Jeff Flowers on November 9, 2015 1 Comment The changing of the season signals chillier days, falling leaves, and surge of fall allergies. While there’s not much you can do to beat allergens outdoors, there is still plenty of ways to keep allergens from affecting you indoors. This is especially important as we enter into cold and flu season. In order to make sure that your home is a sanctuary against potential germs and allergens instead of a breeding ground for them, it’s best that you start preparing now so that you and your family will be well-protected during the cold and flu season. To help you accomplish this, we have compiled eight tips that you’ll most definitely want to start putting into action as soon as possible. These will help not only “allergy-proof” your home, but also take proactive measures to keep your family healthy and ready for the cold winter. Purchase Your Air Purifier at AllergyAndAir.com 1. Buy an Air Purifier The most effective way to improve your indoor air quality while simultaneously protecting your family from airborne allergens, is to buy an air purifier for your home. These devices are designed to remove and trap potential allergens that may be contaminating the air you breathe. During the cold winter months, you will probably be inside more often, so improving the air you breathe will go a long way in protecting the health of you and your family. There are many types of air purifiers to consider, not to mention many other buying factors that will undoubtedly play a role in your decision. But the one thing we would strongly recommend is to buy an air purifier that has a HEPA filter. This is the most efficient and allergy-friendly type of filter you can in your home. In a perfect world, we would recommend putting a HEPA air purifier in every room of your house, but we do realize that this isn’t a feasible solution for most families, despite the tremendous indoor air quality improvements you would receive by doing so. Instead, place a HEPA air purifier in the most used rooms of your home, such as your living room or bed room. Especially for those that suffer from allergies the worst. This will do wonders for the air they breathe, as well as offer another tool in the fight against winter allergies. Must Read: The 5 Best Air Purifiers for Allergies Find Your HVAC Filter at AllergyAndAir.com 2. Change the Air Filters in Your HVAC System If you can’t remember the last time that you changed the filters in your home’s HVAC system, then you should change it out as soon as possible. Changing out your air filters is not only incredibly important for your indoor air quality, but the act also helps protect and extend the life of your HVAC system. You should do this on a regular basis. However, for the sake of this article and to help you prepare your home for winter, you should change out your air filter shortly before winter arrives. This could be now, or in a month; It all depends on where you live and what the weather is like outside your home. Dirty air filters not only prevent the HVAC unit from trapping airborne allergens, but they may also blow out these potentially dangerous particles through the vents which may lead to you or your family getting sick. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that you change out your furnace filters if you think you’ll be using your heating unit throughout the winter months. Doing this will help keep dust mite feces, pet dander, mold, and other allergens from re-circulating through the air in your home. Be sure to change the filters often throughout the cold months. Find Your Humidifiers at AllergyAndAir.com 3. Buy a Humidifier When the winter weather starts to roll in, humidifiers are one of the best appliances you can have around your home. This is because in your attempt to stay warm, you turn on your heater which then leads to drier air in your home. From dry skin to asthma symptoms, dry air can lead to a whole host of problems, and this is especially true if you suffer from allergies. While warmer temperatures are preferred in the winter, they usually mean that the humidity levels in your home are much lower than they should be to keep your allergies in check. With a humidifier helping you maintain the proper levels of relative humidity in your home, you can make sure that your nasal passages are getting the moisture they need to naturally get rid of any allergens you’re breathing in. Another benefit of humidifiers is that they help prevent itchy, dry skin, as well as alleviate or prevent many of the cold-like symptoms associated with common respiratory problems. Even though there may be some form of moisture wafting down from the winter skies, chances are that it’s warm and dry inside your home. Which is why a humidifier is essential for everyone, not just allergy sufferers. Read More: 10 Houseplants That Improve Your Indoor Air Quality 4. Buy Air-Purifying Houseplants In 1989, NASA did a study on various houseplants had the ability to naturally cleanse and purify the air in your home. Due to this research, we now know which houseplants have the ability to purify the air, as well as how effective they are at doing so. For example, English Ivy is a great plant for absorbing one of the most prevalent air pollutants — formaldehyde. It’s also a great plant to have around if you have a mold problem inside. Peace Lilly’s are another fantastic plant to have around, especially for combating a well-known paint carcinogen called VOC benzene. Lady Palm will become your respiratory system’s best friend by scrubbing the air of ammonia, and the Snake Plant will lower the amount of carbon dioxide in your home while supplying you with extra oxygen as you sleep. Please Note: While NASA has proven that some houseplants can help improve your indoor air quality, they will never accomplish what an air purifier can do. We don’t want to discourage you from buying these plants, but just know that they are not miracle workers, but just another tool to help you improve your air quality. Most importantly, many of these “healthy houseplants” are actually toxic to animals. So, before you rush out and fill your home with these plants, be sure to do the proper research to help protect your furry loved ones. Read More: The Hidden Health Dangers of Dust Mites 5. Dust Frequently Simply dusting and keeping your home free of clutter can also go a long way in keeping you from sneezing, sniffling, and scratching throughout the cold winter months. At least once every couple of weeks, take a damp rag and wipe down your bed frame, counter-tops, shelves or any other surface that may have a layer of dust starting to build up. Just cleaning up all the dust in your home will help keep your allergy symptoms at a minimum, as well as help preserve the quality of your indoor air. Additionally, dusting frequently will also help get rid of dust mites, one of the most common triggers for allergies, especially in the winter when you