Ease Your Allergies With These Simple Tips

Ease Your Allergies With These Simple Tips

 

 

 

Here are some tools I recommend to make allergy season a little less painful.

 

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies—and even if you aren’t one of them, you almost certainly have a friend or family member coping with allergies as pollen counts rise.

Aside from the usual over-the-counter remedies, you can take a few easy steps to remove allergens from your home. There are air filters built into vacuum cleaners that can remove and trap pollen, pet dander, dust mites and other particles. There are washers with a special allergen cycle that can kit dust mites. And a good dehumidifier can prevent mold from growing.

So whether you’re dealing with springtime allergies or year-round issues with household dust and other allergens, here some tools I recommend you use to make allergy season a little less painful.

 

 

Clean Your House With a HEPA Filter Vacuum

 

Unfortunately, not all allergens are in the air. All kinds of dust and grime can get caught in your carpet which will aggravate your allergies with every step. And while serious allergy sufferers may want to consider removing carpet from their homes entirely, most of us can manage with regular vacuuming to suck up dirt before it becomes a problem (weekly vacuuming is ideal).

 

Example: Electrolux EL4021A Silent Performer Bagless Canister Vacuum with 3-in-1 Crevice Tool and HEPA Filter

 

The Electrolux EL402A is a a true silent performer, with their Silence Pro system for minimal noise and disription.  This powerful vacuum provides deep cleaning suction on bare floors and carpets, while its HEPA filter captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants (great for allergy sufferers!).  It also comes with a 3-in-1 crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery nozzle.  This vacuum is bagless and easy to empty.  Read reviews.

 

 

Consider a Roomba or Robotic Mop

 

While vacuuming is a simple solution to allergy problems, it takes a time and effort to do it weekly—and to keep dirt away you may need to vacuum even more often in high-traffic areas or areas frequented by your pets. If you’re having trouble finding the time, the Roomba 980 is the answer.

 

 

 

Despite its petite size, the Roomba 980 can do the cleaning of a conventional vacuum with its AeroForce cleaning system which is more powerful than previous Roombas.

The Roomba 980 cleans an entire level of your home: With Smart Mapping and vSLAM® technology, the Roomba® 980 robot vacuum seamlessly navigates your home, keeping track of where it’s been and where it has yet to clean.  It cleans continuously for up to 120 minutes, then recharges and resumes cleaning until the job is done.

 

 

 

 

The Roomba 980 removes dirt from high traffic spots of your home using patented Dirt Detect™ Technology. Sensors recognize concentrated areas of dirt and prompt the robot to clean them more thoroughly.  At just 3.6 inches tall, the Roomba® robot vacuum is designed to clean under beds, sofas, toe kicks, and other hard-to-reach areas.  Its Cliff Detect sensors prevent the robot from falling down stairs or tumbling over drop-offs.

Its advanced Gen 3 motor gives the Roomba® robot vacuum up to 10x the air power in Performance Mode or when the robot detects it’s cleaning carpet, while its multi-surface brushes work together to pull in pet hair, dust, dirt, and large debris without getting tangled.  Its Edge-Sweeping Brush is specially designed at a 27-degree angle to sweep debris away from edges and corners and into the path of the 3-Stage Cleaning System to be suctioned off your floors.  The 980’s High-Efficiency Filter is made from a special material that captures 99% of dust, mites, and allergens as small as 10 microns.

This little unit is not only powerful, it also utilizes cutting edge technology while being so simple to use:  You can use the IRobot HOME app to set your cleaning schedule up, and its Clean Map reports show where your robot cleaned, along with details such as coverage and duration from completed jobs. Plus, receive Push Notifications when your robot completes a cleaning job – all on your smartphone. Its also compatible on devices with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.  All in all, the Roomba 980 is a terrific little household assistant!

 

While dust and dirt hide in the carpet, the grime on hard floors is often in plain sight. A vacuum will help pick up the dust bunnies, but damp mopping will do a better job of trapping dust and allergens instead of knocking them back in the air. Unfortunately, mopping is another one of those chores you probably don’t do as often as you should—and that won’t help the allergy-sufferers in the household.

Example: iRobot Braava 380t

 

If you can’t find time, outsource your mopping to the iRobot Braava 388t. This bot can sweep and mop using either a washable microfiber cloth or a disposable cloth (it’s compatible with Swiffer pads).

It makes neat back-and-forth passes across the room (three passes when mopping) to thoroughly clean the entire floor, covering up to 1,000 square feet (sweeping) or 350 square feet (mopping).

 

 

 

While it’s a bit less turnkey than the Roomba—you’ll have to replace its cleaning cloth, fill it with water or detergent for mopping, and manually start it each time you want it to run—it’s still a lot easier than doing your own mopping!

