Healthy Home Tips
Mold has gotten a lot of attention in the past few years because of the health problems it can create. Soto suggests keeping up on repairs in key rooms in your home, especially in the bathroom, to prevent mold from growing. "Mold and mildew are major triggers for allergies, and leaky pipes are ideal breeding grounds for these fast-growing allergens," the HGTV star explains. "If you live in humid climates where mildew is especially bad, be sure to wipe down your shower and tub after each use."
Dust is a common allergen that quickly collects on all the surfaces in your home. "To help keep dust from gathering, install easy-to-clean shades or machine-washable panels, and clean regularly," says Soto. "If you have curtains, take them down once every two months and have them dry-cleaned." The designer also recommends regular cleaning with a HEPA filter vacuum, which will help capture the allergy-inducing particles you can't see that collect in upholstery and carpets.
Cleaning your bedding is essential in defeating allergens – think of all the hours you spend in your bed and bedroom every day. "I'm especially sensitive to dust and dust mites, so I always use allergen-proof covers on my pillows and mattress and wash those weekly, along with all of my other bedding, in hot water to kill the dust mites," says Soto. She also recommends that you steam-clean your rugs and upholstered furniture every three to six months.
Filters are made to collect dust and other air particles. However, dirty filters can't do their job. Change your heating/air conditioning filters regularly (and never run your unit without filters). In addition, frequently clean or replace your vacuum filter so it can effectively catch allergens and not kick them back into the air.
You don't need to cover your yard in rocks to manage your allergies -- simply plant low-pollen plants. "Stick with bright, colorful flowers as they rely on insects rather than wind to transport their pollen," says Soto. "Because of this, brighter flowers tend to produce less pollen." Gladiolas and peonies are low-allergen plants.
Soto recommends planting flowers with higher pollen counts as far away from doors and windows as possible to discourage pollen from drifting indoors. In addition, take your shoes off outside before entering your house to prevent pollen and allergens from being tracked in from the outdoors.
Pollen counts tend to be high in the morning, so plan your outdoor activities for the afternoon. This will reduce your exposure to outdoor allergens as well as reduce the level of allergens that might catch a ride with you back into your home.
Be sure to catch Soto later this year in her brand new HGTV series The High Low Project. You can also find more allergen-free home and garden tips at www.facebook.com/Claritin.