While most of us look forward to the long summer months, the hot weather can have an adverse effect on allergy sufferers. As temperatures climb, so too does the number of people suffering with hay fever and the sore throats, watery eyes and runny noses that come with it as our immune systems respond to pollen, pet hair, dust mites and mould.

These symptoms are amplified in summer when the warmth, humidity and breezy conditions can lead to a high pollen count, affecting over 13 million people in Britain alone. An additional 80 per cent of those who suffer from asthma also experience hay fever.* While medications can be a short-term fix to relieving symptoms, preventive methods such as allergy proofing your home can be much more effective.

The team at Just Shutters has created a simple, eight-step guide to an allergy-free abode.

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 the 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 per cent will help you avoid the worst of the allergens from both environments.

Take Up the Carpets Carpets can be a magnet for allergens which can be particularly irritant as these are kicked into the air each time the carpet is walked over. The best solution 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 easily picked up and washed. And, if removing carpet isn’t an option, ensure carpets 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.

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.

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.

Double Up on Doormats Each time you walk inside the house, you carry pollen, dust and debris in 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 are removed. Getting into the habit of leaving shoes wiped clean and by the door is an effective way of stopping allergens from spreading through your house.

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.

Swap Curtains for Shutters Heavy dry-clean-only curtains and small-slatted blinds can be the worst culprits for increasing allergies as they are hard to clean and release allergens into the air each time they are opened and closed. Instead, opt for easy-to-clean shutters with large slats which can be wiped down and cleaned quickly. Being so easy to clean often means they get cleaned more frequently, preventing particle build up even more. An additional benefit of shutters is that they allow you to air your home without compromise. Chris Rocker, Founder of the UK’s largest independent shutter company Just Shutters, said: “We have worked with numerous clients both in private homes and hotels who have 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.”

Dust Busting One of the biggest causes of allergies are dust mites, which are tiny insects found in household dust. Many dusters, whether synthetic or feather, disturb the dust and move it around, an ostrich feather duster will attract and hold the dust particles due to an innate static charge. Ostrich feather dusters are perfect for dusting shutters, TV screens and any delicate or hard-to-reach areas. There are several different types of ostrich feather which can be used to make a duster with the premium being the dark black ostrich feather which are exceptionally soft with long flexible barbs making it by far the most effective. Ostrich feather dusters are available from John Lewis, Just Shutters and other homeware stores.

*Allergy Free UK Just Shutters, Southbourne Grove, Bournemouth 01202 240769 justshutters.co.uk