As a seasonal allergy sufferer, I’ve spent a large part of my adult life having a love-hate relationship with spring time whenever it rolls around. In fact, my allergies are so bad that when I underwent an allergy test, the wide-eyed doctor asked if he could take a picture of the countless inflamed allergy pricks on my back to show his colleagues. Yeah, I was that patient. He pretty much said that I was allergic to life, especially the outdoors, which felt like a dagger to my heart since I LOVE the outdoors.
For some, allergies don’t seem like a big deal, but if you’re like me, allergy season is the start of itchy red eyes, irritability, clogged sinuses, and brain fog. Simple things turn into monumental tasks of focus and energy. If you feel me, keep reading because there’s hope! If you don’t completely feel me, did you know many people develop allergies as adults? Dun dun dun!
As co-founder and head of product here at Coop, you can say I have a thing for tinkering and experimentation. When it comes to allergies, I’ve literally put them in my crosshairs and spent years trying to figure out how to minimize their impact, as I’ve realized that they hinder me from being my best self.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned that have helped me successfully curb my arch nemesis: allergies. There’s no magic bullet, but I truly believe it’s a holistic effort of multiple disciplines.
I have no idea who Dr. Mehta is, but this contraption is just as important as my toothbrush during my nighttime routine. It may seem a bit invasive at first, but it quickly becomes a normal part of getting ready for bed. You just use saline water to flush out all the gunk and allergens from your sinuses so that you can get a restful night of sleep.
This is so important. You don’t have control of what’s going on outside as Mother Nature turns everything yellow with pollen, but inside your home, you have a fighting chance!
1. Central HVAC filter
If you’re like me, this is an often overlooked maintenance item, but trust me: go look at your central HVAC air filter and replace that horrendous thing as soon as possible. This is a critical part of making sure that when you have your system running, it’s catching and circulating clean air.
Most people use their central HVAC for temperature control, but during allergy season, I recommend running the system frequently so that it can filter dust and allergens. If you don’t need heating or cooling, just run the system on “fan.”
2. Standalone air purifier
I highly highly recommend getting an air purifier that uses a HEPA-grade filter. A lot of these systems are pricey, but if you’re like me, you’re breathing air 24/7, so investing into improving the quality is a no-brainer.
Some of these systems are expensive, so what I did was buy a used unit on eBay. All I had to do was clean it up and install a brand new set of filters. Voila, great performance at half the price!
On these units, the price of the filters are what really get you, so a great way to extend the filter life is to vacuum out the pre-filter that catches the majority of the dust. This will make sure that you get maximum life on the actual HEPA filter.
Make sure to put the air purifier in the room you use the most, which is most likely the bedroom. You are getting eight hours of sleep, right?
This Coway unit is a top-rated unit by a few different consumer testing companies.
Pro tip: put one of our Natural Charcoal Deodorizers near your air purifier to help remove unwanted odors in your house.
3. Vehicle cabin air filter
This is another often overlooked maintenance item! As we’re driving around, imagine how much dust, debris, and pollen is being kicked up by all the traffic. The air intake is usually also where all those annoying leaves, pine needles, and allergens collect at the base of your windshield. Make sure you service your car’s cabin air filter so that you have fresh clean air wherever you go.
Your vacuum is essentially another version of an air filter, so it’s really important that whatever you use has a good filtration system. If your vacuum doesn’t, it’s going to pick up dust and allergens and kick them back in the air.
I personally use a Dyson vacuum because it has two sets of air filters—yeah I know, those things are pricey, but I was able to score a refurbished one from Dyson directly on eBay for a great price.
Pro tip: run your central HVAC and standalone air purifier on the highest setting while vacuuming.
You’re spending eight hours a night lying in your beloved bed, but it’s either coddling you to Dreamland or suffocating you in allergens.
1. Seek hypoallergenic materials.
Use hypoallergenic materials as much as possible. Dust mites love organic materials, so you want to make sure that your bedding is not a feeding ground. Natural materials, like down, are not the best for allergy sufferers.
2. Wash your bedding often in hot water.
This might be gross, but the truth is that your body is shedding skin cells and oil. Washing your bedding often eliminates dust and also any food for dust mites.
3. Try to minimize high pile, textured fabrics in your home.
Not everyone can rip up the carpet and replace it with hardwood, but choosing to use materials that aren’t dust traps in other areas such as the couch, rugs, curtains, throws, etc. is an easy fix. Look for materials that have a tighter woven fabric or are easy to wipe down, like leather or faux leather.
Just a few more tips to reduce those allergens!
1. Wipe down horizontal surfaces that are often overlooked.
This can be under the bed, the top of the fridge, behind the TV, etc. Your new air purifier should help keep the dust down overall, so you won’t need to do this as often. A key area is window sills that can have dust and debris blown in by wind, the gardeners, or nearby traffic.
2. Stop wearing your shoes inside.
Leave your shoes by the door so you don’t track everything that you’ve stepped in throughout the day all over the house.
3. Groom your pets.
Don’t forget to brush and groom your furry friends often to reduce stray hair!
4. Clean your washing machine.
If you have a front loading washer, run an empty load with bleach and hot water. Also, check behind the gasket that seals the door, as it’s a prime spot for mold buildup. After a wash load, always leave the door open for the moisture to dry out. Closing the door right after a wash provides a prime environment for mold to grow.
Good luck in your journey conquering allergies!
These tips might not be the perfect solution for everyone, but I think as long as we continue to experiment and figure out how to reduce our allergies naturally, we’ll all win eventually.
On those days when pollen rains down, I might have to take some allergy pills, but my overall reliance on them has decreased significantly over the years, and I feel so much better!