The Bucket Theory - Why Allergen Avoidance Works Against Allergens and Dust Mites
General Information About Allergies And Dust Mites
Allergy physicians tell us that people are most allergic to dust and dust mites, mold spores, pollens and animal danders. A common mistake made by allergy sufferers is to assume if you can't avoid all the allergens all the time, there is no point in trying to avoid any of them. But, according to allergy physicians, breathing in airborne allergens is a cumulative problem.
|THE MAIN CULPRIT|
|Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like creatures that live in bedding, carpets and upholstered furniture. The waste they produce causes allergic symptoms in 30-60 million Americans. Pillows and mattresses are a virtual paradise for dust mites because they thrive in warm, humid conditions while gorging themselves on shed human skin cells. Since people spend 8-10 hours a day in the bedroom, it's where the greatest number of dust mites exist. So get a leg up on dust mites. Make them feel unwelcome by washing bedding regularly, using zippered encasings, treating or removing your carpet, and filtering the air in your home with a True HEPA air cleaner (see tips below).|
|This uninvited guest is in your home... right under your nose!|
Here are some smart and easy tips for ridding your bedroom of Dust Mites:
#1 Use dust mite proof encasings on all bedding.
Your bed is where you spend the most time while you are in your room, and therefore it's where the most dust mites live. All of our creature comforts also make a home for dust mites. And we supply them with plenty of food from shed skin flakes and water from our normal moisture loss. But dust mites cannot affect you if they are trapped inside our special encasings. So, be sure to cover pillows, mattresses, and comforters, which are all on special this month in our SatinSoft and Cotton-Guard Ultra fabrics. And don't forget about pillow shams, duvets, and box springs as these items certainly need to be encased with dust-mite impermeable covers as well. The key to an allergy-free sanctuary is controlling allergens at the core, the bed.
#2 Wash bedding in HOT water or use an anti-allergen additive or detergent.
Dust mites love blankets and mattress pads but you can avoid infestation by washing them regularly in hot water (130° F). While in college, I had a Vellux Blanket for this purpose - easily washable, soft and durable. You might also add a product like De-Mite to the wash water. Another option is using a special detergent like the Anti-Allergen brand which makes dust mite allergen harmless in any temperature wash.
#3 Treat carpet with an anti-dust mite spray or powder.
Tearing up the carpet and installing hard wood floors is the ideal solution since carpeting is a large reservoir of allergen. Short of that, there are a number of different products that either kill dust mites or render their allergen harmless so as to not give you the sniffles! For a primer on why and how dust mite sprays and powders work, take a glance at our Learning Library article which is all about the different dust mite treatments available. Also, our Dust Mite Treatments Comparison Chart is a handy quick reference for choosing which treatment may be best for your room.
#4 Lower humidity with a dehumidifier & monitor levels regularly.
Lowering your home's humidity to 50% or less can be a great help. It seems so simple, but low humidity levels mean fewer dust mites and less chance for mold growth. Scan over the first half of our article on Springtime Allergies - it's all about dehumidification.
#5 Stop incoming dust with furnace & vent filters.
Another good way to reduce allergens in your room (and your entire home) is with a high-efficiency furnace filter. They're available in a permanent version, which requires monthly cleaning or in a disposable version, which requires quarterly replacement. Of the two, the disposable furnace filters do the best job capturing small particles. But both of these are far superior to the porous, fiberglass filters found in many hardware stores. Attaching a vent filter to the incoming air register in your room is a simple and economical way to further help create an allergy-free bedroom environment.
#6 Make allergy-conscious decorating choices.
Making decorating choices can mean different things to different people. I'll refrain from advising you on color and fabric choices. However, as a fellow allergy sufferer, I certainly agree with allergy physicians and advise against dust collectors like heavy cloth curtains, bed ruffles, stuffed toys and cluttered bookshelves. My bedroom has a hard wood floor with one throw rug, which I vacuum regularly with a high efficiency HEPA vacuum (you'll have to follow the link to see which machine I use). Nor does my room contain any upholstered furniture - both for allergy reasons and space constraints. You should also avoid decorative pillows (unless they are encased with an allergy-proof cover).
#7 Remove airborne allergens with a True HEPA Air Cleaner.
The HEPA air cleaner beside our bed runs like a champ all day, every day. It provides a bit of pleasant white noise while we sleep and contributes to a good, allergy-free night's rest. A room air cleaner is not the sole answer for an allergy-free bedroom, but it can be an important contributor - especially for those who have sensitivities to pollen, animal dander or mold as these are the most likely allergens to become airborne in the bedroom. National Allergy's "real world" testing has shown that a good HEPA air cleaner can reduce particle counts by up to 90% in the bedroom when using the proper machine for the room size. Learn more about Indoor Air Quality And Filtration from our Learning Library. Also, our Air Cleaner Comparison Chart will give you a good snapshot of National Allergy's air cleaner offerings
Making my bedroom an Allergy Safe Zone has been my biggest key to recovery from serious environmental allergies. Not only did these measures offer quick relief from persistent symptoms when I was first diagnosed, but as I have continued in the habit of keeping allergens controlled, my propensity for allergy attacks, headaches and other symptoms has been almost zero. May your own Allergy Safe Zone bring you the same relief that I have experienced and always be an allergy-free retreat.