From the HVAC system and stand alone, HEPA air purifier to your vacuum cleaner or screens you use in your windows, there are a variety of places filters are trapping pollen, dust, and other allergens in your home. Let's walk through some of these areas and see what cleaning or replacing needs to be done for each filter type.
As the most far reaching home system, central heat/air or an HVAC is common in the modern American home. Unless they are very old, they all should have a filter of some sort. Originally, these filters were meant to keep the blower and motor free of debris, but as time has passed, the filtration of these filters has increased so not only do they protect the HVAC system, but these filters act as your first line of defense against allergens. Unless you have a permanent or semi-permanent filter (like a Newtron), you must replace these filters. Every three months has been, and continues to be, the recommended replacement interval, and 3M remains the most popular brand of replaceable furnace filters.
The next common type of allergen trapping device in the home is the stand-alone air purifier. The most common type is a HEPA air purifier that is rated to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger. This level of filtration covers all types of pollen, but the styles, sizes and filtration that an air purifier employs can vary widely. Inexpensive models like the 3M Filtrete have filters very similar to your HVAC filter and should be replaced every three months. Other brands like Austin Air, IQAir, or Blueair have filters with longer time intervals before replacement. Blueair models typically offer six months of filter life while Austin offers 3-5 years (and IQAir tucked in between). Some models, like the IQAir HealthPro series have an additional coarse dust prefilter that, during this time of year, can be particularly helpful. This filter attaches to the bottom of the unit and filters out visible particles, much like the pollen you see that has collected on the hood of my truck. During the spring when the pollen is the heaviest, this is a great way to extend the life of the other filters in your IQAir while getting rid of more pollen. In all, the majority of air purifiers have replaceable filters. Check the manufacturer instructions for times or get in touch with us, and we can help.
Nearly every home has a vacuum cleaner, and many of these have a HEPA filter. Unless you have a model like a Dyson, which has a washable filter, the HEPA filter in your vacuum should be replaced every year. For washable filters, you will want to wash/rinse them every 3-6 months. Vacuum filters are really only as good as their weakest part. You can have the best HEPA filter in the world, but the vacuum is leaky and allows air to escape as you clean, then you're not getting what you paid for. Prior to purchasing, check that the vacuum not only has a HEPA filter, but also a sealed system, and better still, independent testing actually verifying the filtration claims. In general, replace your HEPA vacuum filter.
Vent or register filters are also popular in many homes. They often target visible debris and dirt. While this doesn't necessarily help you with allergies, they can help to trap the visible pollen. These filters can often simply be rinsed, allowed to air dry, and then replaced.
Last but not least are window filters. These are twist on traditional window screen. Screens are great because they let air in but keep insects out. During the spring, screens also allow ALL of that pollen to come indoors. Window filters are like a screen but only with a layer of filter media in them. They do reduce air flow, but the trade off is they block the vast majority of visible and even many of the microparticles in the air. Best of all, many of these now have replaceable filters, so you no longer have to toss the whole screen after use, simply replace the filter/screen layer.
Regardless of what you're using to help keep your indoor air clean, remember to replace or clean the filters regularly. It can mean the difference between waking up feeling tired, gunky, and congested or refreshed and ready for the day. Not only does it help to keep your home free of allergens and pollen, but this basic maintenance can dramatically extend the life of the appliance or system and save you big bucks down the road.
Author: K. Gilmore
And now for a gratuitous baby pic of my sleeping goddaughter.
Now that that's been covered, time to move on to more pressing matters. From dogwoods and oaks to all manner of tree and bush, plants are shaking off their winter slumber and springing back to life - dumping pollen into the air. Now it also the time when those articles start popping up all over the place, "Worst Allergy Season - EVER!". I do sometimes wonder, has someone with allergies ever went through a spring and thought, "Hhhmmmm.... not bad!" The reality is, this is how spring allergies are going to go.
