Spring is here - at last! Now for the not-so-good news: For many of us, the budding flowers and sprouting greens bring a less rosy side to the season: allergies.
Perhaps worse than being hampered by hay fever or a chronic cough is knowing that four of the most common asthma and allergy triggers probably lurk right under your nose.
Fortunately, it's never been easier to control your symptoms. It all starts at home, where the most common sneeze- and cough-causers skulk.
Simple changes in your home environment and allergen-focused basic cleaning practices can work wonders in helping control allergy symptoms.
Whether it's mold in the bathroom, animal dander in the family room, dust mites in the bedroom or seasonal outdoor allergies to grass, cypress, juniper or ragweed pollens, each has its own challenges and solutions.
For example, for the 15 percent of the population who react to animal dander - regular laundering of everything washable, from bedding to curtains, is key to controlling allergy symptoms.
A whopping 80 percent of asthmatic children are severely allergic to dust mites. The dropping and remains of the microscopic, eight-legged eyeless bugs that feed on human skin flakes are the actual allergens.
A generation of these nasty critters is born every three weeks, and the allergens continue to cause symptoms long after the mites have died.
Keeping dust mites in check is easy with proper laundering and good housekeeping. Regular cleaning is essential, since the mighty mites thrive in warm, moist places, including carpeting, open shelves, pillows, comforters, mattresses and upholstered furniture.
Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter or special vacuum designed to trap and hold allergens. And wash bedding and jammies weekly in warm water and dry on the hottest setting - this second step is crucial to killing the mites.
Control clutter in your home because it provides places for dust mites, pet dander, all that stuff to accumulate. That's something people don't focus on a lot, but it's something you can easily do to control allergy symptoms.
Check unlikely places for highly allergenic mold and mildew, and clean them up with disinfectant.
These year-round allergy triggers are commonly found in attics, basements and laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and around window frames.
Finally, to control allergy symptoms seasonally, practice diligent avoidance techniques, such as staying indoors as much as possible on hot, dry, and windy days during high-pollen count seasons.
Close windows when the grass is being mowed, during high-pollen-count or high-dust days, and at night. Minimize outdoor allergen sources by getting rid of dead or decaying materials such as fallen leaves, compost, and wood piles near your home.
If plants that you are allergic to are around your home, close nearby windows during pollen season.
Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the cleaning tools and products to keep allergens at bay in your home.