Consumer Reports: Tips for fighting allergens in your home

If you're struggling with allergies, don't just look outside. Look inside, too. You could have plenty of allergy triggers at home.

Pollen and other things like mold and dust can also be hiding in your home and causing havoc.

Every spring and fall, Melinda Montanaro suffers from allergies.

"My throat gets really itchy. My ears get itchy. My eyes get really dry and itchy," she said.

Like many, Melinda would like to keep her windows open, but knows it's not just fresh air coming in.

"There's usually a layer of pollen collecting on my kitchen countertops," she said.

Whether allergens come from outside or inside the house, Consumer Reports says to put your appliances to use to eliminate them.

First - clear the air.

Keep pollen out by closing the windows and use your air conditioner instead. The air conditioner can also cut humidity, limiting the growth of mold and dust mites - just be sure to clean the filter regularly.

Allergens can also settle on the large surface of your bed.

Things like dust mites feed on dead skin flakes and like to accumulate in your bedding. Wipe them out by using the sanitizing cycle on your washer which uses extra heat that can kill mites. And an extra rinse cycle can remove even more allergens.

Another broad space for allergens to gather? Floors.

Use your vacuum weekly to pull dust mites, mold, pollen, and animal dander out of your carpets. Be sure to choose one with a HEPA filter that traps small particles and keeps them from going back into the air.

"Emptying dust from a bag-less vacuum can release particles back into the air, so if you have a vacuum with a bin, take it outside to empty it," said Sue Booth from Consumer Reports.

If you're a severe seasonal allergy sufferer, instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, consider covering your bare floors with washable throw rugs with rubber backing.

Also, a portable air purifier may help filter pollutants in your home. Look for ones that use a HEPA filter.

And one last tip. If you can, take a shower before you go to bed - especially if you've spent a lot of time outside. That way, any allergens clinging to you will go down the drain and not onto your bedding.
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