While this winter was harsh enough to push the start of allergy season further into the year, the very wet nature of this winter is likely to mean high pollen counts. So while the spring allergy season is likely to be a little shorter than recent years, don't expect the trend of increased pollen counts and intensity to take a break.
With all this being said, what can you do in terms of relief?
There are several places to start, but we almost always recommend the bedroom. You'll spend more time here (typically 6-8 hours sleeping) than any other room in the home. Here are some quick hitter solutions to getting a better night's sleep while the pollen flies.
Air - With warmer temperatures, many of us are likely to want to open the window. I know for myself, as soon as the temperature creeps above 60° or so, my windows are open. With allergies, you can either keep the windows closed or try something like a window filter. While these don't offer HEPA filtration (to do so would completely block airflow), they do a great deal of the pollen in the air. The other item that can help clear up your indoor air is a HEPA air purifier. Something like an Austin air purifier is a simple way to remove the allergens. The HEPA/carbon filter lasts years before needing to be replaced, and the controls are simple.
Floors - Your floors are often the final resting place of allergens, including dust, dander, mold spores, and pollen. While you can trap a great deal of this particulate with an air purifier, you're still likely to track allergens in. Regardless of flooring type, you can not only keep them looking good but free of allergens with a high quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. When considering a HEPA vac, keep in mind quality. You often get what you pay for, and lower quality vacuums can leak and simply redistribute allergens instead of actually removing and trapping them.
Clothes - When the pollen counts are high, it's literally sticking to your clothes and then being brought into your home. Many find themselves washing their laundry more frequently. While regular washing can greatly reduce allergens trapped in your clothes, an anti-allergy laundry detergent can denature protein allergens that escape the normal wash cycle. Ecology works produces a plant-based detergent that is gentle of clothes, free of dyes and added fragrance, ultimately making it easier on your skin.
Outdoors - Avoid going out on days when the pollen count is going to be exceptionally high. This is easier said than done for many, but an allergy mask can make a big difference in blocking pollen and other allergens while you're outdoors. Though it can be a little dreary, right after a light rain, pollen levels in the air can dip, so this might not be a bad time to get some of your outdoor activities knocked out.
Medication - Antihistamines are the soup du jour when it comes to combating allergies. While most people take these AFTER they begin to experience symptoms, most allergists actually recommend you being taking them just prior to the onset of the allergy season. These help by tamping down the immune response to pollen - inflammation. There are over the counter as well as more powerful prescription antihistamines available, and a quick stop by your local board certified allergist can give you a better idea of which route to go. Or, you can always try OTC methods first, and if relief is still elusive, consult your doctor for more options.
Do you have any tips or hints you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise stay tuned for another potential Easter Bunny sighting.
Author: K. Gilmore
Let's start at the door. The first person you often see if someone checking IDs. This person also turns away people who aren't dressed appropriately or anyone who seems like they might cause problems once inside. This character is a lot like your HEPA filter. Pollen, dander, dust, and other D-list celebrities (Note to Bruce Campbell - You're in!) aren't allowed to pass, and for people with allergies or asthma, they represent potential troublemakers. The HEPA filter refuses to allow 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger to pass.
A certain group of troublemakers get by the HEPA filter. They dress the part and for them, the HEPA filter makes an exception. This group includes things like smoke, fragrance, chemical vapors, and exhaust emissions. Fortunate for you though, you have a friend on the inside - activated carbon.
Activated carbon is the equivalent of a social butterfly. He's hip. He's cool, and he REALLY enjoys giving out free hugs. While smoke, chemical vapors and others may get by the HEPA filter, activated carbon seeks these characters out, and once he finds them, it's time for a hug! Like long lost pals, molecules bind with activated carbon in a warm, permanent embrace. Because of the molecular composition of activated carbon, substances are naturally attracted to him, but there are still some things that can slip by the embrace of even activated carbon. This is where a blended carbon filter comes in.
