Allergies: Tips to cut down triggers at home

One of the first steps to battling allergies is to cut down your contact with triggers both outside and in your home. Your sheets, even kitchen counter tops can harbor pollen and dust. Also, there are some easy ways - using appliances you already have at home - to cut down on allergy triggers.

Dust can make you sick, so get rid of it. It's easier said than done and that's not the only allergen that makes Melinda Montanaro sick.

"My throat gets really itchy, my ears get itchy, my eyes get really dry and itchy," Montanaro said.

She loves fresh air - but something else comes in with it.

"There's usually a layer of pollen collecting on my kitchen counter tops," Montanaro said.

Whether allergens come from outside the house or in, Consumer Reports says your appliances can help you eliminate them.

First - clear the air. Close the windows and use your air conditioner instead. The A/C can also cut humidity, limiting the growth of mold and dust mites. But be sure to clean the filter regularly.

For hard to reach spots, use a do-it-yourself dust grabber. It's great for narrow spaces and with a little engineering, it can help you reach dusty cobwebs on the ceiling.

Allergens can settle on the large surface of your bed. Things like dust mites feed on dead skin flakes and like to accumulate in your bedding. Wipe them out by using the sanitizing cycle on your washer which uses extra heat to kill mites. And an extra rinse cycle can remove even more allergens.

Another broad space for allergens to gather? Floors.

Use your vacuum weekly to pull dust mites, mold, pollen and animal dander out of your carpets. And be sure to choose one with a HEPA filter that traps small particles and keeps them from going back into the air.

"Emptying dust from a bag-less vacuum can release particles back into the air - so if you have a vacuum with a bin, take it outside to empty it," advised Sue Booth with Consumer Reports.

Finally, a portable air purifier may help filter pollutants in your home. Look for ones that use a HEPA filter - and breathe easy.
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