April 14, 2009 --
Allergy season is upon us and millions of Americans will battle the triggers that cause itchy eyes, runny noses and asthma attacks. While people may think their homes offer a respite from pesky triggers like dust mites and mold - their fortresses may be harboring more harm than they know. Angie's List (www.angieslist.com
), the nation's leading provider of consumer ratings on local service companies, including allergists, recently asked some of its highly-rated physicians for tips on controlling indoor allergies and providing a healthier environment for the whole family.
"It's amazing how many allergens lurk in even the cleanest home, but you can evict a lot of them with a good scrubbing, by changing flooring, or removing furnishings," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "But if your allergies are severe, leave the cleaning to someone else and hire a professional cleaning company."
Dust mites are a common trigger for many folks who suffer from allergies. If you're not sure what bothers your respiratory system, consider getting tested by an allergist who can help pinpoint your troubles. According to a nationwide Angie's List poll, 80 percent of respondents suffer from allergies or asthma and 38 percent have tested for allergies to dust mites. (1,050 Angie's List members took this poll. Responses are representative of Angie's List members but not the general public.)
"The best plan of attack for spring cleaning is to make the bedroom your first priority because dust mites love bedding and pillows," Hicks said. "It's the room with the greatest number of dust mites and you spend the majority of your day there. Dust mites also love carpet, so if you have carpet in your bedroom, vacuum regularly."
Angie's List Spring Cleaning Tips for Allergy Sufferers: Wash your bedding weekly: Toss your sheets in water that's at least 130 degrees and place dust-mite covers on mattresses and pillows. Choose a solid surface: Replace carpet with a solid surface such as hardwood - this can eliminate 90 percent of dust mites. If you must have carpet, get low pile - not shag. Clean up the mold: Mold is caused by moisture and can hide out in your bathroom, kitchen and basement. To avoid mold buildup, keep things dry as possible and fix leaky plumbing. Consider paint or tile instead of wallpaper. Ventilate your bathroom: It's a good idea to keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent. Too much moisture can lead to mold, mildew and dust mites. Run the bathroom fan to pull moisture from the air or open a window to help the air circulate. Avoid upholstered furniture: Upholstered furniture traps allergens and is difficult to clean thoroughly. Instead, opt for leather, vinyl, wood or furniture with removable slipcovers that can be laundered. Control animal dander: Keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe them on a weekly basis. Eliminate cockroaches: Cockroaches can trigger asthma symptoms. It's best to hire a professional exterminator to get rid of the pesky pests. In the meantime, caulk all areas where the roaches can enter. De-clutter: Get rid of excess knickknacks. The clutter just collects dust. Check filters: Every month, check the filters on your air conditioner, furnace, and dehumidifiers. If they are dirty, replace them.