How To Test Your Home for Allergens

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Written By Jamila W.

Do you find yourself waking up with red and irritated eyes? Are you not sleeping well in your own comfy bed? Do your kids cough and sneeze no matter the time of year? Is all of this happening even after you thoroughly clean and disinfect your home?

You may be wondering what’s causing all of this. If you are experiencing symptoms that match anything above and don’t know why, your home may be overrun with allergens. But how? Tiny particles, called allergens, are floating, causing the air quality in your home to make you sick.

The truth is, you don’t have to go outside to get allergy symptoms. You probably have an indoor allergy if you’re constantly suffering from a runny nose and other types of allergic reactions. No, that doesn’t mean you’re allergic to your home! But if the indoor air quality in your home is filled with dust and other allergens, you could be allergic to the air in your home!

girl sneezing

But what can you do? 

That’s exactly what we will discuss in today’s blog. By the end of your read, you’ll understand what home allergens are, what causes them, where they come from, and how to test for allergens in your home. We even put together our pro tips on removing allergens from your home. So, are you ready to learn everything you need about indoor allergens, at-home allergy tests, and more? 

What Are Indoor Allergens?

Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, millions of people experience year-round allergies because of indoor allergens? The most common culprits are dust mite droppings, animal dander, cockroach droppings, and molds.

Your immune system is responsible for defending your body against substances that it considers harmful. For example, dust mites may trigger an allergic reaction in some people. This happens when your immune system identifies its presence and overreacts by producing an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE antibodies then interact with cells that release chemicals in the body. The result? The typical symptoms of allergies include a runny nose, itchiness, sneezing, and more, which can affect your nose, throat, ears, eyes, or even the roof of your mouth.

Now that we have all the medical talk out of the way. Let’s learn more about the different types of allergen exposure you could be dealing with inside your home.

Types of Indoor Allergens

Dust Mites

Dust mites are one of the most common allergens that will trigger symptoms in your home. You can find them just about everywhere in your home that is warm and humid. The best places to find them with an allergen test kit are in your bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpeting. Yes, if you have carpet throughout your home, you’ll have to test your entire home! 

Dust Mites

Like most people, you probably spend most of your time in your bedroom. That’s why it’s critical to reduce dust mite exposure there. You can wrap your box springs, mattresses, and pillows in special allergen-proof fabric covers. This will help improve the indoor air quality in your bedroom drastically. 

Pet Dander

You may have read online that you can buy a “hypoallergenic” dog or cat. But the truth is, that is completely false. No such thing exists because you don’t have allergic reactions to your dog or cat’s hair. You’re actually allergic to an allergen found in their saliva, dead skin flakes (dander), or even urine. 

Typical pet allergy symptoms will happen within minutes. However, with more long-term exposure, your immune responses will take longer. If you have severe allergies to your pet’s dander, one thing you can do is keep your pet outside. But that isn’t the ultimate end-all solution. That’s because homes with pets will still show elevated levels of pet dander and other animal allergens. 

The best way to help reduce allergies to pets is to take a blood test with your doctor. They will quickly determine if you’re allergic to your fur baby. 

Indoor Mold

This is another of the most common indoor air quality destroyers. And one that will most certainly elicit an immune response for anyone in your home. It’s also one of the harder ones to identify without using at-home tests. Why? Because indoor molds and mildew require damp environments to thrive in. These are usually your basement, bathroom, or anywhere in your home where a water leak is present. Things that like won’t appear on allergy tests, but they will when you test the air quality. 

Indoor Mold

If you come across mold growth on hard surfaces, don’t panic. You can tackle it with water, detergent, and 5% bleach if needed (just don’t mix bleach with other cleaners). It’s crucial to dry the area entirely to prevent a recurrence. 

But what if the mold covers more than 10 square feet? We recommend hiring an indoor environmental professional. For clothing, washing with soap and water is the best way. If you have mold in areas that can’t be cleaned and dried, you want to be sure to dispose of them. 

How Do I Know if I Need to Test My Home for Allergens?

Whether you think you need to test or not, it’s always a good idea to test anyway. This helps ensure that no allergens, like mold, impact your health. The last thing we all want is to breathe air harming us. 

One of our favorite benefits of testing the air in your home for pollutants like pollen, mold, and others is simply knowing how healthy your environment is. In addition, the knowledge gained from the test results allows you to make an educated decision on handling the air in your home. 

For instance, if you were to use an at-home allergy test, you may learn that investing in an air purifier for your home is essential. This will work to remove allergens, control your home’s VOCs, and even help reduce your bothersome symptoms. In addition, testing your home with air quality tests provides you with the information you need to remove any life-threatening allergens from your home. 

What Are At-Home Allergy Tests? 

At-home allergy tests are exactly what they sound like. They are testing kits that are affordable and easy to do yourself. The best part of all? They ensure you can take back control of your home’s indoor air quality. You’ll complete your testing at an independent laboratory for analysis, and they’ll send back accurate, easy-to-read results. In addition, every at-home test kit is simple to use and doesn’t require special equipment. 

Once you finish testing and get your results, you’ll know how to remove pollen and other allergens in the test report that are impacting your health. 

What Kinds of Allergens Do Home Test Kits Detect?

With just a single search online, you’ll discover plenty of indoor air quality testing kits to choose from. And they all detect different types of allergens in your home. Some of the most common ones you’ll find are: 

Allergen Test Kits

These tests are designed to detect the most common indoor pollutants, including mold spores, insect fragments, pollen, and even skin cells. If you want a more specialized test kit, you’ll want to look for ones that focus purely on fiberglass or dust mites. 

Mold Test Kits

These tests are designed to help you identify many types of mold that may have taken up residence in your home. That includes things like toxic mold. Did you know that unaddressed toxic mold can lead to severe health issues? So you don’t mess with toxic mold; if you’ve been exposed to it, be sure that you seek the attention of your healthcare provider right away. They can do some quick blood and skin testing to determine if you’ve been exposed to black mold. 

What are some other types of test kits? 

  • Dust Mite Test Kit
  • Formaldehyde Test Kit
  • Organic Vapor Test Kits
  • Lead Test Kits

How Do You Test The Air In Your Home?

One of the ways to test for pollutants in the air in your home is to use something called a laser particle counter. These are the easiest type of air testing devices to use. When using it, the particle counter will cycle air through the device and count the small and large particles. Once it analyzes those particles, it will display the test results. If you have many pollutants, it may be time to change your HVAC filters or add an air purifier or two to your home. 

air purifier

By taking just those two small steps to reduce the pollution in your home, you can help reduce the impact of allergies inside your home. 

What Can You Do Now To Help Remove Allergens From Your Home?

We all want to feel comfortable and at ease in our homes, but sometimes pesky indoor allergens can make that goal impossible. 

Luckily, you can take steps now to help control indoor allergens and breathe a little easier. Some of the most common sources of indoor allergens include your beloved furry friends, wall-to-wall carpet, soft furniture, and even things like stuffed toys and bedding. Cleaning and reducing these allergens in your home can create a much more comfortable and healthy breathing environment. 

Remember, surface allergens can quickly become airborne with a simple dusting or sitting on your couch. That’s why paying attention to what’s lurking on your surfaces is also essential. 

With a little effort and some at-home testing, you can eliminate those pesky allergens and enjoy the fresh air in your home.