Because you feel sick all year long, it’s really important to eliminate the particular allergen from your surroundings. The most common perennial allergens are house dust mites, animal dander from your pets, feathers from pillows and comforters, and cockroaches.
Household dust is found all over the world. It is actually a combination of allergens. It is different from road dust in that
road dust is an irritant; although at certain times of the year, like autumn, road dust can contain allergic mold spores. Household dust is a combination of breakdown products from your carpets and upholstery, including down and lint products, debris including human skin flakes and animal dander, plant matter, cockroach fragments, bacteria, and mold. Household dust also provides a home for dust mites. There are over 50,000 species
of these microscopic insects that feed on your skin as it sheds. These bugs tend to accumulate in mattresses, pillows, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. Oriental rugs, English tweed fabrics, down pillows and comforters create thriving environments for dust mites. They also prefer more humid environments so that homes in higher altitudes like Denver or the western desert states have less problems than homes in more humid states like New York or sunny, tropical Florida.
Reactions to household dust are typically worse in the morning after a night’s sleep, lying in the dust-mite-infested bedding. Vacuuming and shaking out bedding and/or rugs can trigger symptoms.
Avoidance and reducing exposure is the best way to help avoid these allergic reactions. Luckily, dust mites do not like plastic. The following are the steps that you need to take to minimize contact with these allergens:
1. Wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
2. Remove carpeting, especially in the bedroom, and replace with hardwood or tile floors. You can keep area rugs or relatively new synthetic carpeting (less than 10 years old) if they are vacuumed weekly and washed or cleaned regularly. Chemical treatments with benzyl benzoate and other carpet and upholstery cleaners that are commercially available can be used to kill dust mites.
3. Place plastic covers on mattresses (box spring and mattress), pillows, and comforters to suffocate existing mites and keep new ones from hatching. Dust mites are usually not a problem in baby cribs as the mattresses are usually plastic covered.
4. Use dehumidifiers to lower the humidity, and run the air - conditioner in the summer to dry out your home.
5. Keep the carpeting dry. Do not walk on carpeting with wet feet or place wet towels on the carpeting or the bedding after showering. Take your shoes off at the front door so that you do not track in dust from your office or other people’s homes.
6. Vacuum your entire home weekly. Make sure that your vacuum has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which filters dirt particles in the air during vacuuming. The person in your home who is allergic should not do the vacuuming.
7. Wash down the walls, shelves, and floors regularly. Use single wipe dust rags and damp mops to clean around all surfaces. Or wash all cleaning rags in hot water after each use.
8. The best type of furniture to purchase is sealed wood, plastic, or metal with a minimum of stuffing. Keep heavy drapes to a minimum and keep Venetian blinds clean, as these surfaces are wonderful homes for the allergens.