Plus, we share our top tips for how to get rid of allergens in your home.
Learn how to relieve indoor allergies and asthma symptoms by simply upgrading your AC or furnace filter. The best HVAC filters for allergies should capture the finest of particles, removing them from the air before they enter your lungs. Filters with higher MERV ratings do the best job of trapping environmental triggers for asthma and allergies. Keep reading for a full description of the MERV rating system.
Remember, it's not just trees and grasses that can wreak havoc with your asthma; the air quality inside your home can also trigger symptoms. If you have pets, pollen, dust, or mold spores being circulated throughout your rooms, life can be uncomfortable indeed. Luckily, there are simple ways to allergy-proof your home, and they begin and end with your HVAC system. Today's heating and cooling systems do more than just adjust room temperature, they can be a first-line defense for anyone in your home who suffers from asthma or allergies.
Best Air Filters for Allergies: How MERV Ratings Affect Air Quality
MERV ratings, or Minimum Efficiency Ratings Values, are numbers assigned to air filters to determine their efficiency when it comes to removing particulates from the air. Higher MERV ratings translate into better, more efficient filters. These ratings are expressed in numbers from 1 to 20, each responsible for removing various types of allergens.
- MERV 1-4: Filters with MERV ratings of 1 to 4 are generally capable of removing only large particulates such as carpet fibers, dust mites, pollen, dust, and textile fibers.
- MERV 5-8: MERV 5 to 8 filters routinely capture mold spores, hairspray, and even the dust from cement.
- MERV 9-12: MERV 9 to 12 filters can remove exhaust fumes, lead dust, and some types of bacteria.
- MERV 13-16: Filters that boast MERV ratings of 13 to 16 can remove tobacco smoke, all types of bacteria, and even the residue left lingering in the air from a sneeze. These are truly the best air conditioner filters for allergies and asthma.
Are Allergy Filters for Home Worth the Investment?
Higher MERV ratings also mean higher price tags, and in some cases more energy consumption as the unit encounters more resistance when pulling air in. However, for comfort from severe allergies and as the best air filters for asthma, they're a solid investment. We recommend our MERV 13 filters.
If you or a family member has asthma, installing filters with higher MERV ratings in your home could be a solution. As part of a heating and cooling system or as part of an actual air purifier, the best air filters for asthma in your home are the ones capable of trapping and keeping problems allergens away from your loved ones. You could even go one step further and purchase a personal air scrubber to use at home, in the office, or when you travel to help reduce both allergens and many aerosols carrying harmful viruses, bacteria, mold, and smoke. It's a popular product with home wellness experts.
What Else Can You Do to Reduce Common Household Allergens?
If your filter isn't due for a replacement or you aren't yet convinced of the benefits a higher MERV rating has to offer, we suggest you begin altering your everyday behaviors to create a cleaner environment for yourself and your family. There are many easy changes you can make that will offer major advantages to your health and reduce common indoor allergens. Here are some top tips to help you get started:
Six Steps to Allergy and Asthma-Proof Your Home:
- Wash Bedding Regularly – Your bed is the favorite place for dust-mite colonies and dead skin to settle. Medical experts strongly advise that you strip your bed and wash the sheets weekly in hot water to kill dust mites and, if possible, use your vacuum cleaner tools to remove excess debris from your mattress surface. Encase your pillow, mattress, and box spring with hypoallergenic covers to further reduce allergen exposure. Don’t forget decorative pillows, upholstery on couches, and stuffed animals because they can harbor dust mites and pollen that enter from outside.
- Dust Without Chemicals – If you’re used to dusting with a chemical aid, this could backfire and irritate your allergies. Dusting with a feather duster is no good either because it simply spreads dust around. A healthier option is to use a microfiber cloth to attract and remove dust from your home. You can even throw the cloth in the wash and reuse it later. Remember to clean items such as your lampshade, bookshelves, and electronics, especially your laptop computers. To prevent the collection of dust, pollen, and other allergens on your laptop, consider a gel or rubber case that you can remove and wipe easily.
- Manage Humidity – Canadian researchers in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy found that mold and moisture in homes are common asthma triggers. In the summer, your focus should be on lowering indoor humidity with a whole-house dehumidifier. This device works in conjunction with your air conditioner to remove excess humidity, reducing the chance of mold growth. The goal is to keep humidity below 35% because if humidity is above 50%, fungi and mold thrive.
- Clean or Replace Curtains & Drapes – Imagine the dust the curtains right in front of your windows collect, especially when you open them. Don't think you’ve covered all the bases if you've forgotten to change or wash the curtains. The best curtain fabrics for an allergy sufferer are plain cotton or synthetic. But if you must have the beautiful lace and satin curtains, wash them as often as you would your bedding – weekly and with hot water.
- Clean or Replace Silk Flowers – Although they might serve as floral decor, they harbor tons of dust and allergens. For those not willing to give up their silk orchids, it is important to dust them with a damp microfiber cloth to prevent dust from moving around. Another great suggestion that will help is to replace them with real plants – ones that enhance your air quality, such as bamboo, aloe vera, and various species of fern. They require little water and look great while cleaning your air.
- Have Your House Examined for Mold – If you're not seeing relief after taking these additional steps to combat your allergy or asthma symptoms, consider having your home inspected for mold. It can grow in spaces you'd never expect – from the crawl space to your hidden ductwork. The air you breathe might be traveling through dust and mold-infested ducts. A professional can pinpoint the problem spots and help you choose the best solution.
If you follow all these steps, you'll notice a difference in how you feel. Your home can be your refuge from allergy and asthma symptoms. You just put in a little work and invest in the best allergen-reducing air filters you can afford.
For more ways to improve your health at home, check out our other Helpful Tips.