Did you feel a sense of relief after the first winter freeze? Were you sure the sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes were finally going to go away? If those symptoms haven’t let up, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from winter indoor allergies. The bad news is that those symptoms are not going to get any better during the winter months when Midwesterners are trapped inside because of cold weather and snow storms. The good news is that there are steps you can take that can alleviate the nasty symptoms of your winter indoor allergy.
Choose your vacuum carefully.
We’ve talked in a past blog post about choosing the vacuum for your carpet that won’t void the warranty. If you’re an allergy sufferer, add another deciding factor into your vacuum purchase: an allergy sensitive vacuum. For best allergy results, choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter or double bag to ensure that you can vacuum the allergens away—without having an allergy attack.
Clean your ducts.
Indoor allergy symptoms are often caused and exacerbated by the most common indoor allergens: dust mites, pet dander, mold. All of those allergens re-circulate though our air ducts every time you turn on your heat or air conditioner. The remedy? Contact a professional duct cleaning company to rid your ducts, and your indoor air, of all those annoyingly common indoor allergens.
Get a furnace filter with a high MERV.
Filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) do not allow finer particles to pass, effectively removing allergens from the air. There is a “buyer beware” clause that goes with purchasing the right furnace filter though. Filters with high MERVs (the max is 16) can put too much pressure on your furnace fan and possibly damage your furnace. If you are considering a filter with a high MERV, make sure to consult a HVAC technician to make adjustments that can accommodate a high MERV filter.
Schedule an annual or biannual carpet cleaning.
A professional carpet cleaning goes above and beyond a regular vacuum or a rental carpet cleaner at your local hardware store. A professional carpet cleaning removes allergens and dirt from your carpets. To make sure you’re regularly removing the allergens, set a regular carpet cleaning schedule with a good company—an annual or biannual—that not only removes the allergens but keeps them out all year long.
Control your home’s humidity.
To be clear: you don’t have to keep your indoor air humidity in static electricity mode, but you should know the level of moisture in your air and control it with a dehumidifier or humidifier (depending on the humidity level). Rooms with humidity above 50 percent can breed mold, mildew and dust mites, stirring up allergy symptoms and respiratory problems—exactly what you don’t need when you’re trapped inside during the winter months.