You can blame the wetter and hotter than normal summer we had for the severe seasonal allergies you've been experiencing this fall, according to an article written by Rachael Rettner for MyHealthDaily.com. And while staying inside might keep you away from ragweed, it opens you up to whole other set of potential allergens. Dust, mold, and animal dander (three of the most common allergens), are more likely to be found indoors according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. One way to fight indoor allergens is to get rid of the surfaces that harbor them, such as carpets and upholstered furniture. But that's not terribly practical, so really your best defense is to thoroughly clean your home using a good vacuum cleaner that won't re-release the pesky irritants back into the air when it's emptied. (For tips on how to clean, check out an interview we did with HGTV's Sabrina Soto earlier this year).
For allergy sufferers, the most important feature of a vacuum is the filter. The gold standard for filtration is a high-efficiency particulate air filter, or HEPA filter. These filters are guaranteed to trap at least 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size. (A micron is one millionth of a meter.) HEPA filters are available in both bagless and bagging vacuums. However, for those who are sensitive to dust, a vacuum with a bag is always a better choice. While many bagless models do an excellent job of containing dust and other allergens, you'll be exposed to the dust when you empty the dirt cup and clean the filter. With a bagging vacuum, dust stays sealed inside the bag and goes directly into the trashcan. For even better protection, you can look for a vacuum with self-sealing bags, which prevent puffs of dirt from escaping when the bag is removed. The Miele S7580 Bolero (*Est. $800), a Best Reviewed pick in our recent report on upright vacuums, is one vacuum that has this feature.
Even the best vacuum in the world won't help if it isn't used properly. To get the best results with yours, here are some points to keep in mind: