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Ways to Avoid Pollen, Dust Mites & Molds

Avoiding Pollen

Go outside later in the day when pollen counts are generally lower. They are also lower during and right after a rainfall, or on cool, cloudy days.

Use a high-efficiency particulate accumulator (HEPA) filter for your air conditioner to remove practically all allergenic particles in your home.

Keep your windows closed during the pollen season. Avoid the use of window or attic fans, they may actually bring outdoor pollens indoors.

Do not dry your clothes outside, as pollen grains may become lodged in clothes and may cause an allergic reaction on the skin. Wash pillowcases often.

Wash your hair or wipe it down with a damp cloth before you go to bed to avoid inhaling pollen while you sleep.

Check the local pollen count in advance of planning a trip.

Try a more pollen-free area like the beach when planning your next vacation. If time and budget allow, plan to take a vacation during the height of hay fever season at home.

Don't mow the lawn when pollen count, humidity and/or wind factors are high.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves and painter's mask when you mow the lawn to reduce your exposure to grass pollen. Change your clothes and shower after mowing the lawn to wash away grass pollen.

Keep your lawn mowed to 2 inches or less to minimize flowering and airborne pollen.

Make sure your yard is free of weeds such as nettle, dock, English plantain and ragweed.

Plant flowers that are brightly colored (such as poppies, azaleas, begonias, tulips, irises and pansies) or have powerful scents. With their color and scents, these flowers attract bees and other insects to carry their pollen to other plants and therefore are not wind pollinated.

Avoid oak, birch, cedar, cottonwood and elm trees. They are more likely to cause allergies than fir, pine and dogwood trees.

Avoid wind-pollinated plants like sagebrush and Bermuda, Timothy and Johnson varieties of grass. Plant yucca, hibiscus, boxwood or verbena shrubs to avoid aggravating your allergies.

Avoid foods that share the allergenic proteins of ragweed such as cantaloupe, bananas, watermelon and honeydew melon if you are allergic to ragweed.

Remove the skin of certain fruit if your mouth and lips itch and swell after eating it. If you have this response, you may be allergic to birch or other tree pollen.

Avoid wearing heavy perfumes and colognes during pollen season. They can heighten allergy symptoms.

Avoiding Dust Mites

Invest in a dehumidifier to keep the humidity below the range that encourages molds and dust mites. Keep humidity below 45% to avoid dust mites.

Use a damp mop to clean uncarpeted floors and to wipe flat surfaces like picture frames and blinds weekly.

Cover your box springs and mattresses in zippered, dust-proof cases.

Wash blankets, pillows and sheets weekly in hot water since dust mites can survive lukewarm water.

Remove wall-to-wall carpeting, especially if it is resting over a cement floor. Wall-to-wall carpeting can harbor dust mites. If you like carpeting in your home, use washable throw rugs. Steam shampoo carpets and rugs once a month to reduce mite allergens.

Wear a dust mask while doing housework if you have allergies. Leave the house for several hours after cleaning it.

Avoid using your bedroom as a study since books tend to gather dust. Keep clothes in a closet that's outside the bedroom to avoid collecting dust.

Consider plastic, leather or wood furniture rather than upholstered items which gather dust. Replace your drapes with washable curtains to avoid gathering dust.

Invest in a central vacuum system to keep dust from recirculating. Use a double layer "allergy" vacuum cleaner bag to avoid leakage of airborne allergens.

Avoid detergents when possible. Because of their salt content, they protect mites. If you use detergents, wash clothes and bedding with hot water (130 degrees F) to kill mites.

Avoiding Molds

Vent clothes dryers outside to avoid the growth of molds.

Avoid having tiles in your bathroom; they encourage the growth of mold.

Clean the refrigerator and water pan regularly to help prevent the growth of molds. Clean damp areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and basement often using a weak, chlorine bleach solution.

Clean rain gutters regularly, removing leaves that can grow mold. Ask a non-allergic family member to rake the leaves if you're allergic to molds. Prune trees and bushes so they never touch the roof or outer walls of your house.

Continuously run a dehumidifier in basements that are prone to dampness. Consider putting a light with a timer in your basement since molds grow in darkness. Avoid humidifiers and cool mist vaporizers since they tend to trap mold spores.

Do not overwater your houseplants. Wet soil provides the perfect environment for mold growth.

Clean your air conditioner filters regularly, spraying them with an anti-mildew aerosol to help prevent mold growth.

Avoid using potpourri. It can harbor molds and may contain other allergens.

Avoid foods that are fermented or aged if you are allergic to mold spores. Examples include beer and aged cheese.

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