 

 

Use an Air Purifier

 

The air in your home could be packed with pollen, dust mites, pet dander and more potential allergy problems. An air purifier will filter the air, catching those particles before they set off your allergies.

Honeywell’s True HEPA Allergen Remover captures 99.97% of microscopic particles, including dust, pollen, tobacco smoke, cooking smoke, fireplace smoke, pet dander, mold spores and even some germs—leaving you with clean, easier to breathe air.

Example: Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover

 

This Honeywell uses a quiet fan to pull air into the unit and through its filters, cycling the room’s air up to five times an hour to keep it allergen-free. This model performs well in large rooms, too, cleaning rooms up to 465 square feet.

Using this purifier is simple, with a push-button panel to turn it on or off and set the cleaning level. Though you will have to change the filters—this Honeywell has two—to keep it cleaning efficiently, a light on the control panel will tell you when it needs replacing, so there’s no guesswork.  This Honeywell Air Purifier is consistently a top-seller good consumer reviews.

 

If you have specific concerns about VOCs (volatile organic compounds), mold, or other toxins, you can test your indoor air quality at home with a Home Air Check kit.  My husband and I did this test, and it was simple to do. 

Home Air Check - The advanced home air test that provides a solution to indoor air quality issues.

Home Air Check offers a variety of test kits, and they are very thorough.  If you need to get to the bottom of a suspected indoor air issue, I highly recommend doing this testing; it will provide you with actionable information and set your mind at ease.

 

Correct Your Air Humidity

 

If the air in your house is too humid (over 50% humidity), it can encourage the growth of mold and dust mites—both common causes of indoor allergies. A dehumidifier will help by removing water from the air and keeping the humidity level down.

 

Frigidaire 50-Pint Dehumidifier With Effortless Humidity Control

 

This Frigidaire will remove up to 50 pints of water from the air before its tank needs to be emptied, meaning should be able to run all day without trouble, even in large rooms.

Operation is, like the name suggests, effortless—all you need to do is press a few buttons to select your desired humidity level and it will run until the tank is almost full.

Though you do have to empty the tank and clean the filter regularly (how often depends on how humid it is), otherwise you can just ignore it—and enjoy cutting down on home allergens.  Read consumer reviews.

 

 

Though humid air can be a problem, dry air can also be a problem, irritating your nose and lungs.

In this case, you’ll want to add some moisture to the air with a humidifier. Among these, the whisper-quiet Air-Joy Premium Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier, remains my favorite.

 

Air-Joy Premium Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

 

The  Air-Joy Premium Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier has a generous 3/4 gallon tank, and can run for 24 hours.  There are 3 timer settings and an automatic shutoff. 

The Air-Joy is whisper quiet, features 9 light settings, and comes with a tank brush and 2 ultrasonic disk cleaning brushes for hassle-free cleaning and maintenance.  User reviews are excellent for the Air-Joy Premium, with many allergy sufferers heaping on the praise.

 

 

Use Your Washing Machine (and Hot Water) to Reduce Allergens

 

Washing bedding regularly—once a week—is key to keep it free of allergy irritating dust and dust mites.

Additionally, washing clothing, especially outerwear, frequently can help prevent members of the household from tracking allergens in from the outside.

You’ll also want to keep bathmats, towels, curtains, cushion slipcovers and throw rugs as clean as possible by throwing them in the wash, if you can (be sure to check the manufacturer’s care instructions first).

A regular cycle in hot water should suffice, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, many reviewers classify the Speed Queen TR3000WN as a great machine (some saying it’s the best one they’ve ever owned!).

 

Speed Queen TR3000WN 26 Inch Top Load Washer with 3.2 cu. ft. Capacity, Stainless Steel Wash Tub, in White
Speed Queen TR3000WN

 

And while we’re talking laundry, make sure you choose hypoallergenic laundry supplies.  Some suggestions:

 

ECOS Laundry Detergent

 

ECOS is made without dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates; it’s dermatologist-tested hypoallergenic, and pH-balanced.  It also has built-in fabric softener to add freshness and reduce static cling (and save money).

 

 

Sun & Earth Hypoallergenic Unscented Natural Fabric Softener Sheets


Sun & Earth uses 100 % plant-based ingredients, which are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, compostable and biodegradable.  These sheets are free from synthetics, scents, and UV brighteners. They are also and are vegan and cruelty-free.

 

Housoft Wool Dryer Balls

If you want to avoid fabric softeners, these Housoft Natural Fabric Softener Dryer Balls are a good alternative.  They are made with 100% organic New Zealand sheep wool, and are especially good for babies or those with sensitive skin.  These dryer balls will soften and de-wrinkle your clothes in the dryer, while also cutting down on dryer time (which saves money and lengthens the life of your clothes).

