Allergy attacks can hit anyone - they are your body’s natural response to allergens. These same allergens can have little effect on somebody else, but provoke a full bout of itching and wheezing from you. And if you don’t work to get rid of the allergens at home, the allergic bouts won’t stop.
So put those anti-histamine tablets aside, and try these 7 simple hacks to allergy-proof your living space.
1. Filter Out the Allergens
The numbers are staggering - more than 344 million people worldwide suffered from asthma in 2014 according to a report compiled by the Global Asthma Network. That’s a worrying statistic. We recommend getting a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t just suck dirt, but also takes care of you. Move over plain old suction dustbags, we’re talking HEPA filters. HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters have the added advantage of being able to remove tiny allergens like spores, pollen and bacteria.
Choose a vacuum cleaner that has a washable HEPA filter - not only does it keep your costs down because you can wash and reuse, it can filter out more allergens than ordinary dust bags, which make them highly suitable for allergy sufferers. If you suffer from allergies, you will probably also have to vacuum more than usual - so opt for a “quiet” vacuum cleaner that won’t wake the family while you clean. For a low-maintenance option, choose a bagless vacuum cleaner to reduce the hassle of constantly having to replace dust bags – saving you time and it’s friendlier for the environment too.
2. Flush Out Potential Dust Traps
While you may love to unwind with a book every evening, consider this - bookcases are one of the biggest dust traps in most homes, which normally go unnoticed. So keep your books in cabinets with doors, and try to cut down on the number of open storage cupboards in your home - a great way to declutter and also get rid of dust-attracting furniture. Carpets attract - and trap - dust, making them one of the biggest causes of allergy attacks. If you can, go for hardwood or easy-to-clean laminate. If you don’t want to give up the comfort of soft thick-shag carpet under your feet, consider investing in good vacuum cleaners fitted with a turbo brush, for better dust pick-up. Alternatively, have a try at low-pile rugs which don’t trap allergens as easily, and be sure to vacuum them once a week.
3. Slippers in the Home
Shoes don’t just pick up outdoor dust and allergens, they also track dirt into your home and make cleaning up all-round more difficult. So instead of wearing your footwear into the home, consider buying each family member their own pair of fluffy slippers - now we’re talking clean and comfortable! Installing and keeping a shoe rack by the main door reminds your family members to switch out their footwear when entering the home - keeping your doorway neat and free of clutter.
4. Chase Mold Out of the Way
Mold flourishes in moist conditions, and we all know your kitchen and bathrooms are the most prone to being breeding grounds for mold. When cleaning, check cracks or sealant areas around sinks and tubs carefully to see if mold is forming. If you see moldy parts, nip them in the bud by giving a good hard scrub, and dry them well so mold doesn’t resurface. Remember to clear dormant containers of water (dengue is not an allergen, but also a threat) and consider installing a dehumidifier in the most damp and wet areas of your home to keep away mold and mildew.
5. Dander and Pollen - Keep Them at Bay
Allergies to dog or pet dander and pollen are just two of the most common allergies we experience. If you suspect you may be allergic to pet dander, get tested before you decide to buy a pet. If you’re already a pet owner, try to minimise having your pets sleep in your bedroom and definitely not on your bed where their dander can cause breathing difficulties. Keep your pets clean and groomed regularly. As for those of you with green thumbs, just like pets, try to keep your plants outdoors. If you can’t give up your gardening hobby or enjoy having greenery around, consider artificial plants, terrariums or even hydroponic gardening instead for a sneeze-free experience.
6. Pleather is Pleasant
For furniture, choose easy-to-clean and lower maintenance materials like leather or pleather, which generally don’t trap dust and can be wiped clean for convenience. But if you can’t resist the texture and comfort of suede, linen, shag or fabric couches, make sure you give them a good vacuum at least once a month. Certain vacuum brands carry special brush nozzles meant specifically to clean upholstery and fabric sofas. These use a gentle pressure that prevents too much wear and tear or accidental soiling, and the soft brushes help pick up dust and dirt more effectively. Try to avoid heavy drapes for your windows and go for venetian blinds or light, gauzy materials which are easy to wash.
7. Sunshine and a Good Workout
After giving your sheets a good wash, try to sun them whenever possible to get any allergens out. UV rays from the sun help kill dust mites and microbes. If sunning your laundry is difficult due to the weather or space constraints in the drying area - use the steaming iron to disinfect your sheets and clothing instead. It's best to wash your clothes in hot water between 45 to 60 degrees Celsius. When they are dry, hit them with a laundry beater to get rid of any other dust balls which may have settled in your sheets. Keep dust down to a minimum by storing clothes (e.g. winter wear) which you won’t use for a long time - that saves time, space and helps keep things neat and dust free!