Can't get rid of those terrible allergies? As it turns out, the pesky culprit triggering the stuffy nose and all of that sneezing might just be hiding in your home.
Robin Wilson, TODAY lifestyle expert, stopped by Studio 1A to uncover a few surprising allergy hot spots and offer tips on how to keep your family happy and healthy this spring.
These are some of the worst offenders when it comes to catching dust and setting off allergies. Swap heavy curtains for washable side panels made of linen and cotton, or opt for blinds that can be easily cleaned. It's also important to wipe window frames and glass surfaces regularly to prevent the growth of mold and mildew — both of which can trigger upper respiratory symptoms if you have allergies or asthma.
2. Decorative pillows
Many people forget to clean their decorative pillows, but they are often covered with pollen, dirt, dust and pet dander. Be sure to keep shoes off the living room couch, and don't let your pets lounge on the pillows. To make your life easier, Wilson recommends looking for machine washable covers. She suggests following this simple rule: Wash the outer covers every three weeks, wash the pillows every three months and replace the pillows every three years.
3. Shag rug
This carpeting looks great in most living rooms, but it can also be one of the biggest culprits for trapping dust in your home. It's imperative that you regularly vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove the particles from the shag rug's fibers. Wilson also suggests swapping out the area rug in the entryway for a nylon or wool doormat. These are thinner, easier to clean, and, in high traffic areas of the home, can act like a big filter that traps dirt particles and keeps them in place until you vacuum.
4. Bookshelf with books
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to remove everything from the bookshelf and do some major dusting. Make sure to pull everything away from the wall so that you can reach behind the bookcase. Wilson suggests using a microfiber cloth to clean books individually. She adds that it's important to also clean the tops of pages and inside the covers to remove built-up debris.
These allergen hot spots are found in almost every home in America, and they're great at collecting dust and dust mites. Clean them with a handheld vacuum, or go a step further and buy a lampshade cover. These are widely available and are made of extremely elastic material that slips over the existing lampshade. The best part: They're machine washable!
6. Paraffin wax candles
These candles, especially the scented ones, are often major triggers of allergies. Switch to soy candles that burn without releasing toxins or pollutants into the air.
Springtime flowers are lovely to keep around the home, but they can also wreak havoc on allergies. Swap them out for allergy-friendly houseplants like the Dracaena, a beautiful and versatile shrub with shiny deep-green leaves capable of trapping allergens. For a colorful alternative, try a peace lily. This flowering plant is one of the most effective removers of airborne chemicals like ammonia. You'll need to wipe the leaves down once a week with a damp cloth, but Wilson says it's a much better alternative to fragrant flowers with pollen. A plant that helps you clean? Who knew!
Laptops and other electronic devices catch dust and lead to allergy flare-ups that can easily be prevented. Consider using a gel or rubber case that you can remove and wipe down easily. You can also buy anti-dust port plugs for your laptop so that you don't damage the computer.
9. Stuffed animals
Wilson suggests sending those animals "on vacation" inside your freezer to kill dust mites. When they are not being used, keep toys and stuffed animals away in a toy box or a washable hamper. She also notes that you can now buy stuffed animals made of allergy-friendly materials.