You might have noticed all the yellow dust on your car lately. Once again spring is in the air and that means pollen counts are up, sneezing and itchy eyes are ever present, and allergy season is upon us. While the air outside is filled with pollen, the air inside your house can also contain pollen from air that gets in by opening doors, fresh air vents, or through other unintended pathways.
If pollen season weren’t enough, there’s also dust and bacteria that can float around in your house, particularly when you’re using a vacuum cleaner. Some vacuum cleaners create more problems for those with allergies, particularly older models. While not all vacuum’s are equal, most these days have some air filtering capability. You may wonder if they actually work and whether they at least reduce the mount of allergic material thrown into the air while in use.
Vacuums equipped with “high-efficiency particulate air” (HEPA) filters are supposed to trap 99% of pollen, dust, and bacteria, but according to the magazine Environmental Science & Technology, they release only slightly lower levels of dust and bacteria than vacuums that do not use HEPA filters. However, since most vacuums come with this technology today, it’s better than not having a vacuum without one.
Generally, it’s best to vacuum often to hold down accumulations of allergens, but there are other simple things you can do to reduce the amount of allergens in your indoor space. If you have severe allergies, it might be better to get rid of carpeting, as aging carpet is probably full dust mites, bacteria, pet dander, and other organic material that can trigger allergic reactions. If you have hard surface floors and use throw rugs, they should be washed frequently in hot water to get rid of allergens.
Of course, keeping your house clean, dusted, and vacuumed will go a long way to help keep your sneezing down. If not, there’s always allergy medications.