Friends of activated carbon can vary, but all help him do his job better. Some friends, like zeolite will attract and soak up chemicals. Others play a slightly different role. Substances like potassium permangante, potassium iodide, magnesium dioxide, or copper oxide act in one of two ways. They either seek out some of the bad apples that slip by activated carbon and bind to them, or they play the role of the "mean girl". Particularly harmful compounds like dioxins and hydrocarbon pollution are literally broken apart into smaller, inert components via the process of oxidation. So in this way, they broaden carbons ability to remove reaction causing compounds.
So, yes, your air purifier is actually like a night club, and some of the best filter out a wide range of bad apples and prevent them from causing you problems. Knowing what triggers your reactions and matching it to the right filter media is the winning combination when it comes to controlling asthma, allergies, and chemical sensitivities.Want to see our top pick for best air purifiers for allergies and asthma or our top MCS and VOC air purifiers? Or click here to see a picture of my dog in a Santa hat (he is NOT amused).
Author: K. Gilmore
There are three areas where AirPura has made changes to provide a better product.
- Filtration - From tried and true to cutting edge, AirPura offers a range of filtration styles to remove particle allergens like pollen, dander, and dust mites as well as odors, smoke and chemical vapors. A HEPA filter is standard in most models, as is a carbon filter and large particle prefilter. Some models integrate UV light while others integrate AirPura's TitanClean technology for some of the most comprehensive filtration available. Regardless of which AirPura you choose, each filter type can be independently changed. So unlike some combination filters that result in one of the combined filter medias wearing out before the other, each type of filter in the AirPura can be changed exactly when it needs to be.
- Components - For some of the most sensitive individuals, the solution to air quality problems can actually create more problems. From plastics that off-gas and UV bulbs that emit ozone to compounds in the carbon and rubber/foam/plastics found throughout the machine, many modern air purifiers can emit harmful byproducts that can aggravate conditions for those coping with chemical sensitivities or severe respiratory problems. AirPura takes a different approach by greatly limiting the use of adhesives, rubber, foam and plastics. This is why you will notice felt gaskets around the filter assembly, a steel shell with powder coat finish, a coconut shell based activated carbon (one of the most MCS friendly carbon bases available), UV bulbs that are CARB compliant (meeting California's stringent UV standards and exceed EPA standards), and electrical components that rest outside of the flow of cleaned air through the machine. Particularly for anyone who has dealt with problems caused by cheap air purifiers, these small details add up to a big difference.
- Air Flow - Air and water share some similar characteristics, and in this case, kinks or bends in the flow can dramatically reduce coverage. The more sharp bends air has to negotiate inside the air purifier, the less efficiently it flows through the machine and the more energy it uses. Things like 90° angles inside the machine can dramatically reduce not only airflow but also coverage. AirPura air purifiers have a very streamlined internal flow with no sharp bends. This is why it has the highest CFM of any residential air purifier, 560. This is also why an AirPura can cover up to 700 sq. ft. at a rate of 6 full air exchanges per hour. Thanks to the internal design and a powerful motor, you get more coverage for your buck with an AirPura.
- Noise - On the lowest fan speed, each AirPura air purifier registers about 28 decibels at six feet away. This makes them some of the quietest air purifiers on the market. This also means you can simply turn the fan down at night and make the bedroom more accommodating for light sleepers.
Currently, the three models we offer are the base model, the AirPura HEPA R600, which provides excellent three stage filtration suitable for most people dealing with allergies, asthma or COPD; the carbon-rich AirPura C600, which employs a thick, 26 lb carbon filter ideal for chemical abatement, removing high levels of smoke, odors, vapors; and, the most comprehensive, the AirPura HEPA P600, which uses five-stage filtration to tackle the widest range of allergens, pollutants, pathogens, and irritants of all AirPura models. Each model offers a unique solution for general or specific air quality problems.
If you want to learn more about what AirPura has to offer you, visit our AirPura page or view our entire line of high quality HEPA air purifiers.
