Make your home allergen-free

Allergy season is back, and another miserable year for the “wheezes and sneezes” is being predicted. Kids of all ages — from babies to teens — are vulnerable to things like dust, hay fever, pollen, and mold. You may not be able to control the outdoors, but you can control your indoor living spaces, turning them into allergy-free zones.

Robin Wilson is a healthy space designer and head of Robin Wilson Home. She is an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and has a hypoallergenic bedding line at Bed Bath and Beyond.

She says most parents don’t realize that their home is probably making their kids sick, but there are simple solutions to help.

Her tips:

• Make sure your children use synthetic pillows instead of feathered ones, and anti-allergen or hypoallergenic pillow cases and covers. Wash the pillow case once a week, the pillow protector at least once a month, and wash the pillow at least twice a year. Replace your children’s pillows every three years.

• Don’t use a vinyl shower curtain in your child’s bathroom, because it holds mold more easily, which could lead to off-gassing (the release of a chemical, especially a harmful one, in the form of a gas). Instead, choose a nylon curtain.

• Use non-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints in your child’s bedroom, which won’t off-gas, leave an obnoxious paint odor, or stir up asthma or allergies. It looks just as good on the wall as regular paint.

• Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting in your child’s bedroom. Tile and hardwood floors are a much better choice, but must be cleaned on a regular basis to eliminate dirt and dust. Shake out and vacuum area rugs on a regular basis as well. Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter.

• Watch for mold in your child’s sinks and bath drains. Other likely places in the home to find mold is in dishwashers and refrigerator pans.

• Use slip covers on sofas and chairs that can be washed regularly to eliminate dirt and dust. This is especially important if your children spend a lot of time reading or watching TV in the living room.

• Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom and definitely don’t ever let them on the bed. Pets should be bathed often to reduce dander.

• Make sure your children take their shoes off before coming inside. This prevents the outside world from coming in.

Please consider these simple ways to make your home cleaner and safer, which will help reduce children’s allergies.