma and allergy suffers because of their ability to filter particles from the air. Because these units clean the air of dust, pet dander, pollen, and other pollutants, they help to eliminate some of the major causes of allergy symptoms.
There are two things you can do to get your air purifier ready for allergy season:
Clean your unit properly and replace any necessary filters so that it will be able to work at optimum efficiency. Keeping an accurate calendar of when the last filter change occurred will help you stay up to date on your routine. (See our article on Air Purifier Maintenance to learn more.)
Learn the features of your unit. Many units are much more sophisticated than previous models and can be programmed or set to best suit your needs. For example, setting your purifier's timer to turn on an hour before you arrive home from work will ensure you come into a house full of clean, healthy air. Granted not all units on the market are programmable, but most units feature different speed settings, which can make a significant difference in the amount of air that is cleaned during each hour the unit is on. Some units work better on lower speeds, while others clean more efficiently at higher speeds. Get to know your unit, so you can get the best results from your air cleaner.
Clean with Steam
Cleaning with a high-quality steam cleaner can positively affect your indoor environment for a number of reasons:
Steam cleaning truly deep cleans your home by using highly heated water to form a fine steam mist. The steam kills germs and bacteria that can make you sick and aggravate your allergies.
Steam cleaning upholstered furniture, floors, hard surfaces, and draperies allows you to keep your home clean of the polluted particles (i.e., allergy triggers) that are swept into our homes through everyday activities. There is no way to totally eliminate pollutants (such as dust mites), but steam cleaning dramatically minimizes their presence.
Steamers use only water, no harsh chemicals. This saves money and eliminates harmful toxins from the home that are unhealthy for you and your family. Steam cleaners are an upfront investment that pays for itself in the long run.
Steam cleaning twice a month is an ideal routine. Because today's steam cleaners are much easier to use, safer to handle, and more portable than previous models, steam cleaning is no longer a cumbersome task.
Vacuum up Your Worries
You can't vacuum up all your worries, but you can suck up the dust, pollen, dander, and dirt (and even dust mites) with a quality vacuum cleaner. High-quality vacuums work best. This is not because they are expensive (which they sometimes can be), but because of their construction and technology (it's truly a case of you get what you pay for in this instance). The best allergy vacuums are specially sealed to trap the material they suck up, preventing it from escaping during and after usage. Additionally, these vacuums have a higher-powered suction and greater capacity, so you are able to collect more dirt, debris, and air-borne pollutants while you are cleaning. These vacuums also come with specially constructed filters (HEPA filters are the best) that filter the air more effectively.
Having a vacuum with a high-quality filter is ideal because the exhaust air that comes out of these units is much cleaner. While bagless vacuums are very popular these days, vacuum bags actually serve as a first wave filtration system in the unit. Therefore, models which use vacuum bags often prove to be better at filtering air than bagless models.
With this said, vacuuming, regardless of the style of vacuum, has its benefits:
Vacuuming can remove dust, dander, and allergen pollutants from many places you can't otherwise easily clean.
Air pollutant particles are trapped in carpets and rugs so as we walk and move over the floor, these particles are pushed up into the air. Regular vacuuming keeps more pollutants out of the air. A good routine is to vacuum at least once a week. This will help to minimize the amount of trapped particles in your indoor space.
Dehumidify Your Space
A dehumidifier can be a great asset during allergy season, especially the late summer months and early fall, or if you live in a very humid climate. These units absorb excess moisture from the air, leaving a cleaner, more temperature indoor environment. A high humidity level in your home can cause a number of problems, because the presence of excessive moisture in the air creates the perfect environment for bacteria and mold to grow. Investing in a dehumidifier is a wise choice because these units help keep airborne allergies grounded and prevent bacterial/mold problems from forming.
Dehumidifiers can pull multiple gallons of water from the air each day, depending on your needs and the settings you specify.
Keeping the humidity at a low, moderate level of humidity indoors will help you to breathe easier and not give germs/bacteria a breeding ground. (A general guideline for the ideal level of indoor humidity is between 45%-50%; this may fluctuate, but when the level of humidity rises, the levels of bacteria, dust mites, mold, and other issues can as well. An excessively low humidity can also create problems, such as dry skin or sore throats, so avoid extremes. Moderate levels are ideal.)
The less humid the air is, the fewer particles can hang around in the air and stick to surfaces. Therefore, the less humid your home is, the less allergy triggers you will face.
Dehumidifiers keep mold from taking hold, so basements are ideal spots for these units.
Keep Your Indoor Environment in Top Shape
As mentioned before, our indoor air is sealed up from the outside air. It is an environment unto itself. This does create some negative problems; however, having an environment separate from the outside world also can have some great benefits, namely control. You have control of your indoor environment, from how you clean the air to how much moisture is in the air. It is empowering to know that inside the walls of your home, you have a choice on the level of air quality. With this in mind, make sure you have your home in optimum shape for the allergy season, (it will serve you well for all seasons).
Make sure windows and doors are well sealed to avoid air entering or escaping; this will cut down on your energy bill and allow you to clean/control the air that is within your home. Eliminating air drafts will let your air purifier more easily create a cleaner indoor air environment.
Do not open doors and windows for extended periods, as this only allows pollen, dust, and outside pollutants to fill up your indoor space, triggering allergies.
Clean or replace your furnace filters. This is a good opportunity to upgrade these filters to either a higher quality or a HEPA filter. Remember these filters are a doorway from the outside air supply directly inside your home, and all the air that is channeled comes through that one filter. Beyond the health benefits, changing your filter will also save on energy costs.
What You Do Makes a Difference
Without taking steps to create a clean, healthy indoor environment, you will end up breathing polluted air and suffering unnecessarily. So this allergy season, and for all the ones to come, be prepared and make your indoor space that oasis of comfort you deserve. Using all the tips together is ideal, but choosing any one of them will improve your air quality and allow you to breathe easier during the coming allergy season, and beyond.
Still Have Questions?
For more information on specific products and ways to improve your indoor environment, review our extensive product listings and other educational materials. Not sure what's best for you? We can take the guess work out of decision making, contact our product experts toll free at 1 (800) 934-9194. Our goal is to make your indoor environment a healthy one.