For those that suffer from hay fever, spring and summer can bring days of misery as pollen levels become high.
But with allergy awareness week taking place this week, Allergy UK has teamed up with cleaning company Vax to produce nine top tips to keep your house clean and ensure a sneeze-free Spring.
1) Nip build-up in the bud
The best way to combat allergens in the home is to clean regularly. For some people, cleaning itself can make you feel poorly, disturbing the dust in our homes. This can be off-putting, but if it is ignored, will only get worse.
2) Keep windows closed at peak times for pollen
Opening windows is good for our homes, but at the wrong times can expose us to pollen. As well as observing the pollen count each day of the year, be mindful of how it changes from morning to night.
Keep windows and entrances closed as much as possible between the peak pollen times of 8 - 10am and 5 - 7 pm to shut out irritants.
3) Fight the mites
Dust mites love our home almost as much as we do, flourishing in warm, humid rooms like the bedroom and kitchen. Just one tiny mite will produce up to 2,000 particles of waste during its 10 week life cycle if it is left alone, causing havoc to sufferers of asthma and rhinitis.
To reduce their numbers, wash fabrics on a high heat, replace old linens and vacuum regularly.
4) Deal with the damp
Excess moisture can occur in a home for many reasons, including leaky pipes, badly sealed windows and poor ventilation. As well as having a negative effect on the immune system overall, damp is bad for people suffering from asthma and allergies, so try to fix those issues as soon as you can.
5) Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
Vacuum cleaners with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters trap in allergens. They are also particularly good at picking up dust mite waste, pollen and smoke. Imagine the dirt is playing hide and seek with you, where would no one think to look?
6) Wash the carpets
Allergens and dirt live deep in the fibres of your carpet even after vacuuming. Some powerful cleaners will help to remove dirt hidden in your carpet and will also help reduce drying times too.
It’s not just the carpets that hide allergens, your own hair is a magnet to pollen, so wash it before bed to avoid breathing it in your sleep.
7) Go natural with products
Strong cleaning products can cause issues for people who suffer from skin sensitivity. Thankfully there are plenty of softer alternatives - many of which you can find in your cupboards at home.
One quarter of a cup of white wine vinegar will function as an air freshener for example. Lemon juice can be mixed with water to wash windows, or mixed with salt for scrubbing grills, and steaming will kill 99.9% of bacteria in a natural way.
8) Pet problems
We love our pets but when it comes to allergies, they do not make life any easier. Rolling in grass and running through fields brings dogs in contact with lots of pollen, so keep them on a lead more during pollen season.
Also, be sure to bathe them regularly and keep an eye on whether they are showing signs of suffering from hay fever too.
9) Garden with care
Spring is a good time to stop and smell the roses - and why not? They’re low in pollen! When tending to your garden, choose flowers that are insect-pollinated such as hydrangeas.
Grass pollen is the most common trigger of hay fever, so you think about buying artificial grass or ask someone without allergies to mow the lawn for you.