NEW YORK --The pollen count outside may not be the only thing that has you reaching for an antihistamine. Allergens can lurk indoors, too, and Consumer Reports has measures you can take to allergy-proof your home.
Reducing allergens in your home is nothing to sneeze at, and stripping the bed is a good place to start. Washing your sheets weekly in hot water and running them through a hot dryer can ease allergy symptoms.
"Hot water reduces pet dander," Consumer Reports' Sarah Goralski said. "Dust mites will either drown or die in the hot air cycle."
Next, cover box springs, mattresses and pillow cases with a tightly woven fabric that's dust mite proof.
"It's also a good idea to control the moisture in your home," Goralski said. "Humidity at 30 to 50 percent helps reduce mites and mold."
The right-size air conditioner helps cut humidity, and dehumidifiers also work but generate heat. So save them for your basement.
Air purifiers can also be useful for removing dust and pollen, and Consumer Reports tested their effectiveness in a sealed chamber.
Top-rated portable air cleaners included the Honeywell HPA 300 for $250.
"If you have a heating or cooling system that is forced-air, you may want to opt for a thicker filter, which we found more effective," Consumer Reports Dave Trezza said. "But it may require professional installation to accept them."
A good choice is the $29 Filrete Healthy Living Ultra Allergen 4 MPR 1550, available online.
And don't forget that your vacuum can kick up dust and aggravate allergies. Consumer Reports found the following vacuums are good for emissions:
--Hoover WindTunnel Max UH30600 for $180
--Kenmore Elite 31150 for $350
Allergy and asthma suffers might want to stay away from bagless vacuums, which can stir up dust.
Consumer Reports says there are other simple remedies. Dust can harbor allergens, so keep your house clean. Also, ban smoking and make sure your home is well-ventilated with exhaust hoods or fans in the kitchen and bathroom.