Springtime relief from winter weather is often, sadly, overshadowed by the suffering that comes from seasonal allergies. But you may not be as helpless against them as you think. Here are some sneaky little mistakes you might be making that, once remedied, could help give you some much-needed relief so you can actually enjoy the flowers and warm air and bird songs.
1. Not changing your air filters regularly
Typically, air filters should be changed every three months. However, if you have pets, you'll need to change them more often. And if you have allergies, especially during pollen season, you should aim to change your filters even more frequently, somewhere between 20 and 45 days.
2. Forgetting to dust often
Dusting when you have allergies is horrible because it can expose you to your allergen, leaving you vulnerable to an allergy attack. But putting off the task increases the amount of allergens in your ambient air, which poses an even bigger allergy problem in the long-run. Get a mask (like this one) to wear while you do it and commit to a quick dusting every other day. Make sure to dust top to bottom and follow with a thorough vacuuming.
3. Vacuuming the carpets but not your upholstery
Vacuum after you dust, but don't forget the surfaces in between the things you dust and your floors and carpets—namely, your upholstered furniture. Dust mite allergens love to live in your upholstery, so be sure to address this often-overlooked allergen spot.
4. Taking a shower in the morning instead of the afternoon or evening
When you're out and about during pollen season, pollen settles onto your clothing and hair. The best practice is to remove your "outside" clothes and take a shower as soon as possible after you get home. Otherwise, you're not only continuing to breathe the pollen that has stuck to you, but you're also spreading it to your furniture and bedding.
5. Not using allergy relief bedding
There's no better home for dust mites than your bed, where it's warm and humid with a steady supply of shed skin cells from your body (their favorite food). Allergy relief bedding keeps dust mite allergens that are already in your pillows, comforter, and mattress from escaping into your breathing zone, and starves them of their food source by not allowing your shed skin cells in to where they're living.
6. Washing your bedding in water that's not hot enough
If you have allergies, you need to wash your bedding frequently, but that's not enough. To kill dust mites, you need to wash in water that's at least 130 degrees. Many newer washers have an allergy cycle to make this extra convenient. For items that can't handle water that hot, you can use a special allergen detergent.
7. Allowing air to get too dry or too humid
Air that's too dry makes many allergens like pet dander and dust become airborne even more easily. In addition, dry air irritates nasal passages and mucus membranes that are already reacting to allergens, making your allergy symptoms even worse. On the other hand, air that's too humid enables dust mites to thrive because they live on ambient moisture. Ideally, keep indoor humidity levels between 40 and 50 percent. Use a hygrometer (this one is $9) to gauge humidity, and a dehumidifier if you need to.
8. Wearing shoes in the house
An infamous Apartment Therapy debate, but if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you should give this practice a second thought, even if you're firmly in the shoes-on camp. Sticky pollen spores attach to your shoes and by wearing them around the house, you're spreading them all over your breathing zone. Taking them off by the door keeps them contained.