spend more time indoors. Purchase a Vacuum Cleaner or Steam Cleaner at AllergyAndAir.com 6. Regularly Vacuum & Steam Clean Your Carpets Now that you’ve dusted your entire house, we would recommend vacuuming and/or steam cleaning your floors shortly afterwards. A vacuum cleaner will help suck up any dust, pet dander or other allergens from your carpet. It’s always best to vacuum after dusting, because any dust that isn’t captured in your damp cloth will likely settle on the floors. We’ve compiled a list of vacuum cleaning tips to help ensure that you get the most dirt and debris out of your carpets as possible. This will go a long way in preventing allergy symptoms. The type of vacuum cleaner you use and how often you use it is really up to you, but we would recommend doing it often, especially in the high-traffic areas of your home. This is especially important if you have pets, as dander can build up quickly and trigger your allergies if not cleaned up quickly. If you are currently shopping for a vacuum cleaner, we would recommend buying a unit with a HEPA Filter, as this will be the most effective at trapping allergens. Once you have your floors thoroughly vacuumed, we would also recommend using a steam cleaner to further sanitize your floors. Unlike a traditional vacuum cleaner, a steam cleaning unit utilizes the high temperatures of steam to kill off dust mites and other microscopic organisms that may be living on your floors. Purchase Hypoallergenic Bedding at AllergyAndAir.com 7. Change Your Bedding It’s not only wise and sanitary to wash your bedding on a regular basis, but it’s incredibly important for anyone that frequently suffers from allergies. Every night, you lay your head down on your pillow and you sleep for hours and hours at a time. A large portion of your day is spent in your bed, so ensuring that your bed is free of dust mites, bed bugs, pet dander and other common allergens is one of the smartest things you can do to keep you healthy. To help you achieve this, you should look into buying hypoallergenic bedding. Hypoallergenic bedding consists of comforters, mattress covers and pillow covers, all of which are specifically designed to create a healthier sleep environment and prevent the build-up of allergens in your bed. Whether you replace all of your bedding or not is up to you, but at the very least we would strongly suggest buying a dust mite mattress cover. Mattresses are the perfect environment for dust mites to thrive, and unlike your pillows, you can’t just throw it in the washing machine to kill off dust mites or bed bugs. A dust mite cover for your mattress will create a barrier that not only makes it harder for these microscopic pests to thrive, but also helps prevents them from agitating your allergies. Read More: How to Prevent Bathroom Mold from Taking Over 8. Pay Attention to Your Bathroom You clean and groom yourself in your bathroom every day, but did you know that this area can become one of the biggest hazards to your health and your allergies? If you have wallpaper in your bathroom, beware that mold can grow underneath if there’s too much moisture in the environment. You may want to consider taking that wallpaper down and painting your bathroom walls instead. This will help create an environment that is less susceptible to the growth of mold. You should also wash or replace your shower curtains at least once a month to keep them from growing mold. There are also antifungal shower curtains that you may consider buying. Whenever you clean your bathroom, you should also give your toothbrush holder a thorough scrubbing as well. This often forgot about area can be a haven for soap scum, mold or mildew. All of which are potential triggers to allergies. Read More: How Air Purifiers Help Reduce Chemicals in Your Air 9. Don’t Use Chemical Cleaners While you’re giving your home a good scrubbing, try to do so without using chemical-based cleaners. Instead, opt for cleaning fluids that are more natural or plant-based. You’d be surprised at how well vinegar and baking soda can clean your home. We do realize that not every spot or stain in your home can be conquered with all-natural cleansers, but just the act of cutting down on the chemicals you use in your home will go a long way in improving your indoor air quality. Even though we briefly touched on this above, it’s worth noting again that steam cleaners are the best way to truly clean and sanitize your carpets, as well as your tile floors, hardwood floors, curtains and mattresses. This is because the steam cleaner uses extreme heat to kill off dust mites that may be lingering in your carpet, bed or furniture. Not only is it more beneficial to you and your allergies to use a steam cleaner, it also cuts down on the amount of chemicals you use in your home. And that’s a great thing for everyone! 10. Don’t Neglect Your Kitchen Even if you already make it routine to clean up after cooking in the kitchen, it’s easy to overlook some of the more important aspects of making your kitchen allergen-free. Simply wiping up the spills on the oven or counter-tops is great when it comes to keeping your kitchen looking good, but it’s not always enough. Just like your bathroom, you’ll want your kitchen to be well-ventilated. This will prevent humidity from building up, as well as make it easier to remove the odor of burnt food — both of which contribute to poor air quality. You’ll also want to keep your walls from collecting grease, dust and water. These are all factors that contribute to an unfavorable environment for allergy sufferers. You should especially make sure that you wipe away the water that sometimes accumulates around the sink. Focus on that small area behind the faucet, where the countertop meets the wall. Even if you have a back-splash that prevents water from seeping into the walls, mold and mildew may start to grow if it’s not cleaned up in a timely manner. Another area that is commonly overlooked is the drip pan underneath your fridge. This can become a breeding ground for mold, so be sure to give it a good scrubbing every now and then. As you can tell, mold is one of the biggest issues when it comes to the kitchen. Mold spores are one of the major contributors to allergy symptoms, so clean and scrub anything and everything in your home where there is moisture involved. Like all areas in your home, it’s best that you keep your kitchen uncluttered, clean, and dry. The Importance of Allergy-Proofing Your Home in Winter As you’re pulling out old blankets, snow boots, heavy jackets, and sweaters in preparation for the fall and winter, don’t forget to prepare and clean your home. You will likely be spending more time inside, and the last thing you want is to get sick because of all the allergy triggers inside. Spring isn’t the only time to give your house a good makeover. By taking the time now, you’ll give you and your family a better chance at staying healthy during cold and flu season.