Man sneezes because of dog dander

How To Get Rid Of Pet Dander At Home

When I started getting headaches and sneezing a lot, I asked my allergist how I could get rid of pet dander at home. That was about 25 years ago, and the allergist told me I was allergic to dogs.

When he told me I had to get rid of my dog, I made the very easy decision of getting rid of my allergist. There are many things pet parents can do to control pet dander at home.

Pet dander and saliva are what most people are allergic to when they say they have pet allergies. Pet dander is the tiny flecks of skin shed by pets such as dogs and cats. These microscopic bits of skin cause reactions to people who are allergic to certain pets.

I decided to make some changes in my life. I will always share life with a dog, but I knew I had to make some in-home adjustments. Here’s how I got rid of pet dander at home along with what the experts say and products to help control pet dander in your abode.

What Is Pet Dander?

People with over-sensitive immune systems may react to pet dander. Pet dander is a harmless protein in a dog’s dead skin cells (dander), urine, or saliva. It isn’t the dog you are allergic to – it’s his dander.

These minuscule flecks of dander may create allergies, sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, or even asthmatic symptoms or flare-ups in extremely affected people.

When I was diagnosed with a dog allergy, my symptoms were sinus pressure, a runny nose, and occasional allergy-related headaches. I was diagnosed with allergy skin testing, and my dog reaction had a 24-hour delayed reaction. After 24 hours, the area where I was injected with a small amount of dog allergen showed a slight redness.

I will share what I did to gain relief and some things you can do to control pet dander in your home.

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I am also an Etsy and Chewy affiliate.

How To Find Products That Control Allergens

Fortunately, there is an organization that took it upon themselves to wade through all the bunk and promises that a product is truly asthma and allergy-friendly. I spoke with the folks at the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program and worked with their CERTIFIED brand partners. The Program certifies third-party products as allergy and asthma-friendly

They test household products against strict standards. If the product passes its tests, they earn the CERTIFIED asthma and allergy-friendly mark.

Allergy friendly label

The organization tests everything from air cleaners to humidifiers and flooring to vacuum cleaners. In exchange for an honest review of several items, I put three of their certified products to the test. More about that shortly.

Certified Air Purifiers receive the organization’s approval if they remove at least 75 percent of allergens from the air, including pet allergens and pollens.

Bedding that is certified, including pillow protectors, mattress protectors, sheets, and comforters, if they really perform as promised. Because AAFA says people spend one-third of their time in the bedroom, those with severe pet allergies should not allow their pets in the bedroom.

Certified vacuum cleaners are given the AAFA seal of approval if they help remove pet hair and dander that has settled on hardwood floors and carpet.

Why Is Reducing Pet Dander At Home A Good Idea?

“Cat and dog allergens can land on the membranes (soft tissue) that line the eyes and nose,” says Kenneth Mendez, President, and CEO of AAFA. “Reactions can include swelling and itching of the eyes and nose, stuffy nose, coughing, and sneezing.”

Mendez reports many airborne allergens are small enough to get into a person’s lungs. For some people, this can make it hard to breathe, and highly sensitive people may react quickly.

“They can begin coughing, wheezing, having shortness of breath, or an asthma episode within 15 to 30 minutes of inhaling allergens,” Mendez shares. “This is called allergic asthma.”

How To Reduce Pet Allergens In The Home

AAFA suggests a variety of strategies and tips for pet parents to reduce exposure to pet allergens at home. In addition to the AAFA Certified products listed below, here are their top tips:

  1. Keep your pet out of your bedrooms or sleeping areas. You spend at least one-third of your time there. Keep the bedroom door closed. Consider using a CERTIFED asthma & allergy friendly® air cleaner in your bedroom.
  2. Wear a mask and gloves while cleaning. Or have someone without a pet allergy clean when you aren’t home.
  3. Keep your pets off fabric furniture or cover them with slipcovers or blankets you can wash weekly. Vacuum fabric furniture and carpets weekly. Or remove carpet, if possible, and replace with laminate or wood flooring.
  4. Have someone without a pet allergy brush the pet outside to remove dander, as well as clean the litter box, bedding, or cage.
  5. Clean hard furniture, walls, and baseboards regularly with a damp or microfiber cloth. This will help keep the pet dander from going back into the air.
  6. Forced-air heating and air-conditioning can spread allergens through the house if it doesn’t have adequate filtration. Consider using a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter with your central heating and air conditioning to help remove pet allergens from the air. If you live in a rental apartment and don’t have access to your central air, you can cover your bedroom vents with dense filtering material like cheesecloth.

AAFA also has a Healthy Home checklist to improve indoor air quality, which you can access through your desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

Best Products To Get Rid Of Pet Dander At Home

Each of the following products is AAFA approved and certified. We have experience with each of the items on this list. In exchange for an honest review, AAFA provided us with the Rabbit Air Purifier, BedCare mite-proof pillows, and moisture-wicking pillowcases. We purchased everything else on this list.

How to get rid of pet dander in the home

Rabbit Air A3 Air Purifier

I’ve been wanting a Rabbit Air air purifier for many years, as they continually receive 5-star reviews and are touted as one of the best air purifiers on the market.

The A3 model has three-element sensing features so you can simply put it on, set it, and forget it. I’ve been using it in my home office for the past 30 days. It comes with a five-year warranty and 24/7 customer service and tech support, which I used once to ask a question.

Things I Like

  • It is whisper quiet so it purifies my air while remaining almost silent in its lowest mode
  • It can be placed on the floor or mounted on a wall, such as near your desk or in a bedroom (which keeps it away from nosy pets)
  • The unit covers 1,070 square feet and filter 8,560 cubic feet of air in 30 minutes
  • Six-stage filtration and deodorization with a BioGS HEPA filter. The activated carbon filter let you tailor the Rabbit Air system to your specific needs.

Things to Consider

  • The Rabbit Air should not be in a corner nor too much moisture
  • Some electronics that run on the same wavelength can cause interference, but in my home office I had no problems.
  • It is best to elevate the Rabbit Air slightly off the ground, so I used a small portable plant stand.
  • It is pricey but will last a long time

It is available in pet allergy, germ defense, odor remover, and toxin absorber. We opted for the pet allergy version.

BedCare All-Cotton Mite-Proof Pillows

My wife and I have long struggled to find the perfect pillow. We don’t want something too hard but it should be supportive enough to retain its shape every night year after year. Since our dog sleeps on the bed with us, we opted to try the BedCare brand all-cotton mite-proof pillows.

For allergy sufferers, take heart in knowing the tightly woven 100 percent cotton has a pore size of 2.6 microns. This means that even the smallest allergens cannot penetrate it. The pillow is soft and cool, with a 300-thread count. Since the shell is mite-proof, you get a pillow and protective cover all in one.

People with over-sensitive immune systems may react to pet dander.

Things I Like

  • Available in standard, queen, and king sizes with a 5-year warranty
  • Keeps you safe from dust mites, bed bugs, and other allergens
  • Pillow may be machine washed and put in the dryer when needed
  • Does not store or radiate heat, which makes for cool, restful sleep
  • Made in the USA

Things to Consider

  • Choose from 24 ounce or 26 ounce fill weight depending on your desire
  • The pillow seemed to soften a bit after using it for a month

There are other knock-off versions of this pillow, so be sure you get the one marked BedCare brand.

Wicked Sheets Moisture Wicking and Cooling Pillowcase

You can’t have an awesome AAFA-approved pillow without an equally divine AAFA-approved pillowcase. I feared the cooling technology of the pillow would be diminished with regular pillowcases. Instead, we tried the Wicked Sheets brand of pillowcases.

Touted as “not your grandmother’s polyester,” these pillowcases are scientifically engineered to wick moisture away from your skin so you stay cool and dry during sleep, If you suffer from night sweats or don’t want to sweat as you sleep, I highly recommend the Wicked Sheets line of pillowcases. I love that they complement the BedCare pillowcases to keep allergens away.

Pillow cases for people with pet allergies

Things I Like

  • Free of dyes, bleaching agents, and chemicals that can cause irritation
  • Available in king or queen
  • Moisture-wicking technology is similar to athletic apparel that wicks away six times more moistuire than standard pillowcases
  • Poly-nylon fibers remain two to three degrees cooler to the touch than traditional pillowcases
  • It felt smooth and cozy against my skin

Things to Consider

  • Pillowcases start at $14.95
  • Those who prefer a warmer pillowcase may not care for this texture

Bonus: Use code WickedSleeper to save 15 percent off your order.

Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner Animal 2

If you have a pet, you need a vacuum that will clean the hair and dander and will perform for you every single time. We’ve owned Dyson products for close to 30 years. The Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner Animal 2 deep cleans and has the AAFA certified seal of approval.

We use the tangle-free turbine tool to remove dog hair from carpets and upholstery without tangling. Dyson’s cyclone technology captures more microscopic dust than any other’s cyclone. The reason I hesitated using a bagless vacuum cleaner for years had to do with the fear of expelling particles back into the air.

This model’s whole-machine filtration ensures that allergens are trapped inside the machine, not expelled back into the home. Since AAFA gave it their seal of approval, I take comfort in using this vacuum several times a week for pet hair and dander.

Things I Like

  • Self-adjusting cleaner head that automatically adjusts between carpets and hard floors 
  • Super strong suction power
  • Picks up more debris than any vacuum I’ve ever owned
  • Long-reach hose so I can vacuum beneath furniture without moving it
  • Motorized brush bar goes deep into carpeting to pull up pet dander
  • Dr. John MKeon of Allergy Standard Limited told us, “Regular vacuuming is a good practice to help reduce the level of dust and allergens from indoor surfaces and vacuuming soft furnishings can help to remove animal dander.”

