Greenbrier Valley Real Estate Blog
Wednesday, March 16 2011
Exposure to allergens can cause reactions in both adults and children. While it isn’t possible to completely eliminate allergens from our indoor environment, there are steps that you can take to reduce their presence and effects. Let’s take a look at some of the most common household allergens and ways to control them.
Dust mites – Dust mites are present in most homes and generally do not cause significant allergic reactions if kept at lower levels. These microscopic mites live in house dust, feeding on dust components such as bacteria, fungi, and dead skin cells from humans and pets. Mites do not bite, and prefer warm, humid conditions. To help control the levels of dust mites in the home, use mite-proof covers for bed pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Wash sheets weekly in water that’s at least 130°F / 54°C and have blankets and comforters cleaned regularly. It’s also a good idea to remove stuffed toys from the home; if you must keep a few, be sure to wash them frequently. Either eliminate carpets or vacuum them weekly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to trap dust. Lowering the humidity in the home to around 50 percent will also help control the dust mite population.
Mold – Contact with or inhaling mold spores can cause allergic reactions in some people. All types of mold need moisture to thrive, so eliminating sources of moisture is the first step in avoiding mold problems. In bathrooms with showers or tubs, open a window or use an exhaust fan to ventilate the area during and after use. If shower curtains and bath mats become moldy, wash them in hot water or replace them. Check for water leaks in ceilings and attics, under sinks, on ice-maker supply lines, and on water hoses connected to the washing machine and utility sink. During warm weather, using air conditioning will help keep the humidity levels down.
Pet dander – According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of North America, between 15 and 30 percent of people with allergies have reactions to cats and/or dogs, with cat allergies being more common. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t pet hair or fur that causes pet-related allergic reactions. Rather, it is the proteins in pet dander – the tiny particles of dead skin shed by the animal – or in the pet’s saliva or urine that cause these reactions. Short of finding a new home for your pet, there are a few steps you can take to reduce exposure to these allergens. Keep pets out of bedrooms, and be sure that their sleeping areas are easy to clean. Regular bathing of your pets can reduce the amount of allergens they spread. Thoroughly vacuum carpets and rugs if you have them; an even better choice is hard surface flooring such as hardwood or laminates.
In addition to the tips above, a regular cleaning regimen will go a long way to reducing allergens and allergic reactions in the home. Establish a weekly routine of damp-mopping hard flooring surfaces, and remove dust from carpets with a HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaner. Using a dust mask during these tasks can help prevent inhalation of allergen carriers such as house dust. Replace or clean filters from furnaces and air conditioning units according to the manufacturers’ instructions. By following these steps, your home will look cleaner, you’ll enjoy it more, and your family’s exposure to allergens will be significantly reduced.
CRS Chapters and Chapter Members are authorized to use this article courtesy of Pillar To Post Home Inspection.