If you have hay fever or allergic asthma, take a few steps to reduce allergens in your home. Some steps to reduce indoor allergens are complicated and time-consuming — but there are some easy things you can do that may help. Some steps may be more effective than others, depending on what particular allergy or allergies you have.

  • Bed and bedding. Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-mite-proof covers. Wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets at least once a week in water heated to at least 130 F (54 C). Remove, wash or cover comforters. Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials.
  • Flooring. Remove carpeting and use hardwood or linoleum flooring or washable area rugs. If that isn't an option, use low-pile instead of high-pile carpeting and vacuum weekly with a vacuum cleaner that has a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Shampoo the carpet frequently.
  • Curtains and blinds. Use washable curtains made of plain cotton or synthetic fabric. Replace horizontal blinds with washable roller-type shades.
  • Windows. Close windows and rely on air conditioning during pollen season. Clean mold and condensation from window frames and sills. Use double-paned windows if you live in a cold climate.
  • Furnishings. Choose easy-to-clean chairs, dressers and nightstands made of leather, wood, metal or plastic. Avoid upholstered furniture.
  • Clutter. Remove items that collect dust, such as knickknacks, tabletop ornaments, books and magazines. Store children's toys, games and stuffed animals in plastic bins.
  • Pets. If you can't find a new home for your dog or cat, at least keep animals out of the bedroom. Bathing pets at least once a week may reduce the amount of allergen in the dander they shed.
  • Air filtration. Choose an air filter that has a small-particle or HEPA filter. Try adjusting your air filter so that it directs clean air toward your head when you sleep.
  • Flooring. Remove carpeting and use hardwood or linoleum flooring or washable area rugs. If that isn't an option, use low-pile instead of high-pile carpeting and vacuum weekly with a vacuum cleaner that has a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Wash area rugs and floor mats weekly, and shampoo wall-to-wall carpets periodically.
  • Furniture. Consider replacing upholstered sofas and chairs with furniture made of leather, wood, metal or plastic.
  • Curtains and blinds. Use washable curtains made of plain cotton or synthetic fabric. Replace horizontal blinds with washable roller-type shades.
  • Windows. Close windows and rely on air conditioning during pollen season. Clean mold and condensation from window frames and sills. Use double-paned windows if you live in a cold climate.
  • Plants. Find a new home for potted plants or spread aquarium gravel over the dirt to help contain mold.
  • Pets. If you can't find a new home for your dog or cat, consider keeping it outside if weather permits.
  • Fireplaces. Avoid use of wood-burning fireplaces or stoves because smoke and gases can worsen respiratory allergies. Most natural gas fireplaces won't cause this problem.
  • Stove. Install and use a vented exhaust fan to remove cooking fumes and reduce moisture. Most stove-top hoods simply filter cooking particulates without venting outside.
  • Sink. Wash dishes daily. Scrub the sink and faucets to remove mold and food debris.
  • Refrigerator. Wipe up excessive moisture to avoid mold growth. Discard moldy or out-of-date food. Regularly empty and clean dripping pan and clean or replace moldy rubber seals around doors.
  • Cabinets and counters. Clean cabinets and countertops with detergent and water. Check under-sink cabinets for plumbing leaks. Store food — including pet food — in sealed containers.
  • Food waste. Place garbage in a can with an insect-proof lid and empty trash daily. Keeping the kitchen free of food crumbs will help reduce the chance you will have rodents or cockroaches.
  • Ventilation. Install and use an exhaust fan to reduce moisture while taking baths or showers.
  • Floors. Remove carpeting and use tile, vinyl, wood or linoleum flooring. Use washable rugs.
  • Walls. Remove wallpaper and install tile, or paint walls with mold-resistant enamel paint.
  • Shower and tub. Towel-dry the tub and enclosure after use. Scrub mold from tub, shower and faucets with bleach. Clean or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.
  • Toilet and sink. Scrub mold from plumbing fixtures. Repair leaks.
  • Flooring. Remove moldy or water-damaged carpeting. If possible, use concrete, vinyl or linoleum flooring.
  • Furniture. Consider replacing upholstered sofas and chairs with furniture made of leather, wood, metal or plastic.
  • Foundation, windows and stairwells. Check for and repair any sources of leaks or water damage.
  • Air quality. Use a dehumidifier to reduce dampness, and clean it once a week.
  • Storage. Store collectibles and clothes in plastic storage bins.
  • Clothes dryer. Vent moisture outside.
  • Temperature and humidity. Hot, humid houses are breeding grounds for dust mites and mold. Maintain temperature between 68 F (20 C) and 72 F (22 C) and keep relative humidity no higher than 50 percent. Clean or replace small-particle filters in central heating and cooling systems and in room air conditioners at least once a month.
  • Pests. Control cockroaches and mice with inexpensive traps from the hardware store. If that's not effective, hire a professional exterminator. To remove allergy-triggering insect and mouse residue, thoroughly vacuum carpeting and wash hard surfaces. To prevent re-infestation, seal cracks or other possible entryways.
  • Mold. Close doors and windows during warm weather and use air conditioning and dehumidifiers. Remove nonwashable contaminated materials such as carpeting. Clean washable material with a solution of 5 percent chlorine bleach and wear a protective mask when cleaning away mold. Check the roof and ceilings for water leaks.
  • Weekly cleaning routine. Damp-mop wood or linoleum flooring and vacuum carpeting. Use a vacuum cleaner with a small-particle or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Use a damp cloth to clean other surfaces, including the tops of doors, windowsills and window frames. If you have allergies, either wear a dust mask or get someone who doesn't have allergies to do this job. Change or clean heating and cooling system filters once a month.
  • Smoking. Don't allow smoking anywhere inside your house.
Apr. 13, 2014