Apartment Living & Allergens: Improving Indoor Air Quality

apartment livingYou may find yourself moving to and renting an apartment that you found on ApartmentSearch.com that is in a new city where pollen levels are constantly wreaking havoc on your allergies, forcing you to hide inside your apartment (preferably in bed with tissues and allergy medication). Winter is approaching, but hold your sigh of relief because indoor allergens in your apartment may be the prime culprit of your winter sniffles. Keeping cigarette smoke and harsh chemicals out of your home are obvious ways to reduce indoor air pollution, but there are many other types of indoor air pollutants that simple cleaning and maintenance can do away with. Since not all homes are created with fancy air conditioning and filtering systems, here are some ways to eliminate allergens and pollutants and keep your apartment air fresh.


Dust Mites and Other Unwanted Pests

As little as these guys may be, they are far from cute. Dust mites and common household pests need moisture and human dander to survive and their droppings are known to trigger allergic symptoms. That thin layer of dust (aka dead human skin cells) on top of your TV is feeding communities of little dust mites. Some ways to reduce or get rid of dust mites and other pests in your apartment include:

  • Vacuum and dust frequently: if you are especially prone to allergic symptoms, you may want to opt for renting an apartment with no carpeting at all – perhaps seeking out linoleum or wood floors instead. If you’re stuck with carpet, make sure to use special high filtration vacuums that will comb through high pile carpeting.
  • Wash linens and bedding in hot water weekly: If you’re already doing laundry every week, strip your pillows and bed as well. Washing bedding and linens (as well as stuffed animals and rugs) in water 130°F will help to kill off dust mites.
  • Use allergen-impermeable covers: Cover your pillows, mattress, and box spring with something allergen-impermeable so that dust mites won’t be allowed to bunker down and call your lovely sleeping place their home.
  • Cover all food and trash: If you need any more reasons to despise cockroaches, think about the fact that proteins in their droppings are known to trigger common allergy symptoms. Most apartments will provide pest control on a scheduled basis, but if you notice too many of these guys invading your space, be sure to let the apartment staff know right away.



As much as we don’t want to admit that our best friends may be the cause of our sniffles, animal hair, saliva, and dander carry many allergens that can cause symptoms to flare-up. Many of us are not willing to trade our furry pals for a loving, hypoallergenic turtle or lizard friend, but luckily there are ways to reduce the allergens they bring into your apartment:

  • Keep pets confined in certain areas: Studies show people spend most of their time in their bedroom – adults and children alike. To reduce the likelihood of breathing in pet allergens or letting them collect, consider barring them from the bedroom and keeping them in areas that are not heavily carpeted.
  • HEPA Air Cleaners or Purifiers: Some air cleaners are especially great at removing small particles from the air before they settle onto the ground, while others are specially designed to help remove pet hairs and dander. Do some research on which is best for your apartment setting before settling on a high-ticket item.


Air Circulation & Humidity

While some cities are naturally more humid than others, there are many ways to control the humidity within your apartment. Humidity levels consistently over 50% may breed all kinds of molds that offend the sinuses. Tips to improve air circulation and control humidity in your apartment include:

  • Opening windows and turning on exhaust vents: Daily household activities such as cleaning, washing, and even just breathing create water vapor in the home that contributes to high humidity levels. Cooking (especially with gas stoves) introduces many pollutants and vapor into the air, which can concentrate in smaller apartments. When pollen levels are low, try opening windows to let outdoor air circulate throughout your home.
  • Thoroughly clean tubs and showers monthly: Usually, using a mild bleach solution (heavy chemical solutions can also be air pollutants) will help do away with mold in especially humid water areas of the home such as the bathroom and kitchen. Keep these areas as ventilated as possible so as not to breed excessive mold.
  • Regularly replace air filters: Some apartments will have maintenance routinely change out your air filters, while others will give that responsibility to the tenants. Air filters are there to help reduce the pollutants that circulate through your air conditioning system, and if you have carpet or pets in the home, it’s worth changing out more frequently than bi-monthly.
  • Invest in household plants: Plants are natural air filters that not only help to remove pollutants from the air, but also recycle oxygen back in. Most indoor houseplants are easily maintained and plants such as ferns with large leaves can help remove pollutants that are normally found in paints, nail polish, and glue. Beware of overdoing plant life in a small spaces, though, as they may end up contributing to excess humidity that fosters allergens. 

None of these methods alone will completely remove allergens and pollutants from your apartment, but combined they will surely make a difference in the air you breathe. And while you can’t escape the evil that is pollen season you can do a lot to improve the air quality inside of your apartment, making it a safe haven and a home!