How to remove pet allergens from your new home

Cat and dog

You’ve found the home of your dreams, the paperwork is signed and the keys are in hand. What do you do if your new home was once shared with a four-legged friend that you or one of your family members are allergic to? Read on for tips and ideas to help everyone in your household breathe a little easier.

Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner

While bacteria, dust mites and pet dander are most often found in furniture and beds that get moved out of the home before new owners arrive, carpeting is often a haven for allergens that even thorough cleaning can leave behind. Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter can bring relief by removing irritants from carpeting.

Install washable window treatments

Window shades and washable drapes are also a better choice for allergy sufferers, compared to long drapes and blinds that can collect dust and are more difficult to clean, according to WebMD.

Invest in new flooring

Bare floors are the best bet if you want to reduce pet allergens in your home. “Animal allergens are sticky. So you must remove the animal’s favorite furniture, remove wall-to-wall carpet and scrub the walls and woodwork,” reports the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Consider replacing old carpeting with hardwood floors or tile.

Get your air ducts professionally cleaned

Although there is no scientific evidence to support claims that air duct cleanings improve air quality, the system components of forced air systems can become contaminated with dust, pollen and other allergens. “It is surprising how much garbage you can find in your ducts,” says allergist and immunologist Julie McNairn, MD.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency you should consider a duct cleaning if your ducts are clogged with debris and contaminants, which are then released into your home. However, the EPA also notes that service providers could further contaminate your system if they don’t clean all of the components properly, so enlisting the help of qualified professionals is key. The EPA also suggests asking your service provider about any chemical treatments that they plan to use before they do so because these practices are not backed by data.

Food for thought

Moving into a new environment can trigger allergic reactions that you’ve never experienced before. For example, horse allergies affect nearly 4% of all people with allergies. Horse dander is often found hundreds of yards away from the source, which means you don’t necessarily have to own horse property yourself to be affected. Be sure to thoroughly research and explore potential neighborhoods and to ask about area allergens before closing the deal on your new house.

If you or a family member begin experiencing symptoms in a new city or environment, check in with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. “It is important to work with your doctor to learn what triggers your allergies and determine the best treatments for you to enjoy your life unencumbered by allergies,” says Dr. Cary Sennett, AAFA’s president and CEO.

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