It’s that time again: the weather is getting warmer, spring flowers are starting to bloom, and seasonal allergies are raining down with full force. While there are many remedies out there to help nip your allergies in the bud, a few lifestyle changes could help stop your symptoms before they take root. An article from Health.com suggests you:
- Wash your washing machine. This may seem counterintuitive, but bacteria and fungi can breed in the dark warmth of your washer, and detergent doesn’t really cut it. Scrubbing the machine's drum, door, and rubber gasket with diluted bleach or bleach wipes twice a month can help remove these allergy-aggravators.
- Keep the dust down. Skip the feather duster or dry cloth; they just stir dust into the air. Instead, use a wet cloth to pick up dust and other allergens like pet dander, mold spores, and fabric fibers. If you’re especially sensitive, wear a mask and gloves when you’re dust-busting to limit your exposure.
- Block dust mites with pillow covers. Even though dust mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye, they can cause big year-round allergy symptoms. These little guys live in your bed, where their primary food source, shed skin, is abundant. To keep the mites at bay, some experts recommend covering your pillow—as well as your comforter, box spring, and mattress—with an allergen-proof cover.
- Time your workout right. Avoid exercising outside during pollen-peaking times, like in the morning or when it’s windy. Check the pollen count before you leave the house and if it’s high, stick to an indoor routine or exercise at a different time. Rain will often wash away pollen, so working out after a rain shower is also a safe bet.
- Allergy-proof your vacuum. Look for a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter, which will suck up tiny particles that settle on your rugs and furniture. Also, go for one that has a bag to reduce the amount of particles you inhale when you’re emptying it. But, if you’re attached to your bagless vacuum, just make sure to empty it outside and to wipe it all down before bringing it back in.
- Put your freshly cleaned washing machine to work. Launder curtains, throw pillows, rugs, and shower curtains regularly. Choose the sanitize setting on your machine, or the hottest water temperature, to wash away dust mites and pollen. Consider replacing curtains with blinds and getting rid of area rugs to cut back on the loads of laundry.
- Grow the right plants. Research has found that some plants, such as ficus, could exacerbate allergies. Fake plants are one alternative, but if you prefer the real thing, you could try a plant that produces negligible amounts of airborne pollen, like hibiscus.
- Clean out your closet. Closets tend to be a dumping ground for allergens; in go the dirty socks and clothes in the hamper, and the dirty shoes on the shoe rack. Dust gathers in between the clutter and it can spread to the clean clothes on the hangers. Take time to give your closet a good cleaning every once in a while, making sure there’s room for air to circulate, in order to discourage mold growth.
- Be a picky pet owner. Cats and dogs get a bad rap for causing allergies, but even a pet goldfish could cause allergies for a person allergic to fungi. That’s why it’s important to know which allergens you’re vulnerable to before getting a pet. If you’re allergic to pet dander, you’re most likely going to have problems with cats, dogs, and even birds (but maybe you can get a goldfish!). But if pollen is your issue, you may be safer with a short-haired dog that will pick up less pollen at the dog park.