How to Control Allergens in Your Home

As much time as we spend in our homes, it is important to keep indoor allergens under control. We want you to live comfortably and symptom free, especially while at home.  The three main allergens that affect our homes on the inside are dust, mold and animal danders in Colorado.

Dust mites should first and foremost be controlled in bedrooms. Most people spend a third of their life sleeping, and dust mites are most common in these rooms. They live in pillows, mattresses, blankets, sheets, carpets and any soft material. They feed off dead skin cells and live in dark and humid places, typically in beds.  Allergies from dust mites come from the airborne waste particles they produce, not the dust mites themselves. These are not of concern in Colorado, as they need greater than 50% humidity to thrive. If you have come from a humid climate, then they can last up to 2 years before they abate.

By changing a few things in your home, including how you clean, you can decrease the number of dust mites in your home:
• Replace curtains with blinds or shades that can be wiped (if you cannot replace curtains, wash or dry clean often)
• Replace carpet with wood floors or tile (if you have throw rugs, wash frequently)
• Use allergy encasings on pillows, mattresses and box-springs, so that dust mites and the waste do not escape and become airborne
• Wash sheets and blankets every two weeks in hot water
• Use allergen-barrier comforters
• Remove things such as toys, throw pillows, and upholstered furniture from the bedroom if they are not washable or cannot be wiped down
• Try not to shampoo carpets-the moisture can cause mite growth
• Use quality vacuums with proper filters
• Keep closet doors shut so clothes stay clean

To get even better control over indoor dust mites, replace carpet with wood floors or tile throughout the house; as well as replacing curtains with blinds or shades. Also, try wood or leather furniture versus upholstered.
Animal dander from cats, dogs and other mammals is another popular allergen inside homes. Surprisingly, it is not their fur that causes allergy symptoms. These animals produce proteins in their skin that cause symptoms when they become airborne. If things are not cleaned properly, pet dander can stay in a home, after the pet has been gone, for up to six months.

The best decision for removing pet dander from your home is to relocate the pet to a new home. If you do not wish to remove your pet, these steps can help remove pet dander from your home:
• Keep pets out of bedrooms
• Use allergen encasings on pillows, mattresses and box springs, to keep previous animal dander from becoming airborne
• Wash all bedding frequently in hot water
• Use quality vacuums with HEPA air filters
• Wash hands after direct contact with pets, such as petting
• Bathe your pet twice a week if a dog and once a week if a cat
• Open windows to allow air circulation throughout the home
• Use HEPA air cleaners

Molds are common indoors and out. They typically grow in warm, dark, damp places, such as bathrooms, basements, leaky areas, and grassy, tree and leafy areas. Keeping your home clean and free of humidity is important when decreasing mold allergens.
• To remove visible mold, clean with water and bleach or a fungicide
• Replace carpet in bathrooms with tile
• Wash throw rugs frequently in hot water
• Replace basement carpet with tile or vinyl
• Use dehumidifiers to keep humidity less than 45%
• Ventilate bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms
• Keep firewood outdoors

Keeping your home free of allergens can keep you symptom free!