6 Tips to Prevent Spring Allergies and Enhance Indoor Air Quality
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
This post was updated to include additonal information for treating seasonal allergy symptoms. Recommended products reflect current prices and availability.
It’s that time of year! Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and it’s finally time to bust out the short sleeves! But, if you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from allergies, springtime also comes with sneezing, coughing, and runny noses–something that can put a real damper on finally being able to get outside without five layers of clothing on. Before you hole yourself up in your room with ten boxes of tissues and some VaporRub, try out these simple and effective strategies on how to prevent spring allergies and enhance your indoor air quality.
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One of the best things you can do to avoid allergen irritants is to keep your air as clean and pure as possible. Allergens, pollutants, and dust particles roaming through your air can be microscopic, yet they can pack a punch when it comes to your body’s physical response to the particles you are breathing in for large portions of your day. An air purifier will trap and remove almost 100 percent of pollutants in your air by drawing in the dirty air, filtering it, and then releasing much purer and cleaner air back out.
Some tips when purchasing your air purifier: make sure that your air purifier has a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). The higher that number is, the faster your purifier can filter the air. Also, make sure that your purifier can cover the space you need to filter. Some models cater to whatever space you wish to purify, whether that be a large room like your living room or an area like your bedroom. If you choose to invest in a smaller air purifier, you will need to move them around your room to ensure the air in that area is thoroughly filtered.
Additionally, it’s essential to make sure that you are changing your air filters regularly. If not, your air filters will trap months’ (years?? eek!) worth of particles that are recirculated throughout your home. It’s recommended that you should change your air filters every 90 days. But if you have pets, you should be changing them every 60 days. You might not be able to control what’s floating around in the air outside your home, but you have control over the air inside your home. The air you breathe in is important, so make sure it’s as pure and clean as possible.
Another good thing to invest in is a humidifier. A humidifier will help to reduce particles in the air. Humidity levels of 30-40 percent have shown to decrease airborne pathogens, and in some instances, removing those allergens altogether. Additionally, humidifiers can help your body maintain its defense systems and keep your nose from drying out too much, which can get pretty uncomfortable when you’re suffering from allergy symptoms.
A humidity level of 30 percent can keep your nose and throat from drying out by helping your body create a healthy mucus layer not to have your nose and throat cracked. While that may be a little gross, it is a helpful tip for keeping your uncomfortable allergy attacks at bay. It’s important to make sure your humidifier levels stay around 30-40 percent. Once you hit levels of 50 percent and up, the air can become too moist and lead to the creation of mold spores and dust mites, which is quite the opposite thing you want to happen if you suffer from allergies. Keep your humidity levels regulated and your humidifiers cleaned often, and it can help reduce seasonal allergies and their side effects.
There’s no telling how much dust, dander, and allergens are hiding in your rugs, couches, carpets, or pillows. So, turn on some music and clean, clean, clean. Here are the essential things to make sure you’re tackling on your spring cleaning days: Vacuum your carpets and rugs at least once or twice a week. You can find vacuum cleaners equipped with HEPA filters that will help to tackle those allergens living on your surfaces.
Change out your bedding regularly, and clean any items that can hold onto allergens and particles such as drapes, blankets, or table runners. Don’t skip the dusting! Dusting is one of the most important ways to get rid of dust mites, which can be a huge irritant to your allergies. It’s also helpful to declutter your home, which will help reduce the number of surfaces and objects that dust and dust mites can cling to. Plus, a pro tip: when dusting, use a damp rag because it will help collect and trap those dust particles better. Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore. A clean home is a happy home, and in this instance, an allergen-free home.
Most of your springtime allergies can be attributed to pollen, whether from flowers, trees, or something more specific like ragweed–a natural nasty allergen inducer for many people. One of the easiest things you can do is to try to avoid these allergens in the first place. The highest pollination days are when it is warm and windy outside. It’s best to try to stay indoors if at all possible during days like this. The best time to go outside is after it has rained, which clears the pollen out of the air.
Take a shower at night. Pollen can attach itself to you throughout the day, especially if you have been outside. Remove the clothes that have been exposed to pollen and clean them. Washing them will also get any lingering particles out of your hair. Monitor your local air quality. This can be done through your weather app, local weather stations, or online. Pollen levels tend to be higher in the morning, so try to avoid planning outdoor activities when those levels are at their peak. Finally, delegate tasks that need to be outdoors, like picking weeds or mowing the yard (this isn’t a fun chore anyways). By knowing how to reduce your exposure to allergen triggers, you can nip your allergies in the bud before they start.
While air fresheners and candles can help your home smell great, they are also releasing tons of toxic fumes and chemicals into your home, which you are then breathing in. Take a look at the ingredient list on your favorite candle or air freshener. If you can’t pronounce or recognize any of the 20 plus ingredients, it might not be a good idea to be actively breathing them in. Instead, opt for natural candles or essential oils. There are plenty of candles out there that contain natural ingredients like soy or beeswax while perfumed by natural essences or essential oils. And, a lot of them even look cute.
Essential oils can also be an excellent alternative to your Bath and Body Works air fresheners. Essential oils such as lemongrass and eucalyptus can also play a dual role in helping your house smell amazing while also having the proven natural ability to purify and clean the air. All you’ll need is an oil diffuser, which comes in many different sizes and designs to fit your particular need or aesthetic. By utilizing natural options and cutting out on the toxins you breathe in, you stand a better chance at helping your respiratory system and fighting those irritant-induced allergy symptoms.
Becoming a plant parent is all the rage now. Plants are fun, aesthetically pleasing, and can purify your air while taking your home décor to the next level. Indoor plants can help purify your air by removing chemicals and pollutants such as formaldehyde, xelene, benzene, carbon monoxide, and tolune while also producing and circulating oxygen throughout your home. Houseplants can be so beneficial that NASA even recommended the best air purifying plants, including snake plants, areca palm, spider plants, aloe vera, and a rubber plant.
In addition to producing oxygen and clearing out toxins, these plants are also known to help with breathing disorders, sleep apnea, and promote healthy overnight sleep. All of these plants are also easy to care for and require low maintenance. Who knew purifying your air could also double as a home décor project? An important thing to note: some plants can be toxic to pets, so before you create your indoor jungle, make sure your plants won’t harm your fur babies.
Allergies can put a real damper on the new season, and they can affect everyone a little differently. There isn’t a singular cure, but hopefully, by following these six tips and tricks, you’ll be able to help keep your air clean and purified and be able to prevent your allergies before they start in the first place. Have a little fun with your spring cleaning, create your indoor plant jungle, check your weather app, invest in a few things to improve your indoor air quality, and swap out your chemical-ridden air fresheners. You’ll be ditching the box of tissues and enjoying the changing season and blooming trees.