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Environmental Allergen Controls

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters & Vacuum Cleaners

These special filters are best for people with allergies because they capture hair, dander, pollen, dust, and other allergens. They are effective at picking up particles as small as .03 microns. HEPA filters are available in air purifiers and vacuum cleaners. Allergens, pet hair, and dirt embed deeper into carpets than traditional vacuum cleaners can reach, but vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters capture 99.9% of allergens. I highly recommend that vacuums without the HEPA feature be replaced for people with allergies or asthma. When vacuuming, make sure to clean all carpets, throw rugs, upholstered furniture, curtains, throw pillows, and books because they harbor dust mites and other allergens. I also recommend that HEPA air purifiers be run in the bedroom at night to help provide a more peaceful sleeping environment free of allergens.


When purchasing a HEPA air purifier or vacuum cleaner, be sure to investigate replacement filter costs. Replacement filter costs can be expensive, so look for ones without disposable filters. Some purifiers have the feature of filters that never need to be replaced, but only washed two to four times a year. Purchasing purifiers with this feature can reduce the expense and increase the convenience of owning a HEPA air purifier. HEPA filters with old or dirty filters serve no purpose, so make sure you clean or replace filters on a routine schedule!

Bed Encasings

One of the most common allergens is dust mites. If you are allergic to dust mites, encasings are essential because dust mites are found by the millions in mattresses, box springs, pillows, and comforters. Dust mites feed off of dead human skin cells, so beds are perfect places for them to live, grow, and reproduce. Mite-proof encasings are complete barriers to them. Without encasings, you will directly breathe in the allergens when they are kicked up from your bedding whenever you step on, shake, or bounce the mattress. Any movement in your sleep can also kick up dust mites, causing nighttime allergy symptoms. Encasings are also great for keeping out other allergens such as pollen or pet dander from your bed.

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“Hypo-allergenic” pillows still require encasings. This phrase simply means that the material inside the pillow is a less suitable living environment for dust mites, therefore has less of a chance of causing an allergic reaction. However, dust mites can still be found in these pillows. Softer and more durable fabrics for the encasings are now being sold, which eliminates any problems of discomfort with the encasings. Now most encasings are so comfortable and cool that you don’t even realize you’re sleeping on one. Essentially, there is no reason not to use this environmental control!


is a simple way to get rid of allergens. Wash the sheets, blankets, and mattress pads every 10-14 days in hot 131 degree water. The hot water kills microscopic mites, removing the allergen. High quality blankets can take 50 or more washings and still feel and look like new, without showing any shrinkage, pilling, or matting of the material. If you do not like to wash your comforter, you can encase it just like you would with a pillow or mattress. Also, consider laundry additives, like de-mite, which eliminate dust mites even in cold water. Couches, upholstered chairs, curtains, pillows, and carpets also harbor dust mites, so it is important to vacuum them periodically with a HEPA filter system. Keep in mind that every home has dust mites, but allergen levels can be reduced with preventative products and successful cleaning. 

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Vent filters

are inexpensive filtering kits that cover the incoming air vent. They are not as effective as a true HEPA air purifier, but they are a great start! Vent filters minimize airborne allergens entering the bedroom and other areas of the house via the ductwork. I highly recommended that vent filters be used in addition to a HEPA air purifier. It is especially important that filters cover the vents in the bedroom of the family member with allergies or asthma.

Car Tips

Your car is a place that you spend a lot of time in, more than you may realize. For this reason, it is important to keep your car clean because it is an unexpected place to have high allergen levels that can cause unpleasant allergy symptoms. Here are some tips to keeping your car allergen-free:

  • Keep the carpet clean and dry by using plastic or rubber floor mats.
  • If something smells unpleasant, find the source. Any leftover food or liquid spills can lead to mold growth.
  • If there is mold present, spray the carpets with mold-killing cleaners.
  • Make sure weather stripping is intact and there are no leaks to allow water or allergens to enter the car.
  • Vacuum upholstered seats and floors because they can harbor dust mites and other allergens. If possible, replace upholstered seats with leather.
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  • Keep the windows closed and use the air conditioning on the re-circulating cycle.
  • Do not use air fresheners because they contain chemicals that can irritate nasal membranes.
  • After purchasing a new car, leave the windows rolled down for two days to eliminate the "new car smell." Chemicals from the new car can create irritating fumes. Clean the car after the smell has been eliminated.
  • Wipe the dashboard with a wet cloth frequently to eliminate dust.
  • When transporting pets, keep them in their cages to reduce the spread of pet allergens.