The key to alleviating the symptoms of any allergy is to work out what triggers it. Though many people often put their itchy eyes and noses down to seasonal hayfever, surprisingly, a sufferer’s home environment can actually be irritating their condition even more than exposure to grass and pollen. We decided to investigate which features in your home are likely to exacerbate allergy symptoms and provide you with simple but effective ways of allergy-proofing your property without spending a fortune.
The Main Causes of an Allergy In Your Home
You could be allergic to one or all of the following allergy-inducing things:
Common house dust is one of the most obvious allergens. Packed full of all sorts of debris, including human skin particles, pieces of fabric and animal dander, excessive dust can lead to all sorts of respiratory symptoms in allergy sufferers.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, up to 10% of the general public are actually sensitive to dust mites too. Small, light, easily disturbed and present in everything from pillows to upholstered furniture such as sofas, dust mites thrive in busy homes and can cause sneezing, coughing and wheezing in allergy sufferers.
Mould spores can also prompt the body into releasing histamine (the hormone which is largely responsible for kick-starting an allergic reaction). You may not be able to spot visible mould in your home, but that’s not to say you and your family aren’t exposed to its airborne spores! These can settle in and around the house and will even cling to everyday dust particles.
Pollen from trees, grass and weeds will often irritate your eyes, nose and lungs when inhaled. Pollen is transported through the air, which means you’ll find it very difficult to avoid coming into contact with this particular allergen, especially during the traditional spring/summer pollination season.
4 Key Design Tips for a Cleaner, Allergen-Free Home
So can the way you furnish your home really improve your health if you suffer from an allergy? In short, yes! And best of all, allergy-proofing your home is easier than you might think. You don’t need to spend thousands revamping your rooms to reduce your exposure to dust and other irritants – making a few basic design changes here and there can greatly improve your symptoms, leaving you free to enjoy your living space at any time of year.
1. Get rid of your carpets and replace them with hardwood floors instead. They’re cheap, cheerful and a staple in homes up and down the country, but carpets are actually one of the least allergy-friendly features in your entire property. Even carpets with relatively small fibres harbour a vast amount of dirt and debris and can house millions of dust mites.
You can of course vacuum these surfaces daily to limit the amount of dust and dirt in the environment, but installing wooden, laminate or vinyl floors instead will promote a cleaner, healthier environment without the endless round of chores. These types of hard surfaces can usually be swept, mopped and even vacuumed to remove dust and, unlike carpets, do not offer the same habitable environment for dust mites. Yes, it is a more sizeable investment in the shorter term, but you’ll reap the benefits from your new wood floor almost straightaway!
2. Abandon textiles. They may add an interesting texture to your room’s décor, but textiles trap and create dust, making them any allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare, so getting rid of fabrics is a must for homeowners who are prone to the sniffles. Put up trendy, patterned blinds instead of fabric curtains; choose washable rugs instead of long pile shaggies; buy a sophisticated-looking leather sofa as an alternative to commonplace fabric couches. Use a little imagination and you’ll find that there are plenty of things you can replace without compromising on style!
3. Reconsider your storage solutions. Messy wardrobes can harbour more dust than your bed sheets thanks to the way your clothing sheds fabric and traps dust particles. An overcrowded wardrobe is a breeding ground for nasties, and the last thing you want to be faced with every time you go to grab some clothes is a cloud of sneeze-inducing dust, so have a tidy-up and clear out as much off-season clothing as you can. Invest in a couple of large dressers with spacious drawers if you have the room and pack away unworn outfits in air-tight plastic bags to reduce dust settlement. Be sure to keep the floors of your wardrobe accessible and clear from clutter so you can whip round the base with a vacuum from time to time and collect stray fibres and debris from your clothes.
4. Get rid of excessive ornaments, photo frames, books and other knick-knacks. There’s a reason why allergy sufferers often opt for the minimalistic look! Plus, cleaning shelves that are covered in ‘bits and pieces’ is a time-consuming task, right? Dust settles in the nooks and crannies in between your belongings, making it difficult to get rid of every last particle unless you have the time (and patience) to remove each item and give the surface a good wipe down.
Stop excessive dust from accumulating at mid-level in your home and pack away as many of your possessions as possible. Books, CDs and DVDs give your home a sense of personality when left on display, but just think of the dust and dirt they’re harbouring! If you’re loathed to take down some of your ornaments entirely, pop valuable collectables and other prized items into glass display cabinets so they’re still able to contribute something to your décor.
About the Author
Jennifer Adleigh has renovated several properties since she found her passion for home design over 10 years ago. She’s collaborated with a number of home improvement retailers in order to put together this article and would like to particularly credit the team at Green Apple Flooring for their advice with regards to carpets and wooden flooring.