Autumns arrival means sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes for up to 20 percent of Americans, thanks to ragweed. Meanwhile, mold and dust mites may already be triggering allergic reactions.
Crank up the AC. It filters incoming air and dehumidifies your house, a hedge against mold and dust mites. Effective air conditioners should keep the humidity level around 30 to 40 percent. To monitor the level of moisture in your air, try a humidity gauge (available at home-improvement stores). If you get a reading above 50 percent with the AC on, your unit may not be powerful enough.
Bedroom: Dust mites
About 20 million of us are allergic to dust mites. But dont let them get between you and a good nights sleep.
Bathe your bedding. Use only washable linens, and launder them weekly in water thats at least 130 degrees. Turn up the hot-water heater for the job, and then return it to the safe zone.
Dust mites live here, too, along with invited guests: Dogs and cats harbor allergens in their saliva, urine, and dander.
Vacuum smart. Invest in a high-quality vac that has a HEPA filter or double-layer bags. Try Sears Kenmore Progressive 25512 canister model (about $250; www.sears.com). Also, wear a dust mask or (happily) delegate this chore.
Mold loves wet, steamy surroundings, and experts caution that its tiny spores can be inhaled. If youre allergic to pollens and dander, chances are youll have some sensitivity to mold spores, too.
Scrub the tight spots. Give the corners of your shower or tub a weekly once-over with a cleaning solution containing 5 percent chlorine bleach and a small amount of detergent. Always use the ventilation fan when you shower. And if you see mildew on that wallpaper? Time to strip it.
Allergens in their saliva and droppings can make you sneeze. Also, studies have shown that exposure to cockroaches can trigger or worsen asthma.
Control crumbs. Clean regularly under your stove, refrigerator, and toaster, where crumbs tend to gather. Dont leave dishes in the sink. And keep all food sealed tight.