Suffering from allergies is a terrible thing at any time, but it's especially difficult to be breaking out in hives, sneezing incessantly, and struggling to breathe when you're supposed to be falling asleep at night. As someone who has suffered from terrible allergies and asthma all of my twenty-nine years, I know that as difficult as it can be, there are steps to take that can help create an allergy-free safe zone in your bedroom to help ease those night-time allergy attacks.
Here is some of my best advice for creating a restful, allergy-free space.
- Clean regularly with natural products, as traditional cleaning supply fumes can set off an allergic reaction.
- Wipe down your bedframe with a damp cloth weekly.
- Cut the clutter — less stuff gives allergens fewer places to hide.
- Don't store things under the bed. It's difficult to clean and dust (and dust mites!) love to hide under there.
- Limit difficult-to-clean soft surfaces like carpets, upholstered items, and heavy draperies.
- Houseplants are good air filters if you don't have mold allergies.
Dust mites (actually, their excrement) are responsible for the majority of year-round allergy problems in the bedroom. They live in soft surfaces, and dust, and come out to eat the skin cells and oils we all shed throughout the day. Pretty gross. Here are a few tips for dealing with dust mites:
- Mattresses and box springs should be encased in a protective allergen cover. The covers are woven too tightly for the mites to slip through, so they can't take up residence in your mattress, or, if they already live in your mattress, they can't get back out to irritate you.
- Pillows and comforters should either be made of allergen friendly synthetics, or encased in protective covers. Down is an attractive home for dust mites, so be particularly careful to cover or remove all down bedding in your bedroom.
- Wash all bedding weekly in hot water to kill dust mites. This includes all soft surfaces on your bed — it's easy to forget the mattress pad or dust ruffle if you use one.
- Hard floors are best for allergy sufferers, but if you have carpets, vacuum them regularly using a HEPA filtered vacuum. Traditional vacuum filters can spread allergens through the air and cause an allergic reaction.
Pollen is the culprit behind seasonal allergies. Of course, there are different pollens at different times of the year, so if you're allergic to lots of pollens your seasonal allergies can be a near year-round problem. Pollen loves to stick to hair and clothes when you go outside and has a tendency to follow you when you head back inside. To get a little relief from pollen in the bedroom:
- Do not wear/bring dirty clothes or outerwear into your bedroom. Find a place outside of the bedroom for your clothes hamper, and be sure to change into fresh, clean clothes before heading into the bedroom.
- Leave shoes outside or by the door when you come in. As with clothing, pollen sticks to your shoes, and wearing them into your bedroom will track the allergen everywhere.
- Bathe before going to bed at night. This removes all of the pollen that has accumulated on your hair and skin throughout the day, preventing you from transporting the pollen onto your bed at night. I have to say, this one was life changing for me!
- Leave the windows closed. A fresh breeze is nice, but it can carry allergens in with it. A fan can help give you a little air circulation, without bringing pollen in from outside.
Mold can be a sneaky allergen because it can hide in unexpected places, like under your carpet or in your hamper. If you do find mold, it can be cleaned with bleach, or the molded item can be removed altogether. Hopefully you'll never have to deal with a full-blown mold issue, but even small areas of mold can cause major allergies. Here are a few tips to protect against mold:
- Houseplants should be kept outside of the bedroom. Mold can develop in the soil and on the plant itself, and might not be visible to you until after you've started having allergy problems.
- Damp items should not be placed into hampers until they are dry. The dark, damp environment of a hamper is an ideal place for mold to grow. Ideally, the hamper should be kept outside of your bedroom, and emptied regularly to prevent mold growth.
- Keep an eye out for damp patches around windows and exterior doors. If you have carpet, this includes the carpeted area underneath any windows or doors. If you do find a wet spot in the walls or window casings, it might be best to call in a professional to be sure the problem isn't widespread or structural in some way.
This is a hard one. We all love our pets and want to spend as much time with them as possible, but when you have a pet dander allergy it's not always possible to let them share your bedroom with you. There are a few things you can do to help alleviate pet dander allergies in your bedroom:
- Create a nice place for your pet to sleep that is outside of your bedroom. If your pet is used to sleeping in your room it can be a difficult adjustment, but a new pet bed and cuddly blankets can help ease the transition.
- Close the door to your bedroom when you're not around to prevent your pets from spending time in there.
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly. Pet dander gets deep into carpets and doesn't vacuum out easily, so if it's at all possible hard floors are much better for pet dander allergies.
- Bathe your pet weekly. This cuts down on the amount of dander shed, and it's always nice for your pet to be fluffy and clean!
Allergies are so difficult to deal with, and difficult to live with. While it might not be practical to live an allergen free life, having your bedroom be an allergy-free sanctuary can go a long way in helping you breath easier (literally!) in a generally allergen filled world.
(Image credits: Liana Hayles Newton)