Nov 10, 2018
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
While the word “allergens” may cause you to think “outdoors,” allergens are found indoors too. Allergens—like pollen and mold spores—can travel into the home through open windows, the bottom of children’s shoes, and on pets' paws.
Allergens can be produced from inside of the home too. Regardless of the source, allergens often settle in household dust—a large allergy trigger for many adults and children. These allergens can cause mental “fogginess” and sleepless nights. Suggestions below may help remove allergens from your bedroom(s).
Below are 6 practical ways to reduce allergens in your bedroom, each addressing a different source of allergens.
1. Using allergy-proof bedding
Dust mites are commonly found in homes. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation, “Dust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma.” Regular vacuuming, dusting and laundering of bedding can greatly reduce the number of dust mites, however, experts also suggest using allergy-proof bedding, called allergen barriers.
Allergen barriers are used to cover mattresses and pillows to contain dust mites inside mattresses and pillows to minimize the amount of dust mites that people are exposed to when sleeping.
Allergen barriers can be made of synthetic materials such as polyester, or natural materials such as cotton. When choosing the type of allergen barrier, consider cotton material to keep bedding nontoxic while controlling dust mites.
2. Consider using an air purifier
Despite our best efforts to create a nontoxic home, there will likely be materials or products that have some chemicals due to the limited options available.
Using an air purifier may help create an even more nontoxic home in two ways: reducing dust and chemicals. Consider using an air purifier that has an activated carbon filter and a particulate filter.
The particulate filter captures and reduces allergens such as dust, mold, and pollen in the air while the activated carbon filter captures volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Click here to learn which air purifier Sophia Ruan Gushée uses.
3. Keep the right humidity level
High humidity levels can cause an increase in dust mites, mold, and off-gassing of products. Keep humidity levels below 50 percent by using a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
Humidity can become a challenge above ground rooms (1st and 2nd floors) as well as basements, particularly basements that have been finished and include living areas such as bedrooms or entertainment rooms. Consider buying a humidity gauge for each level of the home to keep an eye on humidity.
When bedrooms are attached to a master bathroom, run the exhaust fan for 10 minutes or more in order to remove moisture created by taking showers and baths. Doing this can help minimize mold and other allergy triggers that may be caused by high humidity levels.
4. Clean your bedroom properly
Frequent and proper cleaning can go a long way in reducing allergens. Consider cleaning bedrooms weekly. Dust furniture, wash flooring, and clean soft surfaces for a complete bedroom cleaning.
When cleaning, move furniture and clean the floor under it to remove dust bunnies that accumulate under furniture and in corners of the room.
After cleaning hard surfaces such as nightstands and floors, wash bedding and drapes so that any dust kicked up during cleaning is washed from soft surfaces.
When cleaning, use nontoxic cleaners in order to keep harmful chemicals out of the bedroom. Some conventional cleaners may be allergy triggers (and have other health effects).
5. Keep pets away from your bedroom
Pets are important companions and become part of our families. Some pet owners have confessed that their pets eat healthier than they do, showing the importance of their “little fur babies.”
This admiration can lead to pets having access to all rooms in the home, and pets being able to sleep on people’s beds.
Dander and pet hair left behind on pillows, bedding and floor can be an allergy trigger. Sometimes, allergy symptoms can be mild during the day but flair at night due to the direct contact of sleeping in bedrooms with pet dander.
Keeping pets away from your bedroom (and children’s bedrooms) can help in controlling allergy symptoms.
6. De-clutter your bedroom
De-cluttering can go a long way in reducing dust, pet dander, mold, and chemical allergens. Common household products are often made from compressed woods, plastics and polyester which are all made of chemicals that can off-gas VOCs into the bedroom and may cause allergy symptoms.
In addition, the more items in a bedroom the more items to collect dust, mold spores, and pet dander. The more clutter, the more dust in the bedroom.
Consider keeping toys, computers, books, stuffed animals, and other items out of bedrooms leaving only the necessary items for sleeping.
While we often we think of allergies as being caused by outdoor allergens, indoor allergens are common and can keep children and adults up at night. Allergen triggers such as dust mites, mold spores, VOCs and dust are commonly found in bedrooms.
To remove allergens from the bedroom, consider using allergy-proof bedding made of cotton, getting an air purifier with dual filtering ability, keeping the humidity level under 50 percent, cleaning bedrooms properly, keeping pets out of bedrooms, and de-cluttering the bedroom as practical ways to reduce allergens.
Access Sophia's shopping list for her household staples. They're her favorite low toxic items that she can't live without.