 

 

Try an Allergy App

 

An allergy app can tell you what today’s forecast means for your allergies, which can help you plan accordingly. My favorite app is WebMD Allergy (for iPhone and Android) which creates a personalized allergy forecast with doctor-approved tips for dealing with your symptoms.

You can also use the app to look up general allergy information and track your symptoms day to day—a handy way to figure out what’s working to help keep your allergies in check!

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information on reducing allergens in your home.  By the way, if you suspect you are having allergic symptoms, but aren’t sure, Walk-In Lab offers discount allergy testing with no doctor’s order required.

 

Walk-In Lab Allergy Test

 

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

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Is Your Indoor Air Making Your Allergies Worse?

Is Your Indoor Air Making Your Allergies Worse?

 

 

Your indoor air quality may be having as big of an effect on your runny nose as your outdoor environment.

 

Your indoor air quality is effected by factors both inside and outside of your home or business. Inside your home, indoor air quality culprits, like chemicals, volatile organic compounds, or molds can be fixed or controlled, but outdoor causes of poor indoor air quality – such as allergens – are something we’re often at the mercy of.

As we pass the first day of spring, indoor air quality is not something typically on our minds. The birds are chirping, trees are budding, and flowers are pushing up through the melting snow. It seems simple enough to open a window to freshen your home and improve your indoor air quality, but you might actually be inviting pollen and other allergens in as well.

If you’re one of the millions who suffers from seasonal allergies, your indoor air quality may be having as big of an effect on your runny nose as your outdoor environment. Seasonal allergies are your immune system’s response to an allergen – like a pollen particle drifting through the air – which often manifests as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, or sneezing. If you’re trying to escape the cornucopia of pollen outdoors and find relief this spring, your indoor air quality can have a big effect on these escape plans.

 

Walk-In Lab Allergy Test

 

 

Check Your Air Ducts and Filters

 

To help keep your indoor air quality free of seasonal allergens, the first step is to have your ducts inspected and filters checked and replaced. Your indoor air quality is bound to be poor if this key part of your HVAC system is dirty or in need of repairs.

Allergens like pollen or dust can collect in your ducts or filters. Your system, doing its best to move air around your home, will actually help perpetuate poor indoor air quality by spreading that pollen to all rooms.

Inspecting your air filters, and replacing them if necessary, is also a key part of promoting good indoor air quality. Beyond providing a quick route to better indoor air quality, it also keeps your HVAC system running effectively which can prevent long-term problems from arising.

In regards to the HVAC, the low quality filters are porous and dion’t trap fine particulates of dust mites and pet dander, so using a high quality HVAC filters for allergies should be a priority.

The Micropartical Performance Rating or MPR is a rating scale created by Filtrete under the 3M company and it rates the filter’s ability to capture the smallest of airborne particles from the air (different companies use different scales).  These particles captured are microscopic, ranging in size from .3-1 micron in size.

The rating helps customers properly evaluate the ability of the Filtrete filtration.  The higher the MPR rating, the better the filter is at capturing the smallest particulates. The most common ratings for Filtrete filters are 300-2800 MPR.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has a slightly different scale for filters called the MERV rating.  This rating goes from 1-16, the higher the rating, the more effective the filter for .3-10 micrometers.

MERV 7 to 13 are almost as effective as true HEPA filters at removing allergens, with much lower associated system and operating costs.  This means that using high quality filters can actually help your HVAC system perform with more efficiency and keep the inside of equipment from accumulating dust.

If you are suffering with allergies, I recommend the Filtrete MPR 2800 Ultrafine Particle Reduction HVAC Filter.  It captures micro-particles  including: PM 2.5 air pollution, exhaust, soot, smoke, cough/sneeze debris, bacteria, viruses, and lint, dust, and pollen, and its electrostatic air filter has a Microparticle Performance Rating of 2800 (7 times better than non-electrostatic pleated filters).  It captures 0.3 to 1.0 micron particles, and will last for up to 3 months.

Filtrete MPR 2800 Ultrafine Particle Reduction HVAC Filter

 

 

Cleaning to Improve Indoor Air Quality

 

Vacuum With a HEPA Filter

Cleaning is an obvious choice for improving your indoor air quality. Vacuuming hard surfaces that pollens may collect on can help reduce the buildup of allergens, and using a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (or HEPA) filter can also help improve your indoor air quality.

Consumer Reports recommends the Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 as the best vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.  Strong airflow for tools and superb pet-hair pickup are top attractions of this Kenmore bagged upright. While you can get a fine performer for less, its price includes helpful features such as a brush on/off switch, which safeguards a bare floor’s finish and prevents scattering of debris; suction control (protects drapes); and manual carpet pile-height adjustment.

 

 

 

 

Use a HEPA Filter Air Purifier

HEPA filter air purifiers, either stand-alone units or professionally installed systems, can have a huge effect on your indoor air quality by offering a high grade of filtration and purification from more than just pollen.

