Did you know that Ohio is the worst state for allergies? Seven cities in our state – more than any other state- made the list of the top 5 most allergy-unfriendly cities in the country according to a report from the Natural Resource Defense Council, with Cincinnati coming in at number 23 in the United States. Ouch! Or should we say “Achoo!” We also hit record-high pollen levels this March, which I’m sure made no one with pollen allergies thrilled.
If you’re one of us who suffers from watery eyes and respiratory issues thanks to allergies, you already know that sometimes certain home furnishings can make things worse. We’re told to go for rugs, not carpets, and make sure our air filters have a higher MERV rating. For some of us, allergies are year-round so the end of spring doesn’t mean the end of sneezes. Pet dander, dust, or even mold can set us off. Also fabric particles, (and sorry in advance), bug parts, and dried food particles can make it into our air, and make up the household dust you see on surfaces.
What doesn’t get talked about enough is how your window coverings can also be making your allergies worse! Fortunately, there are some simple things to keep in mind when selecting window coverings to help make sure your selection accommodates your allergy needs, while still maintaining beautiful style, light control, and more.
What window coverings are best for allergy sufferers?
Modern Precious Metals® Aluminum Blinds by Hunter Douglas
Wide-slat blinds are great for people with allergies
Wood blinds, metal blinds, and faux-wood blinds with wide slats are great options for allergy sufferers. They don’t hold nearly as much dust or other particles as cloth, and they’re easy to run a vacuum or soft cloth with warm water over.
Vertical Solutions® Vertical Blinds by Hunter Douglas
Vertical blinds prevent allergen build-up
Vertical blinds are another perfect option, since there are no horizontal surfaces for dust mites, dander, or other allergens to settle on. Simply follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning periodically to keep them beautiful, clean, and allergen-free.
Heritance® Hardwood Shutters by Hunter Douglas
Shutters are a great allergy-reducing option
Shutters are another great option, as they have many of the benefits of blinds, but allow for an alternative if blinds aren’t your preference. Again, wider slats (called louvres on shutters) will make your life easier. A small brush, like the kind designed to clean between keys on a keyboard, would be great for getting in the small edges where the louvers meet the frame. Alternatively you can use compressed air. Again, the same kind you use to clean your keyboard, and just blow out any corners (just don’t breathe that in!).
Mold prevention matters when selecting materials too.
Kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms are places that are regularly exposed to high levels of moisture. When you select window coverings for these rooms, moisture-resistant materials are a must. Fortunately, faux-wood and metal options are designed to withstand moisture. It helps prevent them from fading, yellowing, warping or bowing as well, which is a risk of moisture even if allergens aren’t a concern.
Design Studio™ Roller Shades by Hunter Douglas
Roller shades are a great fabric option for people with allergies
If shutters and blinds aren’t your thing, roller and solar shades are still a great option. While they are fabric which means they’ll attract more than other options, they’re flat when closed which makes cleaning easy. But best of all, when they’re open, they roll up into a top cassette that doesn’t allow dust to gather whatsoever. They also come in hundreds of beautiful fabrics so you’ll never be without an option you love!
Solar shades are essentially identical to roller shades. They offer lighter levels of opacity, and UV protection. If you’re adding these to a sunroom, they’d be a wonderful choice that protects your skin as much as your sinuses!
What window coverings should allergy-suffers avoid?
Smaller slat blinds, aka mini-blinds
While smaller slat blinds can still work, each additional slat is one more space you would need to wipe down. Wider slats mean less slats, making cleaning easier.
Plastic or vinyl blinds
Plastic or vinyl blinds seem like they’d be equally as good, right? However, the material tends to create natural static electricity. This allows dust particles to cling much more easily and they will need cleaning significantly more often than other alternatives.
While you can vacuum cellular blinds, the honeycomb shape creates tunnels that can trap airborne allergens in a unique way. You can blow them out with compressed air, however, if the insulation benefits for you outweigh the need for a slightly more complex cleaning method to rid of any potential allergens.
Dry-clean only roman shades and draperies
Fabric options are certainly a favorite, and beautiful. However fabric holds dust and dander more than anything else. If your allergies are really sensitive, fabric really is never going to be your best friend. Fabric may be dry-clean-only which is going to reduce the frequency in which they get a deep clean.
If you opt for a fabric option, regular vacuuming is a must. You also need to have machine-washable fabric, which would need to be washed weekly. This makes wear and tear a big concern, and you’ll also loose the definition in pleats, which could over time create very worn and shapeless window coverings.
There are, however, some natural material fabrics that are also machine-washable and do hold shape well, so don’t give up hope if fabric is your dream.