8 Ways to Prep Your Home
for Allergy Season

By Kealia Reynolds
Photo by Gariay Thomas

While spring means blooming flowers, warmer weather, and more time spent outside, for many, spring also brings with it constant sneezing, watery eyes, and runny noses. Seasonal allergies generally hit in waves, with tree pollen season occurring from early March to late May and grass season occurring until late July.

To begin allergy symptom prevention and maintenance, determine what you’re allergic to by consulting with a doctor or allergist. This should be done at least two weeks prior to the onset of pollen season.

We spoke with Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and author of The New Allergy Solution, who says, “in-office allergy tests can help pinpoint your sensitivities and allow a more tailored and successful treatment plan.” A skin test will likely be performed to identify immediate allergic sensitivities.

Determining specific allergies will help you medicate accordingly, but symptoms can still be exacerbated if you’re harboring allergens in your home. Here are eight ways you can get your home ready for allergy season and keep irritants out.

1. Be adamant about spring cleaning

What better time to give your home a thorough cleaning? Before you begin cleaning, look for certified, allergy-friendly products to effectively clean your home and help control allergens. To prevent inhaling dust and existing allergens while cleaning, wear a surgical mask (found at most pharmacies).  Dust everywhere—literally, everywhere—from hanging light fixtures and bookcases to hard-to-reach shelves and baseboards. Sweep your floors and vacuum your furniture with a hand-held vacuum. Vacuums with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter are best at trapping airborne allergens.

Repeat these activities at least once a week (trust me, it’ll be worth it) to reduce the amount of pollen that collects in your home. Additionally, consider laying doormats—one outside your front door and one just inside—to prevent pollen from being tracked in your home. Take off your shoes as soon as you come inside to prevent tracking allergens through your home.

Photo by Samuel Zeller

2. Keep your windows closed

Though it may be tempting to shut off your AC and open your windows to feel the refreshing spring breeze, this will invite pollen into your home. Enjoy your air conditioning for the time being (your heat’s probably been on for the past six months anyway) and track pollen levels through The Weather Channel app or your allergist’s website to determine when levels are low enough to open your windows.

According to Bassett, “Higher levels of pollen are usually found on warm, dry, and windy days and lower pollen counts on windless, wet, and cloudy days.”

3. Change your air filter

A well-ventilated house is a great line of defense against allergens. While we recommend changing your air filter seasonally to keep the air inside your home clean, we recommend changing your air filters every month during allergy season (roughly May–July). This will prevent allergens and dust from collecting and circulating throughout your house.

4. Mold-proof your home

Pollen isn’t the only springtime allergen that can wreak havoc—mold is also known to kick allergy symptoms into overdrive. Prevent mold from forming by minimizing moisture in your home: fix any existing leaks, use dehumidifiers to regulate indoor humidity levels, and check crawl spaces for proper ventilation. Don’t forget to address your houseplants, as they can also grow mold if left in areas with low air circulation. Put them in living rooms with ceiling fans, on window sills, or near the front door.

Photo by Tim Abramowitz

5. Wash your sheets weekly

Though you should be washing your sheets every week anyway, this is especially important during allergy season. Bed sheets collect any pollen that has accumulated on your body during the day in addition to dust mites, dirt, and other allergens. Get rid of all allergens by washing your sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding materials in hot water (around 130℉) and soap. Bassett recommends using a dryer instead of a clothesline to prevent pollen from sticking to the sheets.

6. Update your window treatments

Blinds and shades trap fewer allergens than fabric window treatments, but if you’re not ready to give up your current curtains, make sure they’re machine washable. Washing your window curtains once a week will eliminate any allergens that have built up on the fabric and will prevent more allergens from accruing.

7. Be smart about your landscaping

If you’re especially susceptible to spring allergy symptoms, you can opt for low-allergen plants outside, like azalea, fuchsia, zinnia, orchids, begonia, astilbe, impatiens, hosta, and columbine, or low-allergen trees like eucalyptus and crepe myrtle.

“A pollen mask can help reduce exposure to pollen and mold spores when you are tending to the garden, mowing the lawn, and [performing] other outdoor activities,” says Bassett.

8. Enjoy a cup of tea

After a day of working in your yard, relax with a calming cup of green tea. According to Bassett, studies from Japan support the use of drinking certain green teas (Benifuuki, in particular) because of how they help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms from some tree pollen, like cedar.

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