The pollen count outside may not be the only thing that has you reaching for an antihistamine. Allergens can lurk indoors, too.
A good place to start is with bedding. Washing your sheets weekly in hot water and running them through a hot dryer can ease allergy symptoms. Hot water reduces pet dander. Dust mites will either drown or die in the hot-air cycle. Next, cover box springs, mattresses, and pillowcases with a tightly woven fabric that’s dust-mite proof.
It's also a good idea to control the moisture in your home. Humidity at 30 to 50 percent helps reduce mites and mold. The right-sized air conditioner helps cut humidity. Dehumidifiers also work, but they generate heat. So save them for your basement.
Air purifiers can also be useful for removing dust and pollen. Consumer Reports tests their effectiveness in a sealed chamber. Top-rated portable air cleaners include the Honeywell HPA 300 for $250.
If you have a heating or cooling system that is forced-air, consider opting for a thicker filter, which testers found more effective. But it may require professional installation. Based on its tests, Consumer Reports says a good choice is the $29 Filrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen Filter 4 MPR 1550, available online.
And don't forget that your vacuum can kick up dust and aggravate allergies. Consumer Reports finds these vacuums are good for low emissions, the Hoover WindTunnel Max model UH30600 for $180 and the Kenmore Elite model 3115 for $350. Allergy and asthma suffers might want to stay away from bagless vacuums, which can stir up dust.
Consumer Reports says there are other simple remedies. Dust can harbor allergens, so keep your house clean. Also ban smoking and make sure your home is well-ventilated with exhaust hoods or fans in the kitchen and bathroom.