You might as well tie a dish towel around your neck and grab the closest mop because you’re about to fight for the life of your lungs (and watery eyes and itchy nose). Just call yourself the Allergy Avenger.
Sure, you may be the least-attractive superhero in history — that runny nose is pretty disgusting — but being comfortable in your own home is worth the battle scars and crumpled tissues.
Here are four ways to fight allergens before you move into your new place.
1. Beat dust
Dust and pollen are a huge source of aggravation for allergy sufferers. Before you move into your new pad, focus on clearing dust from easily forgotten cracks and corners.
Window blinds are traditionally an annoying item to clean since they often must be cleaned on both sides — and they’re notorious for attracting dust. Apartment Therapy recommends replacing blinds with roller shades, which are less likely to trap dust over time and are easier to clean.
Roller shades tend to block more light, making them great for bedrooms. Allergy sufferers often fight their biggest battles in the bedroom, spending long blocks of uninterrupted time sleeping — and deeply breathing in airborne allergens.
Pro tip: If you’re a renter or otherwise unable to upgrade your window coverings, try removing the blinds and giving them a nice soapy soak in your bathtub at least once a year.
2. Fight mold
Fight mold in your apartment by focusing on dark or damp areas. Start with the bathroom, especially if it lacks a ventilation system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, mold is most likely to accumulate in the shower and tub, including the shower curtain. If the former tenant left their shower liner behind, don’t try to save money: buy a new one.
Pro tip: If you own a high-quality (yet moldy) liner, try throwing it into a warm laundry cycle with your bath towels. Just remember to hang dry so you’re not left with a melted plastic mess.
However, mold also grows on leaky plumbing fixtures. It’s important to check the plumbing under your kitchen sink since it’s a dark and often forgotten area. Fill a spray bottle with a solution of four parts water to one part bleach and spritz down the offending areas, wiping clean with a cloth or sponge. You can find other cleaning hacks here.
3. Defend soft surfaces
A number of allergens can get trapped in soft surfaces, such as carpets and curtains. If the previous owner or tenant had a pet, and you’re allergic, you may need to defend against dander — and vacuuming may not be enough. If your new place is heavily carpeted, consider renting a steam cleaner from your local hardware store.
WebMD recommends wet vacuuming not only to wash carpets, but also to kill those irritating dust mites with steam heat. Otherwise, dry vacuuming can stir dust and make breathing even more difficult.
4. Take action with an air purifier
Once you’ve eradicated the enemy, it’s time to set up a long-term solution. Air purifiers offer consistent air quality by filtering out everyday allergens. If you’re curious about which one is right for you, you’re in luck!
New York Times writer Steven Kurutz, a longtime allergy sufferer, already took the sniff test for you, trying out six air purifiers for effectiveness.
What are some of your favorite tips for keeping home allergies at bay? Share your thoughts in the comments below.