Top Tips for Indoor Air Quality to Combat Spring Allergies
Poor indoor air quality can cause up to 50% of illnesses in Barrie and Simcoe County residents. As many as 1,000 indoor pollutants can accumulate within, particularly in tightly sealed homes designed to conserve energy and prevent leakage.
While spring is a beautiful season, for many people, it signals the return of seasonal allergies aggravated by allergens that are thick in the air.
People who suffer from allergies know the discomfort of dealing with pollen, mold, and other allergens. But you may not realize that you can improve your indoor air quality to ease spring allergy woes.
In this blog, we will discuss helpful tips and tricks to enhance indoor air quality and keep allergens at bay.
Pollen, Dust Mites, and Spores, Oh My! Poor Air Quality!
If you’re always sick in spring with a lingering runny nose, watery eyes, or fuzzy-feeling head, you may be experiencing more than a seasonal head cold.
In Southern Ontario, common allergens include birch, ragweed, dust mites, and mold spores, among others. Although opening a window might appear refreshing, it could worsen your situation during spring! Sure, you will be circulating air, but you will also be inviting new allergens into your home.
7 Tips on How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
While it’s impossible to completely avoid allergens, there are steps you can take to make indoor air quality better and limit your exposure to reduce allergy symptoms.
1. Keep your home clean
One of the most effective ways to improve indoor air quality and reduce allergens is to keep your home clean. Regular cleaning can help remove dust, pet dander, and other allergens that can trigger allergy symptoms. Here are some cleaning tips to help you maintain a healthy indoor environment:
- Vacuum your floors, carpets, and rugs at least once a week using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This type of filter can trap small particles, including pollen and mold spores, that can cause allergies.
- Dust your home regularly, paying special attention to areas where allergens tend to accumulate, such as window sills, shelves, and electronic devices.
- Wash your bedding, curtains, and other fabrics frequently in hot water to kill dust mites and remove allergens.
- Clean your air vents and change your air filters regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and allergens in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
2. Control humidity levels
Good indoor air quality is about keeping your air ventilated, filtered, and properly humidified.
High humidity levels can trigger allergy symptoms by promoting the growth of mold and dust mites. To maintain a healthy indoor environment, you should keep humidity levels in your home between 30% and 50%.
There are plenty of appliances and filters that can help with this.
- A good home air filtration system can remove allergens, such as pollen, bacteria, mold spores, and dust. Mechanical air filters can purify your air in a well-sealed air cleaner and circulate it back into your home through your home heating and cooling system.
- High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can remove 99.97% of airborne particles that are .3 microns small, including most allergens, dust, and pet dander. Consider installing an upgraded filter with a higher MERV rating.
- A humidifier or dehumidifier can also balance humidity levels in your home. If the air is dry, particles and allergens remain airborne longer, but if the air is too humid, you may develop mold. Use a dehumidifier in damp areas like basements and bathrooms to extract excessive moisture from the air.
- Ventilation units such as energy recovery ventilators (ERV) can circulate fresh air throughout and filter it to remove allergens and pollutants, improving indoor air quality. Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom can also maintain humidity levels while opting to fix leaks or water damage and decreasing water on indoor plants are other ways of regulating them.
You can also control humidity levels by fixing any leaks or water damage in your home to prevent mold growth or by avoiding over-watering your indoor plants, as this can contribute to high humidity levels.
3. Keep pollen and other allergens outside
During spring, pollen levels can be very high, especially on warm, windy days. To minimize the amount of pollen and other allergens entering your home, follow these tips:
- Keep your windows and doors closed during peak pollen times, which are usually in the early morning and late afternoon.
- Use air conditioning instead of opening windows to cool your home. Make sure to clean your air conditioner’s filter regularly to prevent the buildup of allergens.
- Remove your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking pollen and other allergens inside.
- Shower and change your clothes after spending time outdoors to remove any pollen that may have settled on your skin and clothing.
- Avoid using scented candles, air fresheners, and other products with strong fragrances, as they can irritate the respiratory system and worsen allergy symptoms.
- Keep indoor plants to a minimum.
4. Maintain a healthy HVAC system
Your home heating and cooling system plays a crucial role in maintaining good indoor air quality. A well-maintained HVAC system can help remove allergens from the air and prevent them from circulating throughout your home.
Try to do any of the following:
- Change your air filters regularly, at least every three months. If you have pets or suffer from severe allergies, consider changing your filters more frequently.
- Schedule regular maintenance for your HVAC system, including cleaning the air ducts and checking for any leaks or damage. In a previous article, we talked about why air conditioning preventive maintenance is crucial, and what you can expect when you book one.
If the air filters are dirty or clogged, they won’t be able to do their job effectively. Change your air filters regularly, at least every three months, or more often if you have pets or suffer from severe allergies.
5. Minimize pet allergens
- Bathe and groom your pets regularly to reduce the amount of dander and hair they shed.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom and off your furniture to create an allergen-free zone where you can sleep and relax. No one is forcing anyone, we’re here to provide tips.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove pet hair and dander from your floors and upholstery.
6. Keep windows and doors closed
While it may be tempting to open windows and doors to let in the fresh spring air, doing so can also let in pollen and other outdoor allergens.
Keep windows and doors closed, especially during peak pollen times in the morning and late afternoon. Turning on the air conditioning unit is a good alternative if you would like to air out or circulate fresh air inside your home without inviting outside allergens. This will not only keep you comfortable but also reduce the amount of pollen and other allergens in your home, consequently making it easier for you to breathe.
7. Create a healthy sleep environment
Since we spend a significant amount of time in our bedrooms, creating a healthy sleep environment is crucial for managing allergies. In addition to keeping your bedroom clean and maintaining proper humidity levels, consider the following tips:
- Use allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers to protect against dust mites.
- Choose bedding made from hypoallergenic materials, like organic cotton or bamboo.
- Keep the bedroom free of clutter, which can collect dust
By following these tips, you can create a healthier living environment and reduce your exposure to allergens during the spring allergy season. Remember that maintaining a clean home, controlling humidity levels, and keeping your air conditioning system in good condition are essential steps in improving your home’s indoor air quality
So breathe easy and enjoy the beauty of the beautiful season!
If you think you need professional help, Custom Comfort ClimateCare can perform indoor air quality testing for you to help make your home safe.
If you have more questions about how to improve your indoor air quality and health, call Custom Comfort ClimateCare. We want to be your personal climate experts!