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A Comprehensive Guide to Minimise Allergens in the Home

A clean home can keep allergic reactions at bay. And in order to do so, you want to minimise allergens, the source of allergies, in the home. Whether you’re suffering from allergies, want to prevent them or just looking to keep your home clean and healthy, we have the guide for you.

Where do allergens come from?

To understand how to minimise allergens in the home, we need to know where allergens come from in the first place. Common allergens found in the home come from the excretion of dust mites and other insects, pet dander and mould which sheds spores. Common food allergens include peanuts, eggs or seafood.

Allergens cause allergic reactions in some people, ranging from mild to severe, inducing symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, nose and throat, diarrhoea, vomiting and rashes and hives. Some allergic reactions are even life-threatening. While certain medications can counteract allergic reactions, prevention is always better than cure.

Minimising allergens in the home

Living Room

Design: Schemacraft Interiors

Go with curtains over blinds or shades: While curtains are more dust prone, they are easier to clean than blinds or shades. Get curtains made from machine washable materials so you can just throw them into your washer regularly.

Keep floors bare: Carpets and rugs are great for anchoring a space, but if you want to minimise allergens in the home, these should go as they are a magnet for dust mites and spores. If you must, get ones that are low pile and also machine washable. Buy cheap, so you can replace them every once in a while.

Leather over fabric sofa: Leather sofas are less likely to trap dust. Plus, you can just wipe it down with a damp cloth.

Minimise plants: The #jungalow trend may be still ongoing, but it’s time to rethink this one if you want to keep allergens at bay. Indoor plants tend to cause humidity to rise indoors, which is the perfect environment for allergens to grow and multiply.

If you like greenery, consider getting air-purifying ones like peace lilies, golden pathos and dracaena to help clean the air. Wipe down your leaves regularly to get rid of dust and only water when necessary to prevent water from pooling in the soil and pot, which can lead to a rise in humidity as well.

Restrict pets to certain zones: We love our pets, but they are a big source of allergens. Restrict them to certain zones, preferably in areas where they are no upholstery as dander catches on to them very easily. Bathe your pets once a week and clean their bedding regularly to prevent dander build-up.

Humidity levels: Humidity breeds allergens, which is why it’s necessary to keep humidity levels in the home at moderate levels. Novita recommends an ideal range of between 40 to 50%. Get a hygrometer (available at hardware stores or Muji) to monitor humidity levels in the home. Purchase a dehumidifier if your home tends to be on the humid side. Remember to empty or replace your dehumidifier regularly to ensure that it remains effective.

Keep clutter at bay: Minimalists, it’s your time to shine. Limit the amount of decorations and mementos on display as they tend to attract dust. Opt for plenty of closed storage options to keep your clutter out of sight and free from dust.

Dust and vacuum regularly: When dusting and vacuuming, look high and low. Vacuum under furniture—shift them around if you have to, and don’t forget to clean your ceiling fan and your light fixtures as these areas tend to be overlooked. Wear a face mask while cleaning.

Green your cleaning agents: A lot of harsh chemicals are found in today’s cleaning agents, which can trigger allergies if you’re particularly sensitive. If so, switch to green cleaning products. One of our favourites is Bio-Home, which is gentle on the skin and smells really good.

For a cheaper alternative, make your own natural cleaning agents using pantry staples like baking soda, vinegar and lemon. A word of caution though: While natural, these products can be abrasive on certain materials like wood, marble and glass, so read up before you use them.

Bedroom

Design: Design 4 Space

Wash bedding once a week: Wash your linens (in hot water preferably to kill off dust mites) once a week if you’re particularly susceptible to allergens. If not, once every other week is fine. Some beddings are treated with harmful chemicals or other irritants like formaldehyde e.g. anti-wrinkle ones, which cannot be washed out, so avoid those and shop for 100% cotton sheets if you can.

Protect your mattress from dust mites: A tightly woven mattress protector prevents dust mites from settling. Vacuum your mattress every time you change your sheets to remove dust mites.

Clean the filters in your AC: Filters in your air-conditioning, besides keeping the dust out from your unit, also ensures that you get clean air. So wash or vacuum your filters regularly. Plus, clean filters mean your AC unit won’t have to work as hard = lower energy costs.

