How to Improve Indoor Air Quality With Environmental Allergies

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board

Air quality can have a major impact on the way you feel. Environmental allergies can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and problems breathing. Improving indoor air quality can play a large role in reducing allergen exposure and allergy symptoms.1,2

Creating better air quality in your home does not have to be hard. It just takes time and dedication.1,2

What affects indoor air quality?

There are many allergens and other irritating substances in your home that may trigger allergy symptoms. These include:1,2

  • Dust mites
  • Pets
  • Cockroaches
  • Mold
  • Smoke
  • Strong scents and chemicals
  • Outdoor pollens that you bring indoors

Steps to control indoor allergens

Good cleaning techniques in many different areas of your home can reduce the presence of many indoor allergens. Common suggestions include:1-3

  • Changing air filters more often
  • Keeping windows closed
  • Wet or damp mopping floors instead of only sweeping or vacuuming
  • Keeping surfaces clean
  • Leaving pets outside or do not have pets
  • Buying allergy-friendly bedding
  • Controlling insects
  • Cleaning areas with mold or avoid mold if this is not possible

Cleaning indoor air

There are several steps you can take to clean the air inside your home or office.

Installing air filters can help clear the air of many airborne allergens. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are available for air purifiers, air conditioning systems, vacuums, vent filters and more. These help eliminate airborne allergen particles. Filters must be cleaned or changed regularly.2,3

You also can reduce the outdoor allergens you bring into your home by changing your clothes and shoes as soon as you come indoors.1-3

Keep your windows closed

Keep the windows closed and air conditioning on at home and in the car. This will keep the pollen out and the humidity low. Experts recommend keeping indoor humidity below 50 percent. This will help reduce the growth of indoor mold and dust mites.1,2

Keep surfaces clean

Dust and dust mites are found in a variety of household items, including:1-4

  • Bedding
  • Mattresses
  • Pillows
  • Carpets
  • Stuffed toys
  • Upholstered furniture

Regular dusting and vacuuming will help to keep your surfaces clean and control dust mites. Eliminate carpet, rugs, and drapes wherever possible, especially in bedrooms.1-4

Mopping will help pick up even more dust and allergens than vacuuming.1-4

Protect your bed

There are many types of allergy-friendly bedding. This can help people with dust mite allergies. You can buy special zippered protectors to encase your mattress, box spring, and pillows. These reduce allergy symptoms by sealing in and protecting you from dust mites.2,4,5

Bedding should also be washed weekly and dried at hot temperatures to kill dust mites.2,4,5

Keep stuffed animals off the bed since these harbor dust mites. You can also wash or freeze stuffed toys weekly.2,4,5


Despite the hype, no furry pets are truly hypoallergenic.

Most people with animal allergies are actually allergic to pet dander, a protein found in skin cells shed by an animal. These proteins are found in animal saliva, and urine. However, some people are not allergic to pet dander but to the pollen, mold spores ,and other allergens that collect on pet fur.1

Some people must completely avoid furry friends. For people with animal allergies, complete avoidance is the best idea. Others can manage their symptoms and live with a pet if it is groomed and bathed regularly. It should also sleep somewhere other than your bedroom. Pet toys and beds must be washed often.2,4,6

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