Remodeling for Allergy Sufferers

January is the time of year that many people start considering a remodeling project. If you are an allergy sufferer, there are a few things you should consider while your remodeling project is still in the planning stages. Remodeling can be a great idea, if it means putting in more allergy-friendly surfaces (hard floors, smooth furniture). But, remodeling can also hold unique challenges for allergy sufferers. Here are some tips on what to expect and how to plan ahead, to keep your remodeling project from turning into an allergy nightmare.

Problems ahead

There are a variety of problems an allergy sufferer can face with remodeling.

  • Any type of construction naturally creates a lot of particulate matter dust, dirt, debris, fine particles. These fine airborne particles can contain allergens, and they can also be irritating to lungs and nasal passages.
  • Many varnishes, paints, and waxes contain VOC's, which aggravate allergy symptoms and can cause a serious reaction in someone who is chemically sensitive.
  • A lot of other building materials also contain VOC's and other irritating chemicals. Any new material like wallpaper, vinyl, carpeting, treated wood, etc, may release chemical off-gassing for a few days.

Planning for particles

Don't despair allergy sufferers can remodel. However, it's important to plan ahead, and be aware of ways to manage the new pollutants remodeling can bring into the home. Here are few tips for minimizing irritants.

  • First off, plan carefully and research what kind of materials you will be using. Ask questions about products and materials you bring into your home. Try to choose varnishes, paints, wallpapers, vinyl, carpeting, etc, with low or minimal VOC content and offgassing.
  • Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Use a high-quality fan and open the windows while using any products which contain VOC's.
  • Leave the house when indoor irritants are at their highest, such as when carpet is being laid or the hard floors are being varnished.
  • For do-it-yourselfers, wear high-quality HEPA masks while doing hands-on construction activities. This means projects like tearing down wallpaper or installing insulation: anything which creates a lot of particles and excess dust.
  • If you have indoor pets, keep them out of the work areas. Pets can collect dust and allergens in their coats, and then spread these allergy-causing particles all over the house.
  • Hang plastic sheeting over the doorways in rooms where work is being done. Don't take the plastic down until the job is done and when you do, ball it up and push it out through a window. Don't carry it through your home, as this can leave a cloud of allergy-causing dust behind.

The payoff

Remodeling can be a lot of hassle, especially for allergy sufferers but in the long run, it just might be what you need to keep your allergies under control. Changing the environment in your home to be more allergy-friendly can make a great difference in alleviating allergy symptoms for good. So, if you're remodeling to allergy-proof your home, think of it as an investment.
Here's what we recommend:

  • It's a good idea to replace carpeting with hardwood, tile, or vinyl any smooth flooring. It's easier to keep hard floors spotlessly clean, and dust mites and other allergens have nowhere to hide.
  • Take the opportunity to get rid of plush and upholstered furniture, another haven for allergens of all kinds. Replace it with wood, leather or metal furniture, which is easy to clean.

For more information on allergy-proofing your home, read our article on The 10 Steps to Allergen Avoidance.


Houseplants and Mold

Winter is a great time for tending houseplants, which are a way to bring a little piece of life and warmth into your home while it's still cold and dead outside. But for a mold allergy sufferer, houseplants can add an extra complication to the fight against mold spores. By themselves, houseplants generally will not cause excessive mold exposure, but if you're allergic to mold spores, you may want to take steps to control any possible mold growth.

Houseplants attract mold because they offer the ideal conditions that mold needs to thrive: an organic food source and lots of moisture. Mold does well in areas which have high temperatures, high humidity, and little or no light. This basically describes the conditions surrounding a houseplant, especially an over-watered one.

Obviously, the most effective way to avoid mold on houseplants is to simply get rid of them. But for those who love houseplants, or whose mold allergy is not severe enough to warrant getting rid of your plants altogether, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk of mold growth in your houseplants.

  • Keep the soil a little on the dry side. Water with care and only as needed.
  • Don't let water accumulate in the houseplant's pot or the tray beneath.
  • Give plants more light by putting them in the sunniest windows.
  • Consistently remove any dead leaves; don't allow dying foliage to build up.
  • Monitor indoor humidity using a hygrometer to ensure that the general environment is not overly moist.

The bright side is that while houseplants can encourage mold growth, they also improve indoor air quality in other ways. Indoor pollution like VOC's and other toxins can be broken down and minimized by houseplants, improving indoor air quality. So don't be too quick to trade in your houseplants if you can keep them from succumbing to mold, they will help improve the quality of your air overall, making it cleaner and more breathable.

The information provided in this newsletter does not constitute medical advice and is for your general information only.  For information regarding specific questions, concerns, or conditions, please consult a licensed physician.