Things to Consider

  • We had our Dyson serviced once because it developed an odor. The repair shop said from time to time the unit should be professionally cleaned out.
  • Thread or string from your floor may occcasionally wrap around the vacuum roller, so check that now and then

Guardsman Dusting Cloths

These specially treated, residue-free cloths trap and lock-in dust without using extra cleansers of cleaners. We’ve been the Guardsman dusting cloths to dust in our home for years. I keep a pack in the office so I have easy access to clean my desk and computer area.

The super-soft cotton flannel material doesn’t scratch furniture. You can easily toss these in the washing machine and air dry.

Things I Like

  • No need to use irritating chemicals or cleaners that may irritate you and your dog
  • Easy to use on furniture, blinds, appliances, auto interiors, cabinets and paneling, glass and mirrors, ceiling fans, walls and railings.
  • They wash and wear well, time after time.
  • Can be attached to a Swiffer or other floor sweeper. Just fold in half, wrap around the sweeper, and attach as appropriate. 

Things to Consider

  • A bit pricey for a pack of six but you save in the long run
  • Do not put these in the dryer and especially not with static prevention sheets

Sweat X Free and Clear Detergent

In addition to pet allergies, I am very sensitive to dyes and perfumes. The Sweat X Free & Clear Activewear Detergent is the first detergent ever to be certified by the AAHA. It is non-toxic and biodegradable and free of any brighteners, dyes, or perfumes.

I’ve tried this detergent over the past month and I have had no allergic reaction to it. Best of all, it removes sweat, body odor, any strong armpit smells, and really keeps clothes looking their best. It is tough on odors and stains but seems gentle enough to for sensitive skin like mine.

Things I Like

  • Gets rid of tough stains like dirt, mudh, wine, and paw marks
  • Feels gentle on clothes and doesn’t irritate the skin
  • Rinses through even the most tightly woven fabrics
  • Washes away odor-causing bacteria without masking perfumes
  • Safe to use on pet apparel, blankets, and bedding

Things to Consider

  • It can be hard to find in retail stores, so we bought ours on Amazon
  • Can be used as a soaking solution for shoes and other gear with tough odors
  • Higher price point than other detergents

Endust Fragrance Free HypoAllergenic Dusting and Cleaning Spray

We like to use a hypo-allergenic product to remove stubborn marks, fingerprints, and heavy dust anywhere in the house. Think dining room tables and ceiling fans. I can’t handle most furniture sprays because I cough, and they irritate the dog.

Endust’s silicone-free cleaning and dusting spray is AAFA certified and leaves a natural shine without and residue buildup. Over the past year, I’ve used this product on wood, paneling, cabinets, the interior of the car, window sills, and non-fabric blinds.

Things I Like

  • Contains no irritating scents or perfumes that may bother people or pets
  • Gets rid of smudges and fingerprints with very little product
  • Narrow stream directs itself exactly where you want it to go and not all over the place
  • Reduces allergens on surfaces and in the air

Things to Consider

  • Hard to find in some retail stores, so we choose to buy it on Amazon
  • Do not use it on hardwood floors to prevent slippery surfaces
  • The can is aerosol

Filtrete AC Furnace Air Filter

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and furnace filters are vital to climate control systems, which are used in many homes, including mine.

With the movement of air from these systems comes the potential to move allergens and irritants as well. This is why it is important to change filters every 30-90 days. We use the Filtrete MPR 1900 brand because it is AAFA certified and has a 3-in-1 technology from 3M to trap unwanted air particles while allowing cleaner airflow to pass through.

Things I Like

  • Attracts and captures tiny particles like smoke, sneeze debris, cough debris, viruses, and bacteria
  • Each filter lasts up to three months
  • Captures 93 percent of large particles like mold spores, dust, and pollen from the air passing through the filter
  • Captures pet allergens, house dust mite allergen, pollen, and general small particles

Things to Consider

  • Expensive but worth it
  • Be sure you know where your filter is located and how to change it first
  • Best value is in a six-pack

Final Thoughts On Keeping Pet Dander Out Of Your Home

Before purchasing any products for the home that claim they will reduce pet dander, check the AAFA’s lists of certified asthma and allergy-friendly products.

Dr. John McKeon, CEO and founder of Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), says, “The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program was created in 2006 to give consumers confidence that the products they buy have been tested to make sure they improve the indoor air environment.”

Thankfully, they have 46 certification standards that cover 17 different categories of products and services that can have an impact on indoor air quality.

Further Reading On Pet Allergies

If you have a dog who you suspect has food allergies, read our article on dealing with food allergies in dogs.

Some dog breeds are hypoallergenic, so find out here if the Cocker Spaniel is hypoallergenic.

How to reduce dog dander in the home

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