It’s not always what buyers can see in a home that causes them to want to buy it or not. Sometimes it’s the way the home feels. I’m not talking about staging, the size, or how spacious the home is, although those factors are important too. In this column I’m focusing on how buyers’ allergies may be affected when they tour your home.

“We have about 300 million Americans and about 60 million of them have allergies or asthma,” says, Mike Tringale, Director of External Affairs for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

Allergy problems can be debilitating for sufferers. Many will go to great lengths to avoid any possible influences that might bring on symptoms. Allergies and asthma are increasing, Tringale says, “some of that may actually be because of the houses we’re living in.” He adds, “it all comes down to the air quality in the home.” According to AAFA, there are some simple steps that you can take to help clear the air in your home and reduce any harmful fumes—making it more appealing to those with allergies and even those without.

Tringale says do this three-step process: take an organized approach to looking at how your home is built, look at materials used in your home, and understand the types of cleaning agents that you’re using and how they can affect indoor air quality.

Check for mold. Mold is one of the most common indoor allergens. “Look for cracks in foundation. Check to see if the windows are completely sealed or if moisture is getting in—too much moisture can lead to a mold problem,” says Tringale. He adds that there are also housing products, such as wallboard, that are mold resistant. So be sure to check for those items when replacing housing materials.

Clean with hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate not bleach. Bleach is a common cleaning chemical but it has a very strong odor and, people with highly sensitive allergies to bleach, often immediately can sense symptoms coming on even if with just a brief exposure to the chemical.

Use PVC-free shower curtains. Hard to imagine that a pretty shower curtain can wreak such havoc on people’s allergies, but the polyvinyl chloride shower curtains can release more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including two (toluene and xylene) that are classified as hazardous pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency. Having PVC shower curtains hanging around while your home is being shown can make those suffering from allergies feel the need to escape quickly.

Opt for area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. The U.S. Green Building Council provides information on “going green,” the Council says carpeting can be particularly troublesome because the padding underneath is very difficult to clean or remove for drying. Carpets also harbor dirt, organic detritus, and moisture and can become a significant source for mold and mildew. Instead use area rugs over a hard-surface floor. The Council also recommends avoiding all biocide-treated (moth repellent) wool or cotton carpets.

Use products that contain low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A lot of homeowners will paint just before they list their homes for sale. But Tringale says, if you do, be sure to use paints that contain low VOCs. “Many paints contain volatile organic compounds and smells that can linger for weeks and cause all kinds of symptoms including eye irritations for people,” says Tringale.

“If you’re re-staining your floors ask for the low VOC stains, or even better, put in pre-treated floors rather than raw wood that you then have to apply polyurethane over the top of,” says Tringale. He cautions sellers to “Make smart choices; otherwise you’re going to have a house that is really chemically offensive to buyers who are walking through.” For more information visit asthmaandallergyfriendly.com.

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