Ah, spring! The days are getting longer, the flowers are blossoming, and, oh yeah, your head’s been throbbing for a solid two weeks from all the pollen floating around. If you feel you’ve been suffering a bit more than usual this allergy season, take some solace in knowing that you have plenty of company.
Due to the climate crisis and our ever-warming planet, future allergy seasons are likely to start more than a month earlier and be far more intense. Add that to an already arduous allergy season, which typically begins with tree pollen in March and ends with grass pollen in August, and you’re going to need all the antihistamines (and help) you can get.
So how the heck can you keep this pollen frenzy from entering your home and wreaking havoc on your system every minute of every day? Create an indoor sanctuary, of course.
We spoke to several home experts to get their best tips on pollen-proofing your home while Mother Nature does her messy thing.
1. Shower ASAP when you get home
Remember the early days of COVID-19 when health experts told us to strip at the door, throw our clothes in the laundry, and shower immediately? Well, you’re going to want to channel a bit of that intensity during allergy season, especially if you plan to keep your home pollen-free.
“Pollen is likely to adhere to your clothes, skin, and hair if you’ve been outside for an extended period of time,” says Robin Antill, director of Leisure Buildings. “Change your clothes before coming into contact with any surfaces, especially upholstered furniture, and take a shower to remove pollen from your skin and hair.”
2. Take off your shoes
Much like clothing, dirty shoes have a way of holding on to pollen particles and spreading them throughout the home. One way to avoid this? By instituting a no-shoes policy for the next few months.
“Get a doormat and urge visitors to remove their shoes,” says garden-room designer Tiffany Payne, of Orangeries. “This can really help reduce the amount of dirt that enters your home, and while it’s tough to keep all outside debris out, you can at least minimize it.”
3. Invest in pet wipes
You and your guests aren’t the only ones tracking pollen indoors. Our furry friends are another avenue through which allergens can make it into the home. So now’s a great time to invest in pet wipes and get your pooch used to a front door wipe down.
“Pollen especially likes to hide in animal fur,” says Antill. “Bath your pets frequently to eliminate the pollen, especially after an extended time spent outside.”
4. Park your car in the garage
Another expressway to Pollentown? Your car. But we’re not just talking about the coat of yellow dust on your hood. If your ride sits outside long enough, that pollen might just work its way into your car’s air vents. You’ll have pollen blown right on you that you’ll then trek into your home.
“When feasible, park vehicles in garages,” advises Antill. “Pollen can collect on your car and get pulled into the air vents the next time you use the AC. So now’s the time to tackle garage organization if you are parking outside due to clutter.”
5. Change your HVAC filters
As allergy season kicks into high gear, now’s also the perfect time to change the HVAC filters in your home.
“Every late February or early March, you should change your air filters in your home to ensure that they’re filtering out as much pollen and allergens as possible,” says Peter Murray of Murray Steel Buildings. “If you don’t change your filters, then they won’t be able to work as effectively, and you’ll have more pollen and other allergens pumping through your home.”
6. Check your windows
Keep pollen outside by making sure your windows and doors are properly sealed and closed—lest the next spring storm decides to blow in some unwelcome spores.
“Pollen will find a way into your home if you don’t have properly installed and insulated doors and windows,” says Murray. “It doesn’t matter quite as much whether you have single-pane vs. double-pane windows—just that they close fully. You don’t want any gaps or spaces that can provide a way for pollen to get into your home.”
7. Get an air purifier
If your allergies are still terrible indoors after doing every possible bit of pollen mitigation, it might be time to invest in an air purifier.
“While expensive, air purifiers function by trapping a large percentage of particles and dust that’s in your home,” says Payne. Air purifiers can also help mitigate a variety of allergens, including pet dander and even lingering cigarette smell.
Have a small space? Consider getting one of these compact Molekule air purifiers.