Keep the windows closed. Cooler weather may have you dialling down the air conditioner and opening the windows, but your screens aren't going to block out pollen and other allergens. Experts recommend keeping the windows closed -- both in your car and your home -- when the pollen count is high, especially during peak hours from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. (Ragweed produces its pollen between 5:00 am and 10:00 am, so you may want to close your windows first thing in the morning.) If it's hot outside, use your AC instead as it will help filter out allergens in the air.
Also, bear in mind that while rainy, wet days will keep the pollen at bay, but mould spores will be worse.
Clean your air filters and ducts. Before you fire up your furnace, clean out your ducts to prevent all that accumulated mould and dust from being blown through your home. Be sure to change or clean your air filters on a regular basis (preferably once a month) to make sure they're functioning at their best. Experts recommend high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to keep allergens to a minimum.
If you live in an apartment or condo that has base-board heating rather than forced-air, a stand-alone filter can help clear the air (and provide some much-needed air circulation too). Make sure to buy the right size unit to suit the room in which you plan to use it.
Keep up with the cleaning. Declare war on the dust bunnies! Regular dusting, sweeping and vacuuming is a must to keep pet dander hair and dust mites under control. How often? Experts recommend once a week -- and that includes upholstery, furniture and carpets. You can also cut down on pet hair and dander by regularly brushing and bathing your pets.
Tidy up. Need another reason to de-clutter? All those knick-knacks, newspapers, stuffed animals and assorted junk can collect dust and attract dust mites. They also provide handy hiding places for mould, bugs and other pests we'd rather not have as house guests. Tidy, clean surfaces free of clutter and crumbs will go a long way to providing allergy relief – and they'll be easier to maintain.
Wash up. Did we mention the mites that live in our linens? It's okay to skip the cold water wash and opt for hot instead. Weekly washings in hot water (at least 55 degrees Celsius or 130 degrees Fahrenheit) will kill off any mould or mites in your sheets, towels, blankets and throws.
Leave the outdoors outside. If you're a fan of crime investigation shows, you know how easily one substance transfers to another. Lightweight, sticky pollen and airborne moulds will cling to your skin, hair, clothes and shoes -- and they can easily end up on your furniture and even in your bed if you come inside to relax after playing or working outdoors.
A better strategy: leave your shoes on the doorstep, throw your clothes in the wash and have a quick shower before you do anything else.
And while we want to be more environmentally-friendly, hanging clothes and linens outdoors to dry this time of year is a no-no for allergy sufferers.
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