Allergies affect more than 50 million Americans, and are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the US, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America.(1)
Exactly what happens when your body has an allergic reaction?
When your body reacts to an allergen, your immune system views the allergen as harmful and overreacts to it. The video below explains further.
One important way to alleviate allergies is to rid allergens in your home. This room by room guide will help.
Allergens in the Bedroom
Bedrooms have allergens in the form of dust and chemicals that create an allergy-like reaction.
Dust mites—found in mattresses, pillows, furniture, and carpets—are the most common cause of year-round allergies. (2) While exposure to dust can’t be avoided completely, there are easy ways to minimize exposure.
Mattresses and pillows are home to thousands of dust mites that are stirred up each time you get into, move, or turn in bed.
Encase mattresses and pillows in allergen barriers. Allergen barriers are made of tightly woven polyester or cotton that prevent most dust mites from moving about. Choose organic cotton allergen barriers to avoid oil byproducts and chemicals used to make synthetic fabrics.
Furniture that is padded, or covered in cloth, contain more dust mites than hard-surface furniture. Choose rocking chairs and other bedroom furniture that are made of solid hardwood with a zero-VOC finish in order to minimize dust mites and chemicals in the bedroom.
Hard-surface flooring will contain far fewer dust mites than carpet flooring. Choose a hard-surface floor—like wood that is finished with a zero-VOC finish, natural cork installed with zero- or low-VOC adhesives, or ceramic tile—with throw rugs that can be washed weekly.
Allergens in the Living Room, Family Room & Kids' Toy Room
Dust in our living rooms, family rooms, and toy rooms often contain allergens. However, you can minimize dust mites in these rooms in the following ways:
Avoid wall-to-wall carpets
Use area rugs that can be cleaned easily
Use hard-surface flooring, like solid hardwood that is finished with a zero-VOC stain and/or finish
Choose hard-surface furniture—like wooden chairs—with minimal textiles and cushions; or with easy-to-clean slip covers and cushions
Choose furniture that is covered with a smooth-surface material—like leather—can be easily wiped clean
Choose curtains that are washable and made of a natural fibers, dyes, and finishes. Wash curtains weekly to keep dust and dust mites to a minimum
Allergens in the Kitchen and Bathroom
Kitchens and bathrooms are considered high moisture areas of the home that often contain vinyl and plastic products, such as vinyl flooring, vinyl shower curtains, vinyl-backed bath mats, and plastic food and drink containers. What does this have to do with allergies?
Vinyl and plastics, along with fragranced candles, scented plastic garbage bags, cosmetics, deodorants and antiperspirants, and moisturizers are made with chemicals that may trigger allergies.
Avoid vinyl whenever possible.
Instead of vinyl flooring, 100% hardwood or 100% ceramic tile are good options.
House dust is created from normal wear and tear of typical products found in the home—like furniture, curtains, electronics, plastics, and more. (3) Not only does house dust contain tiny particles of these materials, it also contains the chemicals found in our products—chemicals like arsenic, lead, phthalates, flame retardants, and pesticides. (4)
In fact, “over 100 potentially toxic metals, pesticides, other carcinogens, other neurotoxins, allergens, and EDCs have been identified in house dust,” according to “Monitoring and Reducing Exposure of Infants to Pollutants in House Dust,” Roberts et al. (2009). (5)
Consider detoxing your dust by purchasing cleaners, furniture, electronics, personal care products and household products that contain fewer chemicals. Instead, choose products made of organic and natural ingredients that are free of chemical finishes, VOCs, and other chemicals that have been linked to allergies and other health conditions.
Clean the home with a damp cloth to pick up more dust and reduce the amount of fly-away dust bunnies.
Consider minimizing the number of items in your home to reduce dust-generating and dust-holding objects.
While you may not be able to fully de-allergen your home, by following these tips you willo reduce the amount and find some relief from year-round allergies!