Allergies strike at inconvenient times. When the culprit is indoor allergens, the congestion, sneezing, itching and watery eyes might happen as you’re trying to enjoy a quiet evening at home. Fortunately, you can avoid symptoms by taking these steps to create a barrier between your home and these common allergens.

Dust Mites

The number one cause of allergy and asthma symptoms is droppings from dust mites. The microscopic pests populate in the bedroom, upholstered furniture and carpets, but are found everywhere in the home. Protect your bedding with dust-mite-proof covers for pillows, mattresses and box springs. You should keep these covers zippered shut.


Launder bedding every seven to 10 days in hot water in order to kill mites. Use a HEPA filter or double bag when vacuuming. If your child has stuffed toys, place them in a freezer bag and freeze for three to five hours weekly, or stick to toys you can throw in the washer. Hardwood flooring gathers less dust than carpeting and is easier to clean. If you can’t replace your carpets entirely, consider low-pile carpet instead of thick shag to create a less dust-mite-friendly environment.


Mold tends to appear in damp and dark places like basements and bathrooms. Remove carpeting in these areas and install tile or wood flooring. Mold-resistant enamel paint or tile is better than wallpaper. Keep out water by repairing leaky pipes and use an overhead fan to increase ventilation in the bathroom.


If your bathroom has accumulated mold, remove it with a 5 percent bleach mixture. To prevent mold from taking hold again, keep the humidity down by closing doors and windows during warm weather and wash your shower curtains.


Dander and saliva from cats and dogs can trigger allergic reactions. To minimize the effect, keep pets out of the bedroom. There may be no such thing as a “hypoallergenic” pet, but some breeds have less dander, like Portuguese water dogs and poodles. Regardless of your pet’s breed, allergens are present even if you keep your pets out of the house entirely. Try to keep carpets, drapes, clothing and other areas free of pet dander. If possible, replace your carpet with hardwood or linoleum flooring.


Although many assume pollen is an outdoor, seasonal allergy, pollen travels inside the house. Most often, it’s carried on clothing, shoes, animal fur or any items brought into the home. You can wipe down your pet’s fur with a damp cloth after a walk in order to reduce the pollen, and change your clothes and shoes as soon as you come into the house. If your allergies are severe, you might also shower and wash your hair after being outside.


Summer sun may make the clothesline tempting, but don’t hang your sheets out to dry if you have a pollen allergy. Pollen will collect on the linens and travel back into the house. Keep the windows closed during pollen season and run an air purifier with a HEPA filter to reduce the presence of the allergen.


Allergy-proofing your home takes effort, but over time you can create a healthy sanctuary for yourself and your family. Once steps to reduce allergen build-up become routine, you establish an environment where you can enjoy quiet time without worrying about allergic symptoms.