Preparing for Allergy Season

March 19, 2013 10:26:48 AM PDT
From carpeting to ceiling fans and air vents, many common areas of the house can harbor allergens.

Robyn Moreno reveals the hidden allergens that are lurking in your home and has some advice about what to do to prepare for allergy season and avoid the sniffles.

Evaluate Your Home Décor
- Books harbor dust mites, mold spores and tiny creatures called booklice. Try dusting their surfaces regularly or storing the books in a closed container. Bookshelves are also dust hotspots and should be dusted regularly.
- Many people also forget to clean ceiling fans, which collect a great deal of dust that spreads around the room every time you turn on the ceiling fan. Using a microfiber duster is perfect for any surface and can easily be thrown in the washer to clean.

Spring Clean Your Children's Toys
- Dust mite allergens can build up on soft, plush toys that can be exposed to your children. Look for toys that are machine washable and wash them in hot water once a week. If the stuffed animal can't be cleaned in a washer, place it in a bag in the freezer for 24 hours once a week and toss it in the dryer on high heat to kill mites.

Look at What the Cat Dragged In
- Pet dander can be found in any home, whether you have pets or not. People with pets are carrying animal dander on their clothes and deposit it wherever they sit.
- Pollen can travel hundreds of miles and is at its highest before 10 a.m. so keep windows closed in your home and car. Children should also wash their hands and face and change clothing after playing outside-pollen can stick to shoes, skin, and clothing.
- The best way to get rid of pollen and pet dander in the home is by using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps these harmful particles.

Keep Your Bathroom Sparkling
- Nonslip bathtub mats and shower curtains are hotspots for mold. Indoor mold grows in damp, dark environments and bathrooms are a safe haven. Keep your bathroom ventilated, either by opening a window or installing a fan to get rid of mold spores in the air. Also, clean bathmats and shower curtains once every two weeks.

Eliminate Strong Smells
- Air quality inside most of our homes is worse than it is outside-levels of almost a dozen common pollutants such as formaldehyde are 2-5 times higher indoors because of improper ventilation. Masking odors with air fresheners and scented candles often makes things worse because many of these products contain the same volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are in paint fumes and floor varnish. Use baking soda to absorb odors, but not just in the refrigerator. Keep open boxes in cabinets, closets and drawers, sprinkle some in trashcans-the list goes on!
- If candle scents are your favorite, you can create the real thing the natural way. Throw lemon halves, orange peels, vanilla or almond extract, cinnamon, or other spices in a pot of simmering water to infuse the house with a soothing aroma.

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