Particle allergens such as mold, dander, and pollen are just a few of the antagonists found in the common household. Some of the best air purifiers will remove virtually all these airborne particles in a few hours or even less, ensuring you breathe pure air. While there may be some health benefits, these machines can be particularly life changing for people who suffer from allergies.

One of the most popular air purifiers currently is GermGuardian’s air cleaning system.  The GermGuardian AC4825 is a 22 inch tall, 3 speed tower with UV-C light and Titanium Dioxide technology. This will purge the air in rooms up to 400 square feet quite efficiently.  Judging by the rave reviews and some old fashioned comparison shopping, this unit is truly a great value.

 

 

It’s quiet, very lightweight and easy to move from room-to-room if you do so choose. The one two combo punch of a charcoal and HEPA filter kicks nasty particles to the curb. The Germguardian AC4825 also has its Energy Start qualification, meaning you are doing right by the environment and not sucking up an excessive amount of electrical energy to power it.

 

 

EnviroKlenz Natural Cleaning Products

 

 

Your Air Conditioner Can Help

Your air conditioner can actually be a key part of keeping pollen out and having good indoor air quality. Pollen is water soluble; since your air conditioner was made to remove water from the air, a well-functioning unit can improve your indoor air quality just by doing what it does best.

While you may not associate snow with mold, your indoor air quality can be affected by molds released from its winter cover as the snow melts. Mold spores are released into the air as rotting leaves and autumn’s debris are uncovered and heated up by warmer temperature. This can have a great effect on your indoor air quality, especially if your air intake is near to the ground or has been covered by organic matter.

 

Consider a portable air conditioner (even if you have central air).   Just because you have central air conditioning doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from a portable air conditioner. One of the leading causes of allergies is dust mites and mold spores. Sometimes central air conditioners can house these on their filters. Filters can be changed, but why not have back up.

Portable air conditioners offer removable and washable filters for easy cleaning. And this filter collects the allergens your central air conditioning unit doesn’t. In some cases – living in an apartment or dorm – you don’t maintenance the air conditioning system. If that’s the case, then having a portable air conditioner as back up is vital.

Portable air conditioners comfortably cool areas of your home that your central system doesn’t reach. Not only that but if you plan on entertaining and you need a little extra cooling, portable air conditioners are great options. They can pick up the slack when your system is not running. Your central air system can use all the help it can get.

A portable air conditioner doesn’t cost a lot to run; it can help cut your energy costs. You can use it to cool exclusive areas without running your central unit.

 

 

This bestselling BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner With Remote Control has excellent reviews on Amazon.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Testing Your Indoor Air Quality

 

You can test your home’s indoor air quality quite easily on your own with a testing kit.  If a specific problem is found, you can then assess whether you can handle the issue or need to call the appropriate professional to take care of it.

My husband and I did this testing in our home, and it was a simple process, which saved us from paying a professional for a service call to do the testing for us (using a similar testing device).

There is a good variety of indoor air testing kits available to consumers these days, so there is really no reason to feel you have to call someone if you suspect your home’s air is causing health problems.

We used the Home Air Check, and were very satisfied with it.  Their testing device  provides a comprehensive picture of chemical levels that you are breathing when in the home. It also indicates a level of actively growing mold present in the home. Since these chemicals are tested simultaneously, this sophisticated analysis becomes less expensive than arranging for a professional to come out charge you for their time and several separate tests.

Also, the samples are collected without the use of toxic chemicals, so there are no health risks using Home Air Check. We were happy with the level of completeness, sophistication, prediction, and value of Home Air Check.

The Home Air Check Indoor Air Test measures VOC’s, formaldehyde and mold.

 

 

This is how the testing process works:

You use a small sampling device to collect an air sample in your home. The sampling time takes about 2 hours.  Full instructions are included in the kit (and it is very straightforward).

After the sample is collected,  you return the complete kit to the Home Air Check laboratory, where they analyze the air sample using sophisticated state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation for hundreds of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in home air. In addition, they look for 21 specific mold compounds that can be generated when mold is actively growing in a home.

A detailed report is then generated. In this report will be a Total VOC concentration level – a total of all the VOCs found in your home. The US Green Building Council recommends a TVOC level of less than 500 ng/L to be considered a healthy environment. (The median US home is about 1,200 ng/L.) A total concentration of Mold VOCs is also listed. Generally, this number should be less than 8 ng/L or you have active mold growth you need to find.

The report also includes a Contamination Index, which gives you a prediction of which sources or materials in your home may be responsible for these contaminating chemicals, such as gasoline, paint, adhesives, odorants, personal care products, etc. Home Air Check emails you the report within 5 business days of receipt of your air sample. You can then use their phone or chat line support to answer any questions you have and to help you improve your air quality.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information. 

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

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