Living with allergies is challenging, but you can alleviate some of the challenges by the way you furnish your space. Some of the most common allergens in the home are pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. While it is not possible to get rid of them completely, they can be minimized to mitigate the suffering of those who are allergic to them.
The Goal: A Home That Is Clean and Dry
As a starting point, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends aggressive cleaning as a step to keeping your home allergy-free. Keeping your home clean and dry is perhaps the most important step to take when you need to minimize allergens inside a home.
Additionally, any mold should be promptly removed by professionals if possible, since many people have severe mold allergies. Mold can grow wherever organic materials meet moisture. Some common-sense precautions include avoiding water-stained carpets, ceilings, or tiles in a home, and removing any moldy materials as soon as possible to get rid of pollution sources.
Reduce the Clutter
The furniture and decor you select can play a big role in keeping a home clean and allergy-free. Cutting down on both the number of furniture pieces and their size can be a boon for reducing allergy sources. Avoid overstuffed furniture and make sure not to crowd furniture in any area. Keep plenty of space around furniture to ensure you can easily clean around it. It is important to get rid of all dirt and debris on a regular basis, and frequent cleaning is essential to keep allergens to a minimum.
In addition, follow these recommendations:
- Make sure to have enough storage in a child's room where toys can be stored to protect them from collecting dust.
- Avoid keeping books and collectibles in a bedroom because they can collect a lot of dust.
- Keep nightstands free of objects so that the air around the bed is clean.
Focus on the Bed
Beds need special attention because pillows and mattresses can be a breeding ground for allergy-causing dust mites. Besides the obvious—laundering bedsheets and pillowcases at least once a week—it also helps to encase pillows and mattresses in allergen-proof covers. These covers can be made of washable fabric, but they are also available as airtight, zippered plastic coverings that prevent any direct contact with the pillows and mattresses.
Better still, try to find mattresses and pillows that are made of hypoallergenic material. Find out what is in your mattress and make sure that you aren't allergic to it. Many mattresses contain latex, which can be a source of allergies for some people. If you are not allergic to latex, then it might be a viable choice, as it doesn't foster dust mites.
Choose Upholstery Carefully
Leather and vinyl are probably the best upholstery choices for allergy sufferers. These materials can be cleaned easily, and leather is now available in a variety of colors and looks. Buying a good quality leather sofa can be expensive, but the investment pays off in the long run, as leather is very durable.
Consider these additional tips regarding upholstery materials:
- While selecting sofas and chairs, make sure to choose designs that raise the base up on legs rather than allowing the base to sit on the floor. This prevents dust and mold from accumulating underneath.
- If you must have fabric upholstery, be prepared to clean more often than with leather. Choose the tightest weave possible, so that particles have trouble penetrating it. Vacuum thoroughly and regularly to keep it dust-free.
- Also, remember the organic fabric is not necessarily hypoallergenic—organic wool and some other natural materials can still cause allergies.
Keep the Floors Bare
It is best to have bare floors that can be cleaned easily and thoroughly. Carpets and rugs can be the greatest repositories of dust. Rugs and carpets with dense, long piles are the worst since dust can settle deep into the fibers, making it impossible to fully eliminate.
To minimize allergens on your floors, also follow these recommendations:
- If it's not possible to remove the carpet, use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter.
- Throw rugs and dhurries are better than carpets; look for those with a low pile or those that are washable.
- Also, make sure any rugs or underlays are low VOC products, as volatile organic compounds are a major source of allergies for individuals sensitive to chemicals.
Avoid Heavy Curtains and Drapes
Fabric curtains and drapes are a major source of allergies, since they trap pollen and dust particles and are hard to thoroughly clean. The heavier the fabric, the greater the contribution to allergies. If you must have curtains, use light cotton ones. These have the advantage of being easily washed to get rid of any dust that may settle on them. Completely avoid heavy drapes or ones that pool on the floor.
Blinds are the best window treatment for an allergy-free environment inside the home but avoid accordion-pleats. Metal Venetian blinds are better than wood, as wood can also harbor mites.