Here is a few things I do to try to cut down on the amount of allergens I have in my home over the long winter months. I hope you find them useful.
Vacuum- get a good vacuum that has a HEPA filter in it. Even some smaller ones come with removable, washable filters. Vacuum twice a day once in the morning and once before bed. I think I prefer the bag as it traps in dust as opposed to dumping an open canister into the garbage, because inevitably it will come back up into my face and I start sneezing. But this is the one that I use and it can be used as a push vacuum or take the canister off and use it for stairs.
Don’t forget to run the vacuum or move those pesky appliances as well. A lot of dirt, dust and allergens get swept under there without you even realizing it. I would suggest doing this every couple weeks. Another place is under the couch, if you have a dog like I do, then hair gets everywhere, but with the scratching and the heater blowing it around, under the furniture and all the appliance need a good vacuuming or sweeping a little more often in the winter depending on the dog you have. I live with a husky and with the warm temp inside she sheds like crazy, where my smaller dogs don’t shed much until summer.
Install HEPA filters on heating systems and make sure they get changed regularly. Usually every 3 months or so is good. Sometimes in the winter you may need to change it more.
Get an air purifier- I have 2 one is in my living room and one is set up in my bedroom. They have indicators when they need changed. I leave them running all through the year. It will help pull allergens in thru the front where the filter is and send fresh air out the other side. Plus I think the air circulation is nice. I use an upright like this in my living-room and I use the smaller one in the bedroom, they are more than adequate for the size of rooms, I wash the filters out about once a month in hot soapy water. the other I change every other month.
Try not to sleep with your pets. I can’t do this because I have two little ones that are needy and can’t seem to be on their own, even long enough for me to go to the bathroom. They are as bad as a toddler that needs momma. Lol. But if you can’t sleep without them, try training them to sleep on their own bed at the end of the room, or beside your bed near the floor. I try to keep one of my air purifiers running near the bed to help pull in the allergen from the dogs and it blows cool air on me to sleep better.
Every week or so, maybe even every other week, wash your curtains if you have them. That way anything that has blown around will be gotten rid of. Wipe down your Venetian blinds, especially the tops where dust will build up the most.
Check your ceilings for webs, it will trap dust and dirt particles in it, just use the attachment on your vacuum and suck them up. Watch for spiders if you do, they will end up in the canister.
Also, if you have a ceiling fan, it can be reversed so that it helps push the warm air back down and circulates it better.
Clean your ceiling fan and blades off every few days if you have them. If you do it a couple times a week it wouldn’t take more than a damp rag and just wiping it down, but if you have let it go for a while, just take a pillow case and pull over the blade, one at a time, and grab on top and on bottom and pull toward the end of the blade, this way all the dust will fall into the case. I usually just have one of my grandkids take it outside and shake it out and throw it into the washer.
Get a bed bug, mite proof covers for your bed and pillows. Make sure your bed doesn’t sit on the floor. Even just a cheap metal frame will be fine. If you do get bugs, whether it is bed bugs, dust mites, lice or whatever it may be, they like to live in dark warmer places and can live a long time. So by picking your bed up that leaves fewer places for them to hide.
If you have one, a humidifier works wonders. Too much humidity and you can cause mold, not enough and it will dry your skin, lips and nasal passages and with dry nasal passage it will allow more allergens into your body also could dry out your eyes and cause them to burn. If you don’t have a humidifier, what I used to do was take a shower and leave the door open, if you can’t, just leave it open when you are done; it will still put some moisture in the air. I also have a pot that I used to make tea in. I just leave the lid off while I am using it. As the water heats it puts moisture in the air and will continue until it cools down. You should try to keep your humidity between 45-55%.
If you have allergens to things like mold as I do, make sure you always wipe down the bathroom really well. In the winter a lot of toilets tend to sweat and that condensation can create a breeding ground for molds and spores. Also, when I take a shower I have a loofah just for the walls, give them a quick wipe down with soap, I use whatever soap is lying around, rinse and then get out. There is no need to worry about it bothering you because you are just using your own soap. And you won’t have to scrub near as often, which I give it a thorough cleaning about once a month this way. I try to avoid chemicals if at all possible.
You can also wear a dust mask while you are doing your housework, to protect your sinus passages from getting bombarded with all the allergens being disturb throughout the house. I wear one usually when I am pulling down the curtains, cleaning ceiling fans or cleaning under the appliances. These are the main areas that dust, dirt and hair will be kicked up and sent into the air.
Wipe down your counter tops in the kitchen and bathroom to make sure there is no water on them, or behind the faucet area, this is another area mold likes to form. Also, making sure you wipe things down can prevent the occasional little food mess on the wall that you didn’t see when your grandkid decided to toss his plate from three feet away into the sink.
Check all your windows and the sills to make sure there is no moisture dripping onto the wood frame to cause mold especially with older windows, when the outside weather is colder than the inside it will cause condensation to form and drip to the frame and sometimes down the walls. With curtains this may be harder to catch as in winter a lot of people keep the curtains closed to help retain heat.
Some days in the winter months when I am going to be home alone for a few hours, I will open the windows for an hour or so just to let the fresh air in. Usually on days the temp is above 40 and I am the only one there. Just bundle up a bit, drink a nice hot cocoa and let the fresh air in.
I always keep a container of saline spray like this one and eye drops in my purse at all times. I know some people don’t like Walmart, there are other stores, but I like a lot of the Equate products. With the saline it is just to put moisture into your sinuses so you really don’t have to spend a fortune on it. There has been a rare occasion that I have run out of saline; I usually just make a cup of hot tea and inhale the steam from that for a bit. I try to avoid medications at all cost, I have found that after a while your body seems to get used to them and they do no good. The package says only use for a few days anyway. Flonase is a good product to use, but it can burn your nose. Equate makes a Non-Drowsy Fluticasone which has the same ingredients in it, just a lower price. Also, using a Nettie pot like this one from NeilMed they are reasonable in price and come with quite a few packets of saline in it. Use it every couple days to flush out the sinus passages works wonders. Some people have a hard time with this, for one your body isn’t used to it, so it can feel very weird, for two, some people have said they feel like they are gagging. Yes it can come out of your mouth and that is fine, it is just cleaning all the passage ways. But I recommend at least trying it. I find it helps a lot. There are other designs also, but I like this one. When you first try using them remember 2 main things, it’s GOING to feel weird, relax and breathe slowly through your mouth.
Oh and one final thing, with the Fluticasone, Flonase or any allergy medicine try to get non-drowsy for the time of day you will be working or out running errands as some products, like the Flonase and some allergy pills will stay in your system for 12 hours or more and cause marked drowsiness.
I hope you enjoy these tips and find them useful. If you have any that I haven’t talked about feel free to add them in the comment section and I can add them to the list. Working together maybe we can figure out a good way to ease the pain and suffering from the dreaded allergies.