I happen to live near one of the most congested cities in America (Philadelphia). And when I'm talking congestion, I'm talking nasal congestion, not traffic congestion—though congestion on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia could challenge the Long Island Expressway, near where I grew up, on any given day.
According to a recent survey by the makers of Breathe Right nasal strips (a product my husband relies on nightly to help him breathe while sleeping), Philadelphia is the 10th most congested city in America; Oklahoma City is number one. Another survey, this time the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's 2011 Fall Allergy Capitals rankings report, says that Philadelphia is the 21st most challenging place to live in America if you have spring and fall allergies.
While I spend all spring trying to keep my home allergen free, I can't forget that fall is also a time for home allergies. If you suffer from fall allergies or find that all of a sudden this fall you seem to have a cold—but it lingers without getting better or worse—you could have allergies.
To help minimize allergens in your home and improve indoor air quality, here are 4 tips to help you keep your home allergen-free this fall:
- Reduce indoor air irritants. If you're painting your house, consider purchasing paints that are marketed as low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Low-VOC paints are less likely to irritate the allergy-sensitive. If you've recently had water damage to your house, make sure you've cleaned up to avoid mold growth—since mold can cause allergic reactions in certain sensitive folks.
- Control dust mites. The best way to keep dust mites to a minimum is to wash bed linens at least once a week in hot water exceeding 130 degrees. (I'm about to head into the bedrooms to strip all the beds, thanks to this tip.) Also, removing carpeting from bedrooms and draperies from rooms can also cut down on dust mites.
- Be careful when doing your chores. To reduce your exposure to airborne particles, consider wearing a facemask when dusting, choosing scent-free cleaning products, and using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Rely on filters. A portable air filter can reduce allergens in a room, as I discovered when we tried out a portable air filter in my daughter's room to terrific results. In addition, if you have a forced air heating and cooling system, change filters at least four times per year—or based on the recommendation on the filter itself (some are good for 30 days only).
With these tips in mind—and put into practice—you could go a long way towards avoiding a sneeze-filled fall. Achoo!