Get a bed with no gaps at the bottom: A platform bed or a bed that comes with underneath built-in storage will prevent a gap between your bed and flooring, which can accumulate a lot of dust if not vacuumed regularly. Rather than break your back cleaning under the bed, get one that doesn’t have a gap.

Keep stuffed toys out of the bed: Your kids might want to keep stuffed toys on the bed, but keep them out and store them in bins with lids instead. Stuffed toys can breed lots of germs and collect plenty of dust. Alternatively, wash teddy regularly.

Get an air purifier: For allergy sufferers, you might want to consider investing in an air purifier. Get ones that come with a HEPA filter, which is useful for capturing smaller particles in the air. If you’re placing it in the bedroom, make sure it can run quietly so it won’t disturb your sleep.

Shower before bed: Showering before you get into bed helps to minimise allergens that you’ve acquired throughout the day from getting to the bed.

Kitchen

Design: Fuse Concept

Don’t tile your counters: This is especially the case if you tend to cut and chop food directly on the countertop. The grout lines from the tiles can leave plenty of food residue, which might cause bacteria to grow over time. Choose a countertop material that is easier to wipe down instead.

Don’t leave dirty dishes overnight: If you can, wash your dishes immediately after using them rather than leaving them in the sink. Don’t leave them overnight as the food residue can attract pests like cockroaches, which tend to be active at night. Their droppings, saliva and body parts can cause allergies.

Clean under your sink: Most people don’t do this, but it’s important to check under your kitchen sink once in a while to inspect for leaks. Repair leakages immediately and wipe down the under sink area once in a while.

Get an integrated sink: Integrated sinks, as their name suggests, are integrated with the counters so there’s no visible rim between the counter and the sink. This allows residue food to be wiped down to the sink easily during clean-up, preventing waste from being stuck in the joints which is a breeding ground for grime and bacteria. Do note that they tend to cost more than regular sinks though.

Keep your garbage can closed: Get a garbage can with a lid to prevent pests from feeding off on your food waste. Make sure you empty your trash after every cooking session.

Wipe down places where food is stored: In shelves and cupboards where you store food products, make sure you clean them regularly to minimise allergens. Also, clean out your refrigerator frequently by throwing away expired food and cleaning the inner compartments. This ensures your food remains fresh.

Avoid food contamination in food allergies: While food allergens are a whole big topic to explore, the key thing is to avoid cross-contamination. Use different chopping boards for different types of food (have one for cooked foods, raw meat, vegetables and fruits, commonly stained foods like strawberries and beetroot and pungent foods like garlic and onions. Get two sets of certain kitchen tools and appliances if your household has someone who has a serious food allergy. Keep foods labelled and organised so you know which ones contain potential allergens. Place “safe”, allergy-free foods separately from foods that might cause allergies to prevent accidental mix-ups.

If you have young children at home and you have yet to expose them to common food allergens, you might want to keep those foods stored separately with other foods. Also, keep them at the highest shelves where their young hands can’t reach them. Make sure you wipe down everything before eating and after cooking to prevent allergens from sticking around.

Bathroom

Design: Fineline Design

Get an exhaust fan: Because the bathroom is such a humid place, there is a higher tendency for mildew and mould growth. After every bath or shower, keep the area well-ventilated and switch on the exhaust fan. Let it run for at least 30 mins. Any lingering moisture should be wiped down.

Mould-resistant paint: When painting your bathroom ceiling, cover it with mould-resistant paint like this one from Nippon Paint or Dulux. Gush paints also carry a 2-year anti-moulding warranty.

Seal tile grout annually: Seal your grouts regularly—preferably once a year—to make sure they remain waterproof, which helps to reduce the likelihood of mould growth.

Get rid of mould fast: If you spot any mould starting to form, don’t let it fester. Scrub at the affected area with detergent and water and let it dry completely. You can also spritz the area with white distilled vinegar and leave it for an hour before wiping it clean with water and allowing the surface to dry. For a bigger problem, make sure you engage a professional.

Wash your towels: Damp towels are a hotbed of microbial growth, so make sure you air them out after use and change them every two to three days to minimise allergens.

What other ways do you minimise allergens in the home? Share with us in the comments!

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