If you are the parent of a child who has environmental allergies – that is, if he or she is allergic to things like dust, pollen or animal dander — you know just how miserable an allergic reaction, with its runny nose and itchy, watery eyes can make them. You also know how helpless it can make you feel to see your child suffer.

There is no way you can entirely get rid of the allergens in your home. But if you are willing to put in some extra work, you can greatly reduce the levels that are there and make life easier and more comfortable for all of you.

Don’t Spare the Vacuum Cleaner and Dust Cloths

To keep the home as allergen-free as possible, make sure you are vacuuming thoroughly and dusting at least once a week – and more than that if time permits it.  This will not only help to reduce levels of dust, but also of things like pet dander or mold spores that may have accumulated in the house. But because these activities can actually stir up dust while you’re doing them, try to do it when your child is not at home.

Consider a Makeover for the House

Apart from dusting and vacuuming frequently, another great way to reduce dust and other allergens in the house is to go through a bit of a makeover. Consider ripping out any wall-to-wall carpeting you might have and replacing it with tile, wood, linoleum or other surface that can be easily cleaned.  Replace curtains with blinds, as curtains are another allergen magnet and be careful of items like chair pads, throw pillows or area rugs.  Consider buying living room furniture with a material that is easily washable, like leather.  These are bigger changes but they will make life easier later on.

Get Ready to Do a Lot of Extra Wash

If your child has allergies, be prepared to put a lot more wear and tear on your washer and dryer than in the average home. Washing and drying blankets, pillows, pillowcases and sheets every week is simply a must for helping to reduce allergen build-up.  Using hot water and letting it go through a long dry cycle is best, because this will help remove the most allergens and the dryer’s heat can help kill off spores from molds. And even though they smell great afterwards, don’t hang these on a clothesline to dry, as this will only help them collect things like pollen and mold that are out in the air.

Have a Game Plan for Your Pet

Your child with allergies can still have a pet, but you will have to think this one out carefully.  A big shaggy dog or Persian cat sleeping with your child is just not going to work. But you do have some options.  As a first choice, keep your pet outside, though of course with access to a shelter, food and water.  If you do have your pet inside, at least make sure that some areas of the house – especially your child’s bedroom – are pet-free.  Also keep in mind that while there are no truly hypoallergenic pets, some, such as poodles, have proven to be easier for kids with allergies.

Filter it Out – and Dehumidify

Fortunately, there are some great products on the market to help you really improve the quality of the air in your home.  The first is a

HEPA filter, which cleans out particles of dust, mold and other allergens from your home.  The second is a dehumidifier, which can make it not only easier to breathe and more comfortable, but also make your home less hospitable to the mold which can set some many people’s allergies off.

Think “Hypoallergenic”

The great news is that there are more hypoallergenic home products than ever to choose from. The most important of these purchases is arguably hypoallergenic covers for your child’s bed and pillowcase. It makes sense: since your child spends about one-third of their lives asleep, making sure the environment in which they get their zzzz’s is as free of allergens as possible.

Don’t Forget the Damp Spots

Bathrooms, basements, those little spaces under the sink…every house has little areas where moisture and like of ventilation can make it easy for mold to move in.   So be sure to clean periodically in these areas and use products such as bleach, which are able to kill not only mold and mildew but spores as well. This will make the house a much healthier environment for everyone.

Let’s be honest here: these tips call for a lot more work than what many typical American households need. However, this extra work can pay off in terms of helping reduce the number and severity of your child’s allergy attacks and can make your home a safer, more allergy-friendly place to be.