The list of irritants that can make you sneeze, sniff, and your eyes water is long: animal dander, mold, dust, dust mites and pollen. The problem is, they can fester in some unexpected places. 

  • Like your friend with the 3 cats who came over to visit. Sure, she left Mr. Whiskers at home, but she had animal dander all over her clothes. And when she sat down, she deposited all those allergens on your couch. The fix: Vacuum your couches and carpets after your friend leaves. But use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the allergens from spewing right back out of the machine. 

  • Another surprise allergy trigger: Your throw pillows, throw blanket, and stuffed toys. Those items come into contact with skin, and that means flakes slough off and encourage dust mites. The fix: Throw those things in the dryer and tumble them on high for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • In your bedroom, irritants can be festering on your bookshelf. Books and framed photos collect dust obviously, but books can also contribute to indoor mold, especially in humid climates. The fix: Get the bookshelf out of your bedroom. Because you’ll be breathing all that in while you sleep. And vacuum them once a week when you do your floors.

  • Here’s one allergy source that may surprise you: Cooking steam! The steam that wafts from your pots and pans as you cook settles in places you may not think to clean, and mold builds up. We’re talking your walls, ceiling, cupboards, upper shelves and behind large appliances. The fix? Run your stove’s exhaust fan to vent moisture while you’re cooking. If you do see mold, get rid of it with a mixture of bleach and water.