Allergen Avoidance

Removing allergens from your environment is the best way to prevent allergy symptoms. We often hear about allergen avoidance. It’s impossible to completely avoid all allergens (like dust, dust mites, pollen, mold, pet dander, etc.) but you can definitely limit your exposure.

If you're serious about allergen avoidance, you really have to make time for the activities suggested below. The best way to make sure this happens is to have a schedule. Rotate the cleaning activities so that you're performing at least one of them every day at the same time. That way, it will be a brief chore blended into your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or bathing. Habits like these are much easier to maintain than a once-a-week "cleaning-fest" that you dread and try to avoid.

Allergen Avoidance Tips

The best way to avoid allergens varies depending on what you are allergic to.

  • Avoid being outside, especially on windy days.
  • If coming in for the rest of the day, shower immediately.
  • Close windows and use air conditioning to avoid contamination of indoor air with pollen.


  • Clean bathrooms twice weekly with bleach, especially:
    1. Shower curtains, walls, and tub
    2. Windows and sills
    3. Moist corners
  • Empty trash every day and clean trash containers once per week with bleach.
  • Keep humidity below 50% indoors. Use a dehumidifier if necessary to keep humidity down.
  • Stay out of below-ground basements. They are nearly impossible to keep mold-free.
  • Paint or varnish as many surfaces as possible since wood and wallpaper harbor mold.
  • If you have a mold problem in your home, contact a mold remediation professional for assistance. If you see mold growing on your wall or floor, there may be mold inside the walls or in your HVAC ducts as well, which is difficult to reach and remove. You shouldn’t be trying to remove mold, anyway, if you are allergic to it.

Pet Fur/Dander

  • If the pets must stay indoors, then:
    1. Wash them once every week or two.
    2. Brush outside daily.
    3. Never allow them in your bedroom.
    4. Vacuum twice weekly.
    5. If you want to welcome a new pet into your home, select a breed that does not shed much.
    6. In severe instances, you may need to find new homes for pets that shed excessively. Contact your local no-kill animal shelter or rescue group for help re-homing your pet.

Dust/Dust mites

  • Eliminate as much upholstery, carpeting, and rugs as possible. Shampoo the remainder monthly with tannic acid or another mite-killing agent.
  • Mop hard-surface floors and dust other surfaces with a damp cloth twice weekly.
  • Vacuums should have particle filters, as should furnace/air conditioners.
  • If your home has no forced-air circulation, consider room air cleaners at least for your bedroom.
  • Put plastic covers on all mattresses and pillows.
  • Wash sheets in hot water and dry on high once weekly.
  • Lower humidity below 40% (dust mites thrive in high humidity).

Note: While this list of tasks may be impractical for larger homes, you should at least have one allergy-free haven indoors: the bedroom. That's where people spend most of their in-house time (usually sleeping). Focusing allergy avoidance techniques there may be all that's necessary.  See the section on [Allergies] for an in-depth discussion.

If doing your best to avoid allergens does not relieve your allergy symptoms, you should see your doctor to discuss medications and other treatments. If your allergies ever cause difficulty breathing, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 right away.

More than allergen avoidance on our Self Care Home Page



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