9 Easy tips to help allergy-proof your home

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- While there's no way to escape allergens completely -- unless you live in a hermetically sealed clean room -- there are some things you can do to allergy-proof your home as much as possible.

3TV's Javier Soto got some simple tips from Kim Byrne, the pediatric asthma educator at Cardon Children's Medical Center.

First and perhaps most important, change your air filters every month. This is something that's easy to forget or put off, but it makes a world of difference. Byrne suggests you pick a date -- perhaps the first -- and stick to it.

Cleaning -- particularly dusting and vacuuming -- is a must. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter and make sure it's clean. HEPA filters trap particles, keeping them from recirculating and spewing back into the air.

You also might consider investing in a small room filter.

"It'd be nice to have one in your bedroom," Byrne said. "Your bedroom is the most important room to keep allergy free."

To that end, you might want to evict Fido and Fluffy from the bedrooms. At the very least, keep them off the beds.

"When you have animals that come in and out of your house, what they're doing is bringing in grass, pollen and dust from the outdoors," Byrne said.

Dogs need weekly baths. Cats, too, if they go outside. (Good luck with that.) If a full blown bath simply isn't an option, most pet stores carry pet bath wipes, which are exactly what they sound like. In addition, regular brushing will reduce dander and shedding.

Also on the washing and cleaning front, wash your bedding in hot water every week. Yes, every week.

"Once a week in hot water kills all the dust mites," Byrne said. Use the hot setting on your dryer, too. Heat is the key to killing dust mites.

Dust mites, which are barely visible to the naked eye, feed on the skin we and our pets shed. According to WebMD, most people shed enough skin in a single day to feed 1 million dust mites.

"Flakes of dead skin in carpeting, beds, and furniture are like snacks for dust mites," according to the popular website.

Even grosser, the feces of dust mites contain enzymes that a serious allergen, inducing reactions like wheezing, sneezing, itchy eyes and a stuffy or runny nose. House dust mites are a major trigger of asthma.

The weather is gorgeous and Mother Nature might be begging you to open your doors and windows and let her in. Resist. Keeping your doors and windows closed keeps allergens like dust and pollen outside.

That goes for cars, too. Use the inside air setting to recirculate air rather than bringing in air from the outside.

Consider showering, or at least rinsing off, before you go to bed. This is an especially good idea if you've worked up a sweat or have spent some time working or playing outside.

"You don't want to breathe that in your airways all night," Byrne said.

Finally, don't just take allergy medication when your symptoms get bad. If you take a non-sedating medication every day, you can head off the nastiness of allergy symptoms before it starts.

"You want to prevent symptoms from flaring up," Byrne said.

Nasal rinses also are a good idea, particularly if you don't want to take a medication every day. Byrne said rinses and medication work great in combination.