8 steps to an allergy friendly home

I’ve always lived in a house with carpet, but not for much longer. I’ve been searching for rental properties and one of my main requirements on my (long) checklist is that our new place must be carpet free. 

My partner has been telling me that this one condition is limiting our options. He makes a good point, but I have good reason too. I want to live in an allergy free home. I understand that no house is completely free of allergens, but there are ways you can minimise the risk of getting hayfever or asthma.

If you, your partner, or someone in your family has allergies, here are 8 steps toward an allergy friendly home:

1. Floors

If you have the option, choose hardwood or stone floors and try to avoid carpet. Have you noticed that carpet gets dirty easily? It’s a trap for dirt, dust, dust mites, crumbs and other sickening substances you probably don’t want to think about. It’s also hard to clean. The average vacuum does not have the power to suck up all of the allergens.

Low-pile carpeting is a better option for people that suffer from allergies. I would suggest vacuuming your carpet regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum and to have it professionally cleaned twice a year.

2. Blinds & curtains

We all know the biggest problem with blinds and curtains are that they collect dust. From my experience, Venetian timber blinds are the best option for three reasons. Firstly, they look great. Secondly, dust and allergens can be wiped off. Thirdly, these blinds effectively block the sun from entering the room if you like to sleep in darkness. The only issue is these blinds need to be dusted frequently.

Otherwise, washable roller-type shades will do just fine. But if you have curtains, replace them with washable fabrics.

3. Bathroom 

Bathrooms are the perfect place for mould to grow. The ideal bathroom would have a good ventilation system or window for the walls, ceilings and tiles to dry. Avoid opening your windows at night or on high pollen days.

You can check hayfever levels in your area by using the free web app PollenPulse. If you have shower curtains, I would recommend replacing them at least every three months.

4. Air conditioning

Air conditioning is essential for people with allergies because windows should be shut on high pollen days. Remember to check your air conditioning vents. They need to be cleaned regularly; otherwise it could be making your allergies worse if they are clogged with dust and dirt.

You could try covering these vents with cheesecloth, or use HEPA filters. As a general rule, the humidity in your house should be below 50% to reduce the risk of mould.

5. Furnishings

Choose easy to clean wood, metal or plastic furniture. Plastic furniture sounds strange but contemporary designer furniture such as the ghost chair by Philippe Starck have become a popular choice in many households. Avoid upholstered furniture like lounges.

Leather covers are a better option because they don’t absorb dust, dirt, or crumbs. Fabric covers for lounges are fine if they are removable and can be put in the wash.

6. Plants

Try to eliminate plants from your home. Plants usually contain pollen and promote the growth of mould from the damp dirt in plant pots.

However, if you’d like to decorate or brighten up your home there are low allergy flowers such as peonies, roses, poppies and tulips.

7. Cleaning facilities

Another requirement for my new home is that it must have a washing machine and drying machine. I like to wash my sheets once a week because I have allergies.  People sweat when they sleep, and this produces the perfect environment for dust mites and bed bugs.

You can avoid these pests from laying in your bed by exposing your mattress and pillows to sunlight, and by washing your sheets once a week in hot water. I’d also suggest buying allergen-proof mattress and pillow protectors.

8. Pets

Most people love animals, especially house pets. Keep in mind when cats and dogs go outside pollen can get stuck in their fur.

To prevent them from spreading pollen and other allergens in your home you should wash them once a fortnight and ban them from the bedroom.

This 2-step questionnaire may help you better describe your symptoms to healthcare professionals.