By Lin Parkin
October 22, 2013
I don't know about your neck of the woods, but in Ontario autumn came in like a lamb, with summer-like temperatures through to the begining of October. It was a beautiful thing.
But will it go out like a lion?
There are whispers of potential snowfall this weekend here in London, Ontario which is an unfortunate but enviable forecast. Why is it that despite the fact that winter comes each year, bringing with it blustery winds and snow; we always seem to be surprised by its arrival?
We are a hearty breed though; like many communities throughout North America the kids are no strangers to walking around on Halloween night with winter coats stuffed under their costumes, while the parents of all the little ghouls and goblins clutch warm beverages as they make their rounds. And as the days grow colder we close up our homes, shutting the windows and doors to the brisk air outside; effectively locking out some allergens while locking others in.
Much like having a sinus cold, suffering from allergies can be detrimental to the sound of one's voice. Although with allergies it hangs around causing the voice to sound nasally, raspy and hoarse for weeks and weeks. By trapping air inside the house during the autumn and winter months indoor allergies can significantly worsen.
Keeping the voice healthy is the number one priority for anyone who uses their voice for a living. Join VOX Daily as we put together 7 tips on reducing household allergens in your home.
1. Consider having your air ducts cleaned
Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence to suggest that cleaning your air ducts will improve allergy symptoms, there are many anecdotal experiences from supporters that trust in its merits. It stands to reason that clean air ducts equals clean, healthy air flowing through the home. So, therefore, improving the air quality should reduce allergy symptoms, all the while making heating and cooling systems more efficient. Call a HAVAC professional to evaluate whether or not it is necessary. If there is only a small amount of dust in the ducts, cleaning them will be a waste of time and resources. However, if mold is present or there is a significant amount of dust it may help reduce household allergens.
2. Prevent duct contamination in the first place
Committing to a good preventive maintenance program is essential to minimize duct contamination and can keep the air healthy in your home before ever having to resort to cleaning the ducts. Change your duct filters once a month; if they're clogged then change the filters more often. Remove dust from your house by vacuuming your home regularly but use a high efficiency vacuum with a HEPA cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum can accommodate as vacuuming can actually increase the amount of dust in the air, both during and after vacuuming, as well as in your ducts.
3. Reduce household moisture
Moisture from boiling water on the stove, hot showers, and moisture in the ceiling or carpets can cause mold in the home and is a likely culprit for mold in the air ducts. Make sure you use your exhaust fans and/or open a window to allow steam to escape. If you have to regularly spot clean your carpets don't leave the carpet to air dry. Have a shop vac (wet/dry vacuum) on hand to suck up the leftover water so the carpet won't harbor mold or, better yet, get rid of all wall to wall carpeting in your living space.
4. Monitor the temperature of your home
Hot, humid houses are a breeding ground for dust mites and mold. Keep the relative humidity in your home no higher than 50 percent. This is much easier to do in the winter time as houses are warmed with dry heat. Try to aim for a household temperature of around 70 F (21 C). Having your house warmer may prompt you to use a humidifier which will only produce more allergens in your home by adding to its moisture. In the summer months consider using a dehumidifier, if necessary, and clean it once a month.
5. Use a damp cloth when dusting
When dusting your home don't use a feather duster or a dry cloth. Use a damp cloth instead to capture the dust rather than spreading it around and thoroughly rinse it out after each use. Throw it in the washing machine every once and awhile too. Wipe down your vinyl or vertical curtains with a damp cloth or select machine washable curtains for your home and get into the habit of washing them every few months. Choose furnishings that you can wipe down easily with a damp cloth such as leather, wood, metal or plastic.
6. Keep moisture and dust out of your work area
Whether you work in your home or at an office, keep your work area clean and dust free. Wipe your computer screen and all work surfaces with a damp cloth. Remove sources of moisture in your office such as coffee makers, tea kettles, or humidifiers. This is especially important for home recording studios as many will have carpeting on all surfaces of the room to absorb sound. When installing carpeting for your recording studio, especially with used carpeting, make sure it is clean and mold-free. The last thing you need to do is surround yourself with nasal plugging, runny nose causing, sneeze eliciting carpet!
7. Limit plants and pets
Sometimes the things that help make a house a home can cause the worst allergy symptoms. The surface of the soil from indoor plants can harbor mold. If you don't want to find a new home for your plants cover the top of the soil with gravel which will let water penetrate to the roots but prevent mold spores from becoming airborne. With pets, even if you are not allergic to their dander, they can become sources for mold and dust to get tracked into the house. Try to brush your pets outside if possible. Make sure they are thoroughly dry when coming in from the rain. Clean the litter box daily. While many of us consider our pets to be a part of the family that doesn't mean they need to sleep with us. Make bedrooms off limits to your pets and, if you have a pet bed or blanket, wash it once a month.
Do you have any suggestions for reducing household allergens?
I hope these tips are of some help to you this coming winter. If you start preparing now hopefully you'll reduce your allergies and retain the sound of your voice all winter long.
Well, until the first wicked cold virus comes along of the season.
But that's for another post.
All the best.
©iStockphoto.com/wickedpixRelated Topics: Allergens, Home Recording Studios, Household Allergies, Reduce Allergies, Vocal Health