Allergy-Proofing Your Apartment

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Allergy-Proofing Your Apartment

Cassie Damewood · Mar 5, 2019
A young woman suffering from allergies and blowing her nose furiously.

Allergy sufferers — a group which more than 50 percent of the US population claims to fall in — typically know what seasons affect them the most and arm themselves with medicines and tools to fight the symptoms well ahead of time. But many people don’t realize that the air we breathe in our homes can be two to five times more polluted than the great outdoors.

To make your days and nights spent inside as pleasant as can be, you’ll want to take the time to do a sweep of every room in your apartment to discover and eliminate common irritants. Let’s get to allergy-proofing:

Mitigate Mold

Mold doesn’t always reveal itself in big black blotches. In fact, it’s completely invisible sometimes. But it is infamous for causing a multitude of allergic reactions from sneezing and wheezing to coughing and rashes.

Bathroom Mold

Good air flow in the bathroom is the absolute best deterrent to mold. Use the ventilation fan during all baths and showers to reduce moisture. If you don’t have a fan, crack open a door or window to promote good circulation. You should also wipe down the nooks and crannies in here every week or so to further reduce dankness.

Vinyl or plastic shower curtains are highly susceptible to mold growth, especially in the folds. On top of that, some of them also emit compounds that can irritate your lungs. Nylon curtains not only breathe better and deter mold growth, but they can also be regularly tossed in the wash for everlasting freshness.

Dripping faucets and pipes also promote mold growth. Check these connections periodically and either fix the problems yourself or hire a plumber to do it.

Kitchen Mold

Refrigerator mold is very sneaky. Not only can it grow unnoticed around door gaskets, but it can also spread quickly under the vegetable crispers and other built-in storage drawers. Check those areas weekly and keep them clean and dry to fend off the fungus.

Hidden Mold

Houseplants are generally good for your home environment, but if you overwater them or leave dead leaves and stems in the pots, the potting soil will most likely produce mold that’s undetectable to the human eye. You can also bring spores into your home on the soles of your shoes in the form of leaf mold, which itself is often mixed with allergy-inducing pollen. Wipe your feet on a rough outdoor mat before coming inside or just leave your shoes at the door to keep yourself from spreading it throughout your home.

Freddy the fish may be hypoallergenic, but don’t let his carefree swimming fool you. That fish tank is the ideal environment for mold growth, so be sure to clean it and the filters every few weeks to keep yourself as healthy and happy as your aquatic friend.

Unfriendly Fumes

That fan above your stove isn’t just for sucking up smoke when you burn food. Use it every time you cook to pull cooking fumes and moisture from the room and deposit them outdoors to prevent allergic reactions. In addition, exhaust fans can make cooking with gas safer, as gas stove fumes often contain cancer-causing carcinogens.

Everyone loves fresh-smelling air, but if anyone in your home has respiratory-related allergies, you should avoid plug-in air fresheners at all costs. Some brands release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that frequently cause breathing problems and headaches.

Bedroom Bothers

Letting your pet sleep on your bed might just be thing that's causing your allergies to flare up.

That room you rely on to give you sanctuary and sweet dreams might just be triggering the bulk of your allergies. Dust mites are ultra-common, so cover everything from your box springs and mattresses to pillows and comforters with microfiber dust mite-proof covers to keep them from penetrating your bedding. Keep the mites further at bay by washing your bed linens once a week in water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit and tumble-drying them on the hottest dryer setting.

No Pet Zone

As comforting as it is to let your dogs and cats sleep in your bed, the practice is known to trigger allergies. One study found that keeping cats out of the bedroom made people much less prone to developing feline allergies. In addition, 15 percent of people have allergies not to pets’ fur, but to their saliva, urine, and/or dander.

General Home Allergy Reduction

Get rid of those boxes and bags in your home crammed with old magazines, newspapers, cans, and other disposables. These are all dust magnets and rarely get any attention, especially if they’re in an attic or garage. In general, clutter also tends to attract mold, bugs, and mice. Recycle as often as possible and use plastic bins for storage to reduce your risk of an infestation.

Window coverings not only accrue a lot of dust, but they are often the most overlooked items in housecleaning regimens. Eliminate them altogether or make sure they’re washed, dusted, or dry-cleaned on a regular basis.

Upholstered furniture can be a nightmare for some allergy sufferers. For that reason, you should stick to leather chairs and sofas, both of which harbor considerably fewer allergens than their cloth counterparts. If leather isn’t an option, clean your furniture with a HEPA vacuum cleaner at least once a week. Vacuums with HEPA filters are certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and they do a great job of both removing common allergens from your home and preventing them from leaking back into the atmosphere.

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