First and foremost, you should try to limit your exposure. For many outdoor tasks this can mean squeezing them into different parts of the day when pollen levels and air quality is better. Typically, mornings are good since dew can help to keep pollen from becoming airborne, winds are generally lighter, and overall air quality is at its best. However, if you're outdoors, remember a few things. A quality allergy mask can be handy to have. Most are lightweight; many are washable; and all can help to prevent you from breathing in pollen while you're outdoors. When outdoors, wear something that you plan on taking off or changing when you go indoors. This means that when you're done, remove your shoes, jacket, hat, etc. at the door and set them aside. Just because there is pollen outside doesn't mean you should have to deal with it indoors as well. Once inside, wash up! If you're doing a more strenuous outdoor activity, you may not want to wear a mask, but if this is the case, flush your sinuses when you’re finished. This can rinse away any allergens trapped in your nose or nasal passages and remove the source of the irritation.
Moving indoors, remember to vacuum! Just one walk to the mailbox outside is enough for me to leave greenish-yellow tracks on the rug at my front door. Vacuuming and dusting with sealed system, HEPA vacuum cleaner can keep spring pollen from started at your front door and being dispersed throughout your home. If you were considering a Miele HEPA vacuum, now might be a good time to choose one. In addition to Free Express Delivery (all but one model delivers in 1 or 2 business days), when you buy now you can get a year's worth of vacuum bags for free! The Miele filterbag trap all visible particles and features 9-ply filtration to remove large allergens while the certified HEPA filter removes all of the rest from not only your floors but also the air in your home.
Lastly, using a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom and can make all the difference in how well you sleep. We have long been proponents of creating a space in your home that is allergy friendly, and since most people spend more time in the bedroom than any other room, it is the best place to start! A high quality air purifier can filter out and trap common allergens like dust mites, dander, dust, and yes, pollen. Generally, it is best to set the air purifier on a low or medium setting and let it quietly do its work through the day and night.
While these things cannot cure your allergies, combined, they can go a very long ways toward reducing your exposure and limiting symptoms during this trying part of the year. To help you feel better and breathe easier, not only are we offering the free filterbags with each Miele vacuum, but we're also going to give away a Vornado HEPA Air Purifier! Sleek and powerful, the AC500 uses two HEPA filters and two activated carbon prefilters to remove large visible particles as well as pollen, dust and common household allergens. With four fan speeds, digital controls, replacement indicators and a five year warranty, this HEPA air purifier is effective, simply to operate and bound to provide years of allergy relief.
Using Rafflecopter, we're offering you several ways to enter, retweet, share on Facebook, etc. It's up to you how many chances you'd like to win, but sharing is caring! (And it's also a good way to increase your chances of winning!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway Author: KevvyG
People dealing with allergies and asthma have long known the benefits of improved indoor air quality, and whether it is from Miele testing or independent test results, Miele vacs remove more pollutants and particles than any other brand around.
Time is running out, but you still have through this weekend to purchase a new Miele HEPA vacuum cleaner and receive not only FREE EXPRESS DELIVERY on every model but also a FREE HEPA FILTER, up to a $49.95 value.
Opt for a healthier home and put $50 worth of free product in your pocket, shop Miele vacuum cleaners.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
Whether you are dealing with allergies, asthma, or COPD or you are simply looking for a luxury home appliance that is not only effective but also durable and stylish, Miele vacuums can help. All feature powerful suction, durable construction, stylish design and are incredibly versatile. From cleaning delicate flooring or high traffic carpet and dusting to cleaning drapes, detailing your car (or computer) or keeping hard-to-reach areas clean, Miele vacuums offer a range of features, attachments and prices to fit your needs and your budget.
Unlike other vacuums that use cheap materials, Miele vacs are manufactured in Germany and extensively tested. Their performance and longevity are two reason why Miele vacuums have won past and current acclaim from Consumers Digest, J.D. Power, Good Housekeeping, and the Housewares Design Awards as well as Architectural Digest, SHAPE, and Real Simple magazines. And independent testing has shown that Miele outperforms any other vacuum when it comes to improving air quality and filtering out microparticles like pet dander, pollen, dust mite allergen, and dust.
