Ever find yourself sneezing uncontrollably in your apartment? Do you wake up with watery eyes or a stuffy nose? Believe it or not, your apartment could be (and likely is) littered with allergens.
In fact, most U.S. homes have been exposed to dust mites, pollen and pet dander, and some apartments may even have cockroaches–those little buggers cause allergic reactions in some people.
However, before you start cringing (though it may be too late), you should know there are solutions! Take a weekend and get to work improving the air quality of your apartment.
Here are some tips for banishing allergens faster than you can say dermatophagoides farinae:
Cover Your Bed
Some bedding manufacturers have released products that will help you bust dust mites. These anti-bug sheets are essentially sheaths that fit over your mattress and zip closed.
The material used in these products repels dust mites and other bugs, preventing them from settling where you sleep—no more cuddling with your allergens!
You can find anti-bug sheets wherever you buy bedding. For example, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Sears all carry a version of the cover. Be sure you get the right size for your mattress.
You can also purchase the anti-bug covers for your pillows. These zippered sheaths fit over your pillow and under your pillow case.
Wet Dust Your Apartment
Many people’s allergies are triggered by dust, which settles on surfaces in your apartment. Dusting can get rid of these pesky particles, but only if you use the right plan of action. Dry dusting simply lifts the dust off one surface and makes it airborne until it settles on another.
Instead of getting out your feather duster, reach for a wet or clinging alternative. Furniture sprays, wipes and clinging dusters trap the mites, preventing them from moving to another spot in your apartment.
Consider wearing a mask when you dust so you’re less likely to inhale the particles. You can even tie a bandana over your nose like a robber in an old Western.
Decorative elements in your apartment are nice, but you should avoid overcrowding your space. Whether you have a huge collection of Precious Moments or an affinity for leaving piles of junk mail, clutter tends to attract dust.
By organizing your apartment and clearing out the things you don’t need, you’ll reduce the production of dust mites in your living space—that means less sneezing and more easy breathing.
Wash Bedding Frequently
Your sheets, pillows and blankets can accumulate mites, even if your covered mattress doesn’t. You’ll kill the most mites and reduce the amount of allergens in your apartment by washing bedding (and even stuffed animals) once a week in hot water.
If you can choose the temperature of your water, you should select 130 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The mites can’t withstand such a hot temperature.
Don’t forget to grab throw blankets and pillow covers you have in other rooms of your apartment.
If your apartment doesn’t have a fan in your bathroom or over your stove, ask your landlord to install one. Exhaust fans pull moisture from the room to prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew.
Once you have exhaust fans, don’t forget to use them. Leave the bathroom fan on until after your mirror is unfogged. If you’re having the fan installed, ask your landlord to give it its own switch. That way, when you leave the fan on, you won’t have to keep the light on.
Change Air Filters Often
Many air conditioning and heating units contain air filters, which capture dust and pollen. Check the filters every month to see how dirty it is. In many cases, you’ll want to replace it at that time. In other instances, you may only need to change the filter once every few months.
The weather, time of year and amount of allergens in your apartment will affect the frequency with which you must change your air filters.
Vacuum Weekly or Biweekly
Be sure to frequently vacuum the carpets and rugs in your apartment—doing so helps remove allergens of all types. As with dusting, vacuuming can potentially spread allergens around, so you should use the right machine.
HEPA filters help to trap allergens while you vacuum, so purchase a model that has one.
Embrace Hard Floors
Carpets and rugs can trap allergens, making them a bit of a nuisance to allergy sufferers. If your apartment has hardwood floors, you’re lucky. Simply don’t put down a rug—that’s probably the easiest tip on this list!
If you must have a fluffy surface on which to walk, you have options. Seek a low-pile rug, as these models trap fewer particles than high-pile versions.
Clean Often and Well
Pet hair, dust mites and pollen can enter your apartment despite your best efforts to keep them out. You’re best line of defense at this point is to clean religiously.
Use a lint roller to remove pet hair from your sofa. You can also employ the attachments on your vacuum to clean the fabric.
Dust, vacuum, sweep and mop regularly. Ideally, you should also wipe down your kitchen and bathroom counters daily.
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