15. SCALD THE WASH AND RINSE WELL. A study at Yonsei University in South Korea looked at what it took to clean dust mites, dog dander, and tree pollen—three of the most common allergens—off your sheets.
For dust mites it turns out that cold water killed 5 to 8 percent. Warm water killed 7 to 11 percent. Hot water—60°C or 140°F—killed 100 percent.
For dog dander the results were similar—although nearly all allergens were removed at all wash temperatures when rinsing twice or more.
For tree pollen using hot water was more effective than other temperatures. Rinsing at least once removed tree pollen at all temperatures.
16. WASH AND WASH AGAIN. Wash clothes and bedding weekly, says Dr. Anderson. It’s the only way to stay on top of the allergens that disrupt sleep.
17. USE THE DRYER. Hanging laundry on the line allows a zillion pollens and molds to collect on sheets, clothes, and towels. When you fold your laundry, drop it into the laundry basket, and haul it back into your home, you’re contaminating your house with millions upon millions of the very things to which you may be allergic.
18. REDUCE THE LOAD. To help reduce dust mites—which are everywhere in every home and aggravate every allergy—vacuum rugs and blinds often, says Dr. Anderson. Use a high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Good vacuums will also pick up pet dander.
19. DOUBLE BAG. You’re more likely to make a clean sweep of dust mites if you double bag your vacuum cleaner.
20. REDUCE HUMIDITY. Dust mites love moist areas. To discourage them from colonizing your home, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 50 percent, suggests Dr. Anderson. And don’t forget to run an exhaust fan in the bathroom when you shower and in the kitchen when you cook.
21. INSTALL AIR-CONDITIONING. If you can afford it, it will help keep pollen out of your home and keep the humidity low to discourage dust mites. If you can’t afford to air-condition your whole space, try using a room-size window air conditioner in your bedroom. It may help you sleep. Budget not up to even that? Then buy a HEPA filter and shape it to fit over your bedroom window screen, says Dr. Anderson. The pollens won’t get in.
22. CHANGE FILTERS. On both cooling and heating systems. Those filters help trap allergens, but they’ll get clogged unless they’re changed every three months. HEPA filters are a bit pricey but are clearly the most effective.
23. BAN PETS. Not from your life, of course, but from your bedroom. A lot of people are apparently allergic to dog and cat dander without even being aware of it, says Dr. Anderson. They think their itchy nose and sneezing are due to something else altogether. But play it on the safe side. Let Beans or Spike or Rufus sleep in his own bed several rooms away from yours.
24. COVER THE MATTRESS. And especially the pillows. The cost of “allergy-proof” mattress and pillow covers can give you a heart attack, but those babies are worth their weight in gold. Dust mites are everywhere in everyone’s home—and one of their preferential living spaces is your mattress. Zipping up the mattress and pillows in a mite-proof cover assures that the little critters can’t interfere with your sleep.
25. BUY LEATHER. Leather does not collect dust mites the way fabric-covered furniture does, says Dr. Anderson. So buy leather-covered furniture where you can—vinyl where you can’t.
26. LEAVE YOUR FLOORS BARE. Wall-to-wall carpeting harbors dust mites and pollen, while hardwood, tile, and vinyl don’t. If you still crave something colorful on your floor, buy a few washable throw rugs and wash them weekly on a hot-water cycle.
27. KEEP AIR FRESH. In a study at the University of Washington in Seattle, researchers found that nearly half of all study participants with seasonal allergies also had allergy-type reactions to common household pollutants, such as household cleaning products, cigarette smoke, perfume, and aftershave. Why those with allergies were more likely to be sensitive to indoor pollutants isn’t known.
28. MONITOR BATHROOM, KITCHEN, AND BASEMENT. These are three areas that tend to be more humid than the rest of the home. As a result, they’re more prone to developing an allergy-triggering mold that will send spores winging their way through the entire house.To eliminate mold, use a cleaning solution containing 5 percent bleach and a small amount of detergent. Moldy wallpaper or carpeting should be ditched.