Dealing with allergies can be exasperating. Either you or a loved one constantly battles with sneezing, coughing, itchiness, rashes, difficult breathing, and more. Severe allergic reactions are often frightening, can seriously impact your health, and could even threaten your life. They aren’t something you can afford to ignore.
The following steps offer 7 easy ways to create an allergy-proof home. To start, address areas you think may be affecting you or your loved ones now (such as fumes or mould). Then continue working your way through the steps.
As you proceed, you should begin to notice changes: fewer or milder symptoms, improved ability to think clearly, more energy, etc. The more steps you take, the more protection you have against allergic reactions.
Some of these strategies may require you to re-think your home and interior design choices; others you must follow consistently and regularly for a lasting, positive effect.
To prevent airborne toxins or allergens from affecting your family member, it is best to clean, dust, or unpack stored items outside of your home.
Step 1: Remove or Regularly Clean Dust Mite Hiding Places
- If possible, remove carpeting. Hard surface floors are much easier to keep free of dust and dust mites. If you cannot or prefer not to remove carpeting, vacuum regularly.
- Treat carpet regularly with tannic acid (the same acid found in black tea) to help control dust mites.
- Totally encase mattresses and box springs in allergen-proof covers. Mattresses are favourite places for dust mites and other tiny creatures to hide and they can cause allergic reactions. Nowadays, you can buy mattresses made of special springs and cotton, designed for the health conscious. These mattresses are ideal for your allergic family member.
- Dust all surfaces with a damp cloth weekly, including lamps and windowsills.
- Shake out rugs and cushions outdoors weekly.
- Furnish and decorate with a light touch. Avoid soft furnishings with folds, ruffled, heavy, or pleated drapes, cushions, deep upholstery, and venetian blinds.
- Use cotton bedding and curtains that can be washed at high temperatures, and wash them in hot water weekly, even allergy-proof bedding. Lower temperatures will not destroy dust mites. You can rinse in cold water to save energy.
- Set your mattresses and bedding in bright sunlight all day to destroy dust mites. Beat or shake well afterwards to remove the dead mites.
- Use minimal furniture in the bedroom. If possible, use only one bed in each bedroom.
- Eliminate clutter – A cluttered room contains more dust trap and is harder to keep clean. If you love knickknack or books, put them in closed cupboards or glass displays (and clean regularly).
- Store soft, furry toys in closed cupboards when not used.
- Clean all filters monthly, as they can collect dust, mould and other allergens and disperse them into the room.
- Clean fly screens and screen doors monthly, as they trap dust etc.
Step 2: Reduce Contact with Your Pet and Other Animals
- Keep cat litter trays outside or far away from your family. (Or let your cat out to do business outside)
- If you or your child spends time with a pet outside, dust yourselves off before you come inside as you will carry animal dander and hair indoors where it can settle on furniture or become airborne.
- Brush or have someone brush your pet before it is allowed inside the house to remove pollen, dust, or other allergens.
- Keep pets off furniture and out of bedrooms Give your pet its own resting place: a pet bed, cushion or mat.
- Discourage your pet from licking you. If it does, wash off the saliva.
Step 3: Keep Pollen Out Of Your Home
- Use only low-allergen plants near the house
- Remove trees or flowers that release pollen into the air: rye grass, weeds, and trees like cedars that don’t flower
- Remove outer clothing and shoes before you enter the house, or leave them at the front door
- Brush pets before they enter the house to remove pollen from their fur
- Hang guests’ coats or jackets near the front door
- Choose live indoor plants over flower bouquets as much as possible
- Wipe down window and door screens regularly; especially in hay fever season (If you’re the one with allergies, assign that task to someone else).
Step 4: Make Your Home Fume and Fragrance-Free
- Open windows to allow gases to escape.
- Do not allow cigarette smoke in or around your home.
- Provide good ventilation. If you use natural gas, you must have floor-level ventilation. Natural gas settles close to the floor, where small children breathe it in.
- Use extractor fans and air vents when cooking, especially for fish. Clean the filters monthly.
- Remove any plastic items that smell. If you can smell it, it is off-gassing and the fumes are toxic.
- If possible, replace plastic outdoor furniture and plastic toys with wooden items.
- Avoid Teflon cookware. Teflon releases fumes when heated. These fumes get into the food and into the air.
- Remove all sources of volatile compounds. These are chemicals released by plastic and plastic materials found in some furnishings, plastic above–ground pools, vinyl and other floor and furniture coverings.
- Use hypoallergenic paints, varnishes, and wood treatments
- Avoid room fresheners, fragrances or potpourris. Over 80% of fragrances today are synthetic, and can cause allergic reactions.
Step 5: Choose Natural, Organic or Low-Allergen Cleaners
- Avoid strong chemicals, acids, or alkalis
- Choose natural, unscented cleaning products. There are many on the market, but some contain substances such as herbal essence or natural oils that might affect your child.
- Use plain white vinegar and baking soda for most cleaning needs. White vinegar cleans wood, tile and linoleum floors. Baking soda in water is excellent for cleaning inside the fridge. Used together, baking soda and white vinegar take care of many cleaning needs such as sinks, tiles, stoves, ovens and bathrooms. Clean all surfaces weekly.
- Clean greasy kitchen surfaces with dish detergent and warm water. Otherwise, baking soda and vinegar will suffice.
- Wash hands properly with plain unscented soap and warm water. Unless you’re doing surgery, you don’t need anything stronger. Castile soap is very good, and goats’ milk soap is recommended for sensitive skin.
- Clean with muscle power instead of harsh cleaners.
Step 6: Use Water Wisely
- Don’t drink, shower, or bathe in ordinary tap water
- Buy a good water filter for your kitchen. There are many to choose from, so research which filters out chlorine and fluoride, as well as harmful microbes.
- Alternatively, buy good quality bottled or natural spring water, preferably in large glass bottles. Plastic bottles can release toxins into the water.
- If you use plastic water bottles, use bottles made of these plastics: #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP. Most research on these plastics suggests they do not leach carcinogens or endocrine disruptors into the water as occurs with other plastics. (The numbers should appear on the bottom of the bottle).
- If you re-use your drinking-water bottles, wash them daily in hot soap and water to prevent the build-up of mould on the inside.
- Install filters that trap both chlorine and fluoride on shower and bath taps, as chlorine releases even more toxic fumes when heated. Some patients have found Sprite water filters very effective. Their website is spritewater.com.
- If you have a home swimming pool, consider alternatives to excessive chlorine treatment.
- Keep ordinary tap water for washing up, laundry and gardening (unless you have sensitive hands).
Step 7: Create a Mould-Free House
- Frequently clean musty smelling corners or any damp areas that may develop mould with baking soda and vinegar.
- Look for sources of dampness like leaking pipes, drips, or soil against the outside walls. Correct the problem, and clean the mould.
- Keep flower beds and other soils from touching the walls of the house if they are not properly insulated, as they favour dampness.
- Wash dish cloths daily in hot soapy water and hang out to dry.
- Air out sweaty shoes.
- Replace mouldy-looking or musty-smelling potting soil from indoor plants with fresh mix.
- Wipe baths and showers dry after each use (It helps to spray with white vinegar and water before wiping).
- Regularly air out cupboards, basements or attics, and let in sunlight, when possible.
- Wash vaporizers and humidifiers weekly with vinegar, as they can grow mould and release it into the air.
- Clean out clothes cupboards monthly as they can harbor mould.
- Clean up garden refuse and fallen leaves before mould can grow on them. Put them in the compost bin or the rubbish bin.
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