So, if you're considering improving your home but also improving your health, you can't go wrong with a Miele. The free HEPA filter promotion means that if you're considering a model without it, you'll now get one. You can turn a Miele S6, like the Onyx from a great vacuum to one that features all of the components of Miele's world class, AirClean filtration system - 9 ply Filterbag, HEPA Filter, Pre-motor Filter, and sealed system. For models like the premium Miele UniQ the free filters means you won't have to worry about purchasing a new filter until 2016.
To Shop All Miele Vacuums. And as always, if you have any questions, give us a call, chat or submit an FAQ!
Author: K. Gilmore
In many circles Miele vacuums are known simply as a luxury appliance. Styling, performance and price place many of their models at the top of the luxury vacuum list. For us, Miele is an effective, durable home cleaning machine, and recently, J.D. Power and Associates recognized both Miele canister and uprights as ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction".
Beyond the accolades, independently tested HEPA filtration, an array of features and tools, and quality construction combine to deliver the type of clean that not only leaves your home looking better but actually healthier too. From dirt, soil, and pet hair to allergens like dander, pollen and mold spores, these vacuums are designed to remove not only the mess you can see but also the microparticles that can pollute your indoor environment. From styling and ease of use to performance and durability, a Miele can be a great fit in any home.
Now, in addition to free express delivery, you can save up $49.95 in the form of a free filter. Each free filter will be included in the box with your purchase. One FREE HEPA filter per vacuum. Take advantage of this rare offer from Miele before time runs out!
For years we have recommended that allergy, asthma and MCS sufferers invest in a quality HEPA vacuum cleaner that features a sealed system. The reason was because only this type of vacuum can truly remove allergens and the ultra fine particles in the air that can trigger asthma attacks or allergic reactions. Researchers in Australia recently published findings confirming what we have long recommended.
In testing 21 different types of vacuum cleaners, researchers concluded that the models tested allowed between 40,000 and 1.2 billion particles to pass completely through the vacuum. The size of the particles in this range was .5 to 20 microns, which means that in a typical household it could include common allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust.
Some of the models tested include Dyson, Hoover, iRobot, and Sanyo. The ages of the vacuums tested also ranged from 6 months to 22 years old.
An article from WebMD highlighted this study, pointing out other practices and products we have recommended for allergy sufferers, including the use of HEPA filters, microfiber or electrostatic dust cloths and the removal of carpet.
While the testing did not cover a comprehensive sampling of models, there are a few important take aways. First, vacuuming with a traditional vacuum cleaner that lacks a sealed system or HEPA filter will NOT help to remove allergens and fine particles. Secondly, using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter can improve indoor air quality while cleaning your floors. Lastly, and most importantly, this study highlights the link between vacuuming and its relationship to indoor air quality in the home.
To read the Study's Abstract
Since pet dander can be as small as just a few microns, it can easily become airborne and attach to household items, particularly clothing and upholstered furniture. So while your buddy, Phil, may be bringing the cheese dip for the Superbowl party, he's likely also carrying a healthy dose of cat dander from his three shorthaired Persians.
But don't exclude Phil just because he's a cat owner (or a Patriots fan). There are a couple quick and easy ways to ensure that the cat dander that came with him doesn't make you miserable for the next week.
By vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum cleaner, you can not only clean up the nacho crumbs left on the sofa but also pet dander and other allergens that guests can commonly bring inside your home. When vacuuming to improve your health (not just appearances) always opt for a vac that has a sealed system and true HEPA filter. Vacuums that lack these features often only redistribute allergens throughout your home.
For throws and decorative pillows, you can simply toss these in the dryer, on high heat, for 15 minutes to kill and remove most allergens that may have settled on them.
For any surface that is prone to collecting allergens from visitors, another convenient solution is an anti-allergen spray. These come in a few varieties but all do the same thing, denature or oxidize protein allergens.
So even after a house full of guests, these simple things can help remove hidden allergens that have made their way into your home.