Although winter is looming on the horizon and this means a break from sinus-stuffing pollen in the air for many people, don’t be too quick to breathe that sigh of relief. The cold weather will start to drive many to stay indoors, where the most unsuspecting and equally havoc-wreaking allergens lurk. There are many allergens in the home that can cause symptom flare-ups that usually manage to somehow stay off the radar during regular apartment cleaning. The first step to keeping your apartment air as pollutant-free as possible is obviously to keep harmful air contaminants such as cigarette smoke and abrasive chemicals out of your home, but here are some lesser-known tips for getting rid of the more secretive sinus assailants:
Containing Pet Allergens:
Our pets would never intentionally cause us harm, but the fact is that their dander, hair, and even saliva carry allergens that are often the cause of allergic symptoms. Luckily, we can avoid having to give up these furry buddies by reducing and containing the allergens they may inadvertently bring into the apartment:
• Consider purchasing a HEPA Air Purifier. Decide what kind of air cleaner fits your needs best by considering whether you want one that is great for removing small particles form the air, or one that specializes in capturing pet hairs.
• Confine your pets in a specific area of the apartment. If you know that it’s shedding season and your nose will not be happy with that, bar your buddy from the bedroom. Even better, confine them to a room without carpet so that allergens do not collect in the carpet.
Getting Rid of Household Pests and Dust Mites:
Sparing you from the more frightening details of these bugs, know that proteins in the droppings of dust mites and cockroaches are often the cause of allergic symptoms in the home. Aside from covering your food and dusting off your furniture frequently, there are many other ways you can make sure these guys never invade your living space:
• Throw your bedding and linens in the laundry weekly. Washing your bedding (yes, including pillow covers and all!) in water 130°F or higher will help to kill off any dust mites trying to bunker down in your bed. Make sure to also throw in any stuffed animals or high-pile rugs, where dust (read: dust mite food) usually collects!
• Cover up. Purchase covers that are impermeable to allergens, and thus dust mites and their friends, for your mattress, box spring, and pillows.
• Have pests? Alert maintenance right away. If you begin to notice an uncomfortable amount of roaches in the your apartment (even one can be disconcerting to see!) despite your best efforts to keep your food from becoming theirs, let your apartment manager and maintenance know immediately! The only way to keep an infestation from happening to is get pest control in as soon as possible.
• Replace your air filters! While some apartments take it upon themselves to change your filters monthly and others will shove the responsibility onto the tenant, be sure to be mindful of changing it on your own (frequently)… especially if you have hairy animals in your home. Doing so will make sure that air pollutants are filtered out and air can circulate throughout your apartment properly.
• Grow some indoor plants. Plants act as natural air filters, as their leaves absorb some pollutants and recycle clean oxygen back into the air. Be sure not to have an excessive number of plants in one place, though, or you might end up fostering humidity and mold.
• Scrub your shower monthly. Apartment bathrooms are usually smaller and will thus retain a lot of moisture when you shower and do daily activities. Inevitably, mold and mildew will begin to thrive in the humidity if you do not keep it in check often. You can also reduce trapping humidity in small spaces by keeping doors open, turning on exhaust ventilation, or opening the windows occasionally to let outdoor air flow through.
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