In This Issue:

1. Remodeling for Allergy Sufferers: Surviving the cloud of dust
2. What's New at achoo! Blog successful so far, book giveaway drawing near
3. Featured Products: Tons of new products for you to try
4. Houseplants and Mold Allergy: Keeping your indoor garden from turning into an indoor mold farm
5. New Year's Resolutions For Allergy Sufferers: 3 Ways to Stay Allergy-Free in 2006

Can't see the newsletter?  If you're having trouble viewing the newsletter in your email client, it's also available on the web.

What's New at achoo!

Happy New Year from all of us at achoo! ALLERGY.  We can't wait for 2006! 

If you haven't done so yet, we hope you'll take the opportunity to visit our newest resources for allergy sufferers.  Achoo! The Blog has been live for almost a month now! Nearly six hundred people signed up to win a free copy of My House is Killing Me, the book giveaway we sponsored to kick off the blog.  We haven't announced the winners yet, so stay tuned.  The Blog has lots of great info for allergy and asthma sufferers, with frequent links, news stories, and allergy Q & A.  Visit us soon at

We've added quite a few new products in the last month as well.  There are too many to list here, but we've decided to showcase our favorites: a fantastic new pillow, and a group of products to make your home cleaner and your cleaning days easier. 

Featured Products

$54 - $67

KB 100% Cotton Pillow

What could be more pure and natural than 100% cotton?  These pillows are carefully handmade the old-fashioned way, with unbleached, un-dyed fabric and plump natural fibers.  They are all cotton, even the thread!  And, they are pre-washed in baking soda solution to remove any additional chemical odors.  Soft yet supportive, a cotton pillow offers just the right amount of firmness.  We highly recommend them for allergy and chemical sensitivity sufferers. 

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Carpet Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner

This unbelievable cleaner will remove the toughest spots and stains on your carpet.  You can easily clean even the most difficult stains, leaving your carpet looking nice and new again. The cleaner is odorless, non-toxic, non-flammable, and safe, and it comes in a convenient spray bottle.

Read more  



Wonder Sponge


Gonzo Wonder Sponge

This revolutionary sponge can be used dry to clean any surface without water. It effortlessly removes soot, dust and dirt from just about any surface you can think of - lampshades, wallpaper, upholstery, nooks, blinds, woodwork, light fixtures, etc. It's environmentally safe and made with all natural materials.  A great way to trap and remove dust, dirt, and allergens from your home, making it a healthier place to be.

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Pet Hair Lifter Sponge


Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter

Plagued by pet hair? Pick up one of these easy pet hair lifters and remove pet hair easily.  Just wipe along any surface to effortlessly remove pet hair, which will roll up in a ball for easy disposal.  It works without water or chemicals, leaving no residue.  And, you can use it again and again.  Simply wash with soap and water and allow to dry before re-use.  Environmentally safe, non-toxic, and all-natural.

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Dust Control Sponge


Gonzo Dust Control Sponge

This Dust Control Sponge is made especially for allergy sufferers.  It easily eliminates dust and dirt without water. Use it on just about any dry surface -- books, furniture, upholstery, lampshades, blinds, and more.  You can use it over and over, too. Simply wash with soap and water, then allow to dry before next use. A great tool for making house cleaning easier and aiding you in the war against dust.


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Basement Aand Garage Odor Eliminator


Basement and Garage Odor Remover

With this Basement and Garage Odor Remover, you can keep musty areas smelling fresh without the use of perfumes or irritating chemicals.  It uses non-toxic, environmentally safe volcanic minerals to draw odors out of the air, trapping them for good. Can be used to eliminate odors from a variety of sources: pets, mold and mildew, trash, lawn mowers, fireplaces and chimneys, cigarettes, and other basement and garage odors.

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3 New Year's Resolutions for Allergy Sufferers

1. I resolve to... Keep Fluffy out of the bedroom!

This year, make sure that your bedroom remains an oasis of cleanliness and health! If you have an indoor pet, keep them out of the bedroom. Not only do dogs and cats shed allergenic dander, their coats can also contain dust, dirt, pollen, and other allergens from around the house or outside. 

2. I resolve to... Wash all my bedding twice monthly in hot water, and dry on high!

Frequently washing bedding is key in keeping your bed free of dust mites. Controlling dust mites will alleviate congestion and night coughing, allowing you to get a better night's rest.

3. I resolve to... Clean the house frequently!

It may be an unglamorous solution to allergies, but it works.  Dust and clean frequently, using dust-trapping cloths and a HEPA filtered vacuum if possible, to keep your home free of dust and allergens.



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