We spend about one third of our lives in our bedroom.  Most of this time is spent in bed, so the bedroom is the most important room to be rid of dust mites, pet dander, and molds.

One of the most common indoor asthma and allergy triggers are dust mites.  Even though one cannot see them with the naked eye, dust mites are a fact of life and can be found almost anywhere; in our mattress, pillows, box spring, blankets, carpet, towels, upholstered furniture, drapes, and even in a child’s cuddly stuffed animals.  In fact, the typical mattress contains two million dust mites.  Imagine how many we breathe in every night!

Another major indoor trigger is animal dander (skin flakes).  Regardless of hair length, all warm-blooded household pets, even my white Bichon Mika, produce proteins in their dander and saliva that can trigger allergies (which, by the way, dust mites love to eat!).  Also, cat dander residue can linger in carpets for up to 20 weeks and in mattresses for years.

Unlike the northern United States and Canada, where molds diminish after the first snow, molds in Florida do not have a limited season.  Airborne mold spores can blow through an open window, door, or vent, and grow year-round particularly in dark, humid areas, such as basements, bathrooms, carpets, mattresses, refrigerators, and older homes.

We must protect our beds!  Cover pillows, mattresses and box springs with special allergen resistant covers.  Wash linens weekly in at least 130 degrees water and avoid down-filled (feather) comforters and pillows.  Keep in mind that a warm, humid area is not a good place for a bedroom, and that a mattress should be on a frame, not the floor.  Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help keep humidity under 50 percent.

Carpet and thick rugs are also an allergy no-no, as they tend to trap dirt, dander, mold, and dust mites.  If carpets are a must, vacuum weekly with a HEPA or ULPA vacuum cleaner, and try to wear a dust mask when cleaning.  When deciding to decorate, consider washable curtains or window shades rather than heavy drapes or blinds, as well as wood, leather, or vinyl furniture versus upholstered to keep the mites at bay.  Keep rooms uncluttered and utilize a HEPA air cleaner to keep indoor air as pure as possible.

Finally, because getting rid of the family pet may be too emotional, try to bath them weekly, keep them outdoors as much as possible, and definitely keep them out of one’s bed and even the bedroom completely.

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