DIY Projects: Prep your house for allergy season

Every year, allergies make me miserable and inhibit my ability to enjoy life. The pollen outdoors combined with mold and pet dander indoors make my nose run, my eyes water and my sinuses swell. To reduce the physical effects of these allergy symptoms, I perform several do-it-yourself projects around my home.

1. Change the filters

Pollen aggravates my allergies even when I’m inside, so I try to keep the windows closed. Because I run the air conditioner so often in order to stay comfortable, I change the filter every month. Look for AC filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating. This number indicates the efficiency of the filter to trap allergen and pollen particles that circulate in the air.

In addition to operating the air conditioners, I also run exhaust fans. In my kitchen and bathroom, they assist in keeping my home free from dangerous contaminants. I wash these fans regularly to keep them clean and help them operate efficiently.

2. Clean the house

Every allergy sufferer understands the importance of dusting the furniture, but removing dust from household surfaces isn’t enough to keep my allergies at bay. Every week, I use a damp cloth to wipe every nook and cranny of my home. The baseboards, room corners and spaces under furniture receive a thorough swipe.

No surface escapes my cleaning routine. Dust mites live in bedding so I have to wash my sheets and pillow coverings every week. I cover the mattresses and box springs with plastic covers that keep the mites out of my bed. I also vacuum cloth furniture and the curtains on a weekly basis to prevent dust from accumulating. While I clean my home, I wear a protective face mask and old clothes. I take a shower after I finish cleaning to remove any allergens from my body and keep me healthy. Though thorough, these housecleaning methods help alleviate my symptoms and let me live freely in my home.

3. Replace the carpets

Despite my efforts to keep my house clean, I notice dust and other particles floating in the air as I vacuum the carpets. I decided to eliminate these allergens and tear out the carpets. Hardwood flooring is easier to clean and allergens like dust and pet hair can’t hide on the hardwood.

If replacing the carpet isn’t an option for you, make sure you vacuum once or twice a week. If you wait until you can see the dirt, the allergens have already accumulated on your floors. Use a High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) exhaust filter attached to your vacuum to catch all the dangerous particles from your carpet.

4. Remove mold

Damp, dark surfaces are prime spots for mold growth. A complete home inspection showed me the spots in my basement, bathroom and kitchen where mold is most likely to grow. To limit mold, I replaced the wallpaper in my bathroom with tile and painted the family room and bedrooms with mold-resistant paint.

Leaks are prime spots for mold. In the kitchen and bathroom, I repair or replace leaky faucets each year keep the shower and sinks dry. I also annually inspect the roof, gutters and eaves for leaks that I repair immediately. Because a dry home prevents mold growth, I use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level under 50 percent. When my home is dry and free from mold, I breathe better.

5. Purify the air

Despite my efforts to remove allergens by cleaning and dehumidifying my home, I also need to purify the circulating air I breathe. In each level of my home, an air purifier filters the air and traps pollen and other allergens. With a HEPA filter, the purifiers work for me in reducing my allergy symptoms.

With indoor and outdoor pollen, dust and pets, I need all the help I can get in tackling allergens. By housecleaning, changing filters, replacing carpet, removing mold and purifying the air, I make my house a healthy environment. These do-it-yourself projects ease my allergy symptoms all year and can improve the air quality in your home too.