Yellow pollen on a glass door

A local’s guide to pollen-proofing your home

Conquering the yellow dust

Story by Gregory P.  Thomas 

The Lowcountry is a haven of breathtaking beauty, from its pristine beaches to its lush greenery. However, this idyllic setting comes with a challenge that residents face annually: the battle against pollen and its impact on indoor air quality. As the warmer months roll in, bringing with them a higher pollen count, understanding and improving the air quality inside your home becomes paramount for both comfort and health.

The pollen problem

During spring and early summer the Lowcountry experiences a significant increase in pollen levels. This yellow dust not only blankets cars and patios but also finds its way into our homes, affecting air quality and, subsequently, our health. Common symptoms associated with pollen exposure include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and exacerbated asthma conditions. Maintaining clean indoor air is crucial, especially for families with allergy sufferers.

Strategies for cleaner indoor air

Regular cleaning: One of the most straightforward methods to combat indoor pollen is through regular cleaning. Dusting surfaces, vacuuming carpets and washing bedding weekly can significantly reduce the presence of pollen indoors. Use a damp cloth for dusting to prevent pollen from becoming airborne during the cleaning process. A robot vacuum cleaner scheduled to run twice a day can be a valuable ally in managing indoor pollen levels, significantly benefiting allergy sufferers.

Air filtration: Investing in a high-quality air purifier with a HEPA filter can make a substantial difference in your home’s air quality. HEPA filters are designed to capture particles as small as pollen, thereby reducing the amount of airborne allergens. It’s also beneficial to replace HVAC filters regularly, opting for ones with a high MERV rating for better pollen filtration.

Keep pollen out: Simple habits can help minimize the amount of pollen that enters your home. Keeping windows and doors closed during high pollen days and removing shoes before entering the house can significantly reduce indoor pollen levels. Additionally, consider showering in the evening to wash off any pollen that may have collected on your body and hair throughout the day.

Monitor humidity levels: Pollen isn’t the only contributor to poor indoor air quality; high humidity levels also play a role by fostering mold growth. Using a dehumidifier to maintain humidity levels under 50 percent can help prevent mold and create a less hospitable environment for pollen.

Indoor plants: Certain indoor plants, like spider plants, peace lilies and snake plants, can improve indoor air quality. They act as natural air purifiers, absorbing not only carbon dioxide but also some pollutants and allergens. Just be sure to avoid overwatering, as this can increase indoor humidity levels.

Know the count

Pollen counts are often included in weather reports or can be found on websites dedicated to allergies and air quality. Here’s a quick glance of what to expect with each level. 

Low: Only individuals extremely sensitive to pollen will experience symptoms.

Moderate: Many people with pollen allergies will begin to have mild symptoms.

High: Most individuals with allergies will experience symptoms, which may be severe.

Very High: Almost all individuals with any sensitivity to pollen will experience symptoms, often severe.

Post-pollen season power washing: Timing is everything

As the golden hues of pollen season fade away, giving way to clearer skies and cleaner air, local homeowners might begin to consider the aftermath left on their exteriors. The layers of pollen that have settled on siding, windows, decks and patios not only detract from your home’s aesthetic appeal but can harbor allergens that might find their way indoors. Power washing emerges as a crucial maintenance step, but timing this task is key to maximizing its benefits while safeguarding your home’s integrity.

Power Washing Garden Cobble Stone Paths. Outdoor Cleaning Using Pressure Washer. Closeup Photo.

Ideal timing for power washing

After pollen season: The optimal time for power washing home is immediately following the end of the primary pollen season, usually late spring or early summer. This timing ensures that you remove the bulk of pollen deposits before they can cause long-term staining or damage. Moreover, cleaning after the pollen season avoids the need for repeated washings, should pollen levels spike again.

Weather conditions: Choose a day with mild, dry weather for power washing. Extreme heat can cause water to evaporate too quickly, leaving soap residue, while windy conditions can make it challenging to control the spray and could spread pollen that’s still in the air back onto cleaned surfaces.

Home maintenance schedule: Align power washing with your overall home-maintenance schedule. This activity fits well with other seasonal tasks, such as gutter cleaning and outdoor repairs, providing a comprehensive approach to home upkeep. Ensuring that power washing is part of a regular maintenance routine can extend the life of your paint and siding materials.

Considerations before power washing

Inspect your home: Before power washing, inspect your home’s exterior for any signs of damage, such as cracked siding or loose panels. Power washing can exacerbate existing issues, so it’s important to address these problems beforehand.

Professional versus DIY: Depending on the size of your home and the complexity of its exterior, consider whether to hire a professional or undertake the task yourself. Professionals have the equipment and expertise to efficiently and safely clean all types of surfaces without causing damage.

Environmental awareness: Be mindful of the cleaning solutions used, opting for eco-friendly options that won’t harm your landscaping or the broader ecosystem. Additionally, consider water usage, and comply with possible summer regulations.

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