While we may not be getting outside into nature and up close with all that spring blossom - and with it, airborne pollen - right now, we're still susceptible to seasonal allergies.
Even if we're self-isolating, working from home or keeping a safe distance and only venturing into the garden, pollen can still find its way indoors. And that's not the only allergen to think about.
"Inhaled allergens in the home include dust mites, mould, allergenic tree pollen that gets indoors, especially silver birch in April, grass pollen between May and July, and cat and dog dander. All these inhaled allergens contribute to poor indoor air quality and can cause health problems," explains Catherine Sutton from Airborne Allergy Action .
While some people may require treatments to help manage allergy symptoms, preventive methods - such as minimising allergens in your home - can be very effective and are certainly a good idea for anyone prone to seasonal sneezing and itchy, sore eyes.
The team at Just Shutters share these eight steps for minimising allergens in your home...
1. Humidify your home
Investing in a humidifier could be one of the best decisions you make if you're an allergy sufferer. Keeping the home at a happy medium is key to reducing allergens, as dust and pollen are provoked by dry air, while mould thrives in a moist air. Setting the humidifier to 50% will help you avoid the worst of the allergens from both environments.
2. Take up the carpets
With more time on our hands for DIY and odd jobs around the home, getting down on your knees and taking up the carpets could be your next best move.
Carpets can be a magnet for allergens, which can be kicked into the air each time the carpet's walked over. A helpful step for severe allergy sufferers is to replace carpet with hardwood or linoleum flooring. If you miss the soft, cosy feel of carpet, invest in a rug which can be washed regularly.
If removing the carpet isn't an option, ensure they are vacuumed weekly and regularly shampooed (with a non-toxic shampoo). If you're in the process of choosing a carpet and want to keep allergens at bay, opt for low-pile instead of high-pile.
3. Use non-toxic products
Harsh chemicals found in common household cleaners can aggravate or trigger symptoms for allergy sufferers, especially those with asthma. Most cleaning products contain a toxic mix of chemicals which can cause irritations, especially carpet cleaners and air-fresheners which settle and mix with dust particles. Switching to green, environmentally-friendly cleaning products with plant-based ingredients can significantly reduce the allergen count in your home.
"Ensure surfaces that are touched regularly in your home or workspace are sanitised accordingly. These include doorknobs, handrails or bannisters, tables, chairs, light switches, remote controls and bins," says Mark Quinn CEO of eco-friendly cleaning brand OzKleen.
4. Wash it away
Porous materials such as bedding, pillows, throws and rugs can be a haven for dust mites. Be sure to wash all these items regularly and on a high temperature, preferably 60 degrees. Drying them in a hot dryer can also help prevent dust mites. Similarly, children's stuffed toys can attract dust mites and should be washed at least once a month. If washing is a no-go area, then a quick spin in the dryer will help zap away pesky mites.
5. Double up on doormats
Each time you walk inside the house, you carry pollen, dust and debris on your shoes, which can increase contaminants inside the home considerably.
To eliminate this risk as much as possible, get a doormat for outside and inside your front door to make sure shoes are clean before they're removed. Getting into the habit of leaving shoes wiped clean and by the door is an effective way of stopping allergens from spreading through the house.
6. Get rid of mould
Mould spores can float in the air like pollen and trigger allergy symptoms. Mould develops in wet, dirty places, such as the back of the sink, cracked tiles and the shower curtain. Take time to inspect the bathroom and kitchen, scrubbing away dirt and sealing any cracks to prevent build up. Installing a ventilation fan in the bathroom can also help reduce moisture which contributes to mould growth.
7. Swap curtains for shutters
Heavy dry-clean-only curtains and small-slatted blinds can be amongst the worst culprits for increasing allergies, as they're hard to clean and release allergens into the air each time they're opened and closed. Instead, opt for easy-to-clean shutters with large slats, which can be wiped down and cleaned quickly. An additional benefit of shutters is they allow you to air your home without compromise.
Chris Rocker, founder of Just Shutters, says: "We've worked with numerous clients both in private homes and hotels, who've come to us to help reduce allergens in their rooms, particularly in bedrooms. Time and time again we have been successful in creating a stylish and allergy-free space for those clients."
8. Upgrade your duster
One of the biggest causes of allergies are dust mites, which are tiny bugs found in household dust. Many dusters, whether synthetic or feather, disturb the dust and move it around. However, an ostrich feather duster promises to attract and hold the dust particles, due to an innate static charge.
They're also perfect for dusting shutters, TV screens and any delicate or hard-to-reach areas. You can buy them from Amazon, John Lewis and Just Shutters.