Can my vacuum help me fight my allergies?

No matter how clean you keep your home, a dust mite allergy will make you reach for the tissues every time. Does vacuuming help?
No matter how clean you keep your home, a dust mite allergy will make you reach for the tissues every time. Does vacuuming help?
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Springtime for many people means puppy love and picnics, but for others it marks the beginning of another allergy season of itching, sneezing and wheezing. While they'd love to enjoy lunch in the park, allergy sufferers are rubbing their eyes, watching as their skin turns red and blotchy, and hoping their nasal congestion doesn't get so bad it causes rings to develop around their eyes.

Allergies to ragweed and pollen are seasonal, but people who are allergic to dust mites or common household pets may suffer these symptoms year round. One recent study shows an allergy to household pets or dust mites can actually worsen the symptoms of ragweed allergies [source: Queen's University]. And allergy seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer, possibly due to rising temperatures around the globe [source: Landau].

If you have allergies to pets, you probably notice how quickly the direct presence of a cat or dog affects you, and you may have to take allergy shots or medication to reduce or suppress the symptoms if you have pets yourself. These medications come in handy -- no matter how careful you are about keeping pets outside, their hair and dander have a near-miraculous way of working their way deep inside your home. People's shoes track in traces of animal waste from outside, while other clothes distribute animal hair from room to room.

If you want any hope of allergy relief, you must work to eliminate allergen sources while also working to rid your house of existing allergens. Whether it's dust mites, pollen particles or dander that trigger symptoms, carpets and rugs make inviting, long-term homes for allergens.

Like many people, you may have a stand-up vacuum that's several years old, and hopefully a backup supply of the disposable bags many of these vacuums require. It's important to rid your house of dust, dirt and dander when you're fighting allergies, and frequent vacuuming is an important part of this strategy. However, older bagged vacuums may not do the trick. For one thing, since you have to replace bags, you may vacuum less to conserve them (or not vacuum at all when you're out of bags). Also, as bags become full, suction power decreases, meaning the allergens in your carpet remain after the vacuum has passed over them.

So can vacuuming help you fight allergies? Read on to find out.