Take steps to fight allergies in your home
At best, allergies may have you sniffling and sneezing when the flower blooms announce, “It’s spring.” At worst, allergies can keep you stuck at home, feeling miserable, sometimes all year long. But what if being stuck at home is actually making the problem worse? Thanks to pet dander, dust mites, molds, mildews and other aggravators, your house may be part of the allergy problem.
Allen P. Rathey, president of The Healthy House Institute, explains, “Allergies are immune-system issues, so really the basic idea is to boost overall health rather than try to just attack symptoms. Still, once you are allergic, cleaning up the indoor environment—and preventing allergens from getting in or spreading—is key.”
To help allergy sufferers clean up and breathe freely, following are some of the top allergy-relief and -prevention products for your home.
Allergy bedding, a top seller at AchooAllergy.com and a top recommendation from The Healthy House Institute, is a first line of defense against allergens such as dust mites and pet dander. Made from 100-percent polyester microfiber, Allergy Armor Ultra products include pillow covers, mattress covers and complete bedding packages that boast the smallest fabric pores in the industry, preventing allergens from cozying up inside. The team at AchooAllergy.com recommends washing bedding once a week in hot water, while Allergy Armor pillow covers should be washed twice a month. If you have a mattress encasing, wash it twice a year. AchooAllergy.com,
(770) 455-9999, www.achooallergy.com; $9.95-$32.95
Dust mites and molds need high humidity to thrive, Rathey explains. Georgia’s muggy climate provides the perfect breeding ground. Invest in a dehumidifier; any time the relative humidity in your home is above 50 percent, you need one. A product such as the Soleus Air CFM-40E is lightweight and quiet. It has a built-in humidistat to measure the humidity in your home and turn on automatically when necessary. Sylvane, www.sylvane.com; $224
Crazy for color
Paint can contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can aggravate allergies and cause respiratory illnesses. But that doesn’t mean you have to live in a paint-free house. Benjamin Moore’s Natura is the only nationally available interior paint that remains free of VOCs even after tinting in any color. What does zero-VOC really mean? The paint is virtually odorless. Plus, it is available in more than 3,300 Benjamin Moore colors and can be color-matched. Briarcliff Paint, (404) 872-2461, http://briarcliffpaint.benmoorepaints.com; $49.99 per gallon
Designed for people with everyday air-quality concerns, Austin air purifiers eliminate airborne particles, chemicals, odors and gasses. The HealthMate removes virtually all airborne particles by performing several critical air-quality remediation functions. Its four-stage filtration system contains true medical-grade HEPA and activated-carbon filters. “If you are allergic to airborne allergens like pollen, cat and dog dander and mold, air purifiers help in room-specific environments,” says Cade McDonald, founder of AchooAllergy.com “We recommend the bedroom because that is where you spend the majority of the time. We educate our customers to make their bedrooms their allergy-free zones; if you have a pet that you are allergic to, keep it out of the bedroom.” ecoEmporium, (404) 875-5224, www.theecoemporium.com; $299-$469
Green and clean
The chemicals in everyday cleaning products can contribute to allergy symptoms. Eco-Me cleaning products, made with 100-percent pure ingredients, contain no chemicals. Clean up the entire house using only vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and pure plant essential oils. The Eco-Me product line includes natural-bristle scrub brushes, microfiber cloths, spray bottles and more. Plus, the Eco-Me Home Kit provides instructions so you know you’re mixing the all natural products correctly. Eco-Me products are available locally at ecoEmporium, (404) 875-5224 or online at www.eco-me.com; $26
Suck it up
To really clean, you need a high-efficiency filtration vacuum. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) reports, “High-performance vacuum cleaners have a significant impact on improved indoor- air quality.” One CRI-certified model that receives high customer reviews is Oreck’s Platinum Pilot upright vacuum. For allergen control, its HEPA-filtration system traps up to 99.9 percent of dust and allergens down to 0.3 microns. Plus, the self-sealing vacuum bag locks in dirt, dust and allergens, unlike dust cups in bagless vacuums that can leak particles back into the air when emptied. Oreck Clean Home Center, (404) 814-0798, www.oreckstore.com/atlanta; $599
Surviving a Home Renovation
Cade McDonald, founder of Atlanta-based AchooAllergy.com, an online marketplace and retail store that matches allergy-relief products with customers’ needs, says it is possible to renovate or remodel a home with minimal effects on a homeowner’s allergies.
“If you’re living in the house during a remodel, you want to isolate the area as much as possible,” McDonald says. “Is the HVAC system shared with the remodel area? If it’s separate, that’s best; it means there are no shared ducts.” If you’re not lucky enough to have a separate system, McDonald suggests taping heavy-duty plastic over all duct openings to prevent large amounts of construction dust and debris from entering. “Turning the HVAC off at the breaker level is ideal,” McDonald says.
McDonald’s other tips for controlling dust and keeping allergy flare-ups to a minimum while remodeling include:
• Invest in a basic shop vac—one from a “big box” hardware store should suffice.
• Clear closets of all contents if any are in the area of the remodeling project.
• If possible, use a separate entrance for the construction crew.
• Use allergy-protective bedding coverings for pillows and mattresses.
• Consider a commercial dehumidifier as long as there is no exposure to the outdoors in the remodel area. Humidity control prevents mold growth.
• Change HVAC filters once the remodeling project is complete.