Pet dander — the dried skin that flakes off your pets — can be a huge problem for those suffering from animal allergies. They can become suspended in your home’s air and then breathed into your lungs.
In addition, the proteins found in your pet’s saliva, urine and feces can also become airborne — adding to the allergens in your environment.
You can take several measures to help reduce the pet dander in your living space. However, the most effective measure is investing in air purifiers, specifically designed to remove ultrafine particles from your environment.
Research thoroughly and choose an air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter for the best results.
If you have a pet at home, chances are your home is covered in fur and pet dander. This can cause health issues such as allergic reactions and asthma.
According to this 2018 study, dog and cat allergies affect 10—20% of the population globally — giving you even more reason to deal with the pet dander that may accumulate in your home.
Since dander can cause a huge problem for allergy and asthma sufferers, minimizing the dander in your environment is essential.
There are several ways that you can do this:
1. Keep Your House Clean
Carpets, furniture, and curtains can all hold onto pet dander. Use a soft cloth to clean surfaces and a HEPA filter vacuum on carpets twice per week at a minimum.
|Pro tip: A lint roller can be highly effective on soft furnishings. There are two choices when it comes to lint rollers: disposable or reusable. If you want a disposable roller, we recommend the Scotch-Brite Lint Roller. If you prefer a reusable lint roller, then the ChomChom Pet Hair Roller is our fave.|
2. Get Rid of the Carpet
Pet dander can quickly accumulate in the carpet and be hard to clean up. Switching to a hardwood or linoleum floor will make it harder for pet dander to build up and be much easier to clean with a rag or a mop.
3. Declutter Your Space
The more clutter you have around your home, the more pet dander can build up in hard-to-reach areas. Be sure to put things away rather than allowing them to accumulate around your home; cleaning up any pet dander will be a far smoother process.
4. Give Your Pet a Brush and Bath
Regularly brushing, and weekly baths can help to reduce the dander in your pet’s fur and ensure that it isn’t in the air of your home.
|Pro tip: While you can use special pet shampoos, Dawn dish soap or baby shampoo can also be effective.|
5. Keep Your Pets Out of the Bedroom
While we all love to know that our pets are comfortable, being in bed with you is not the most sensible idea if you have allergies.
|Pro tip: If they are in your room with you, washing your sheets and your pets’ toys at a high temperature (130ºF) weekly and using mattress and pillow covers can help reduce the amount of dander.|
6. Clean Your Air Ducts
You should regularly schedule a professional cleaning of your air ducts. Not only will this remove pet dander that has built up over time, but it will also ensure that anything else trapped there is cleaned away.
7. Invest in an Air Purifier
One of the things air purifiers are really good at is removing pet dander from your environment. This is because the device has a series of filters designed to catch and filter out contaminants from your environment.
The best air purifiers for pet dander
Pet dander is a 2.5μm particle. This type of small particle can be removed using a HEPA-based filter, which is effective at removing small particles, including virus particles that measure 0.1 μm.
Remember that if you are also interested in pet odor removal, you will also want an air purifier that includes an activated carbon filter, as HEPA is useless for gasses and odors.
|What is pet dander (and why is it an issue?)|
Pet dander is a combination of dead skin and hair produced by animals (usually cats and dogs). All animals shed skin — including humans. However, animals with either fur or feathers produce tiny flecks of skin known as dander. While the human eye can perceive some, others are microscopic.
When an animal sheds its dander it ends up in the air, which can then either be inhaled or stuck to a nearby surface. However, when that surface is disturbed, the dander will become airborne again, so the cycle continues.
If you have allergies, pet dander can be a huge trigger. The signs that you may be suffering from an allergic reaction to pet dander include:
❌ Watery or itchy eyes
❌ Runny or stuffy nose
❌ Coughing and wheezing
❌ Tightness in the chest or shortness of breath
This is because pet dander contains a protein (Fel d 1) that can trigger allergic reactions in some people. The protein is microscopic and can remain in your atmosphere for hours before inhaling into your lungs. Its presence can even continue to be detected for six months!
This study from 2018 showed that over 99.7% U.S. homes had the Fel d 1 protein in their carpets, sofas and beds — and some of those homes didn’t have cats!
So why do our immune systems react to these allergen triggers?
When pet dander, dried saliva, feces dust, or urine enters your system, the body creates an immune system response and reacts to the foreign bodies (antigens) like germs.
It produces an antibody that has the sole job of specifically targeting the antigen. The antibody will begin stimulating mast cells the next time your immune system comes in contact, and allergy symptoms will occur.
If you suffer from allergies caused by animals, you are most likely reacting to an allergic reaction to both their pet dander and the protein found in their saliva, urine, and feces. When these become airborne in your environment, it enters your body and stimulates an immune response — resulting in an allergic reaction.
While there are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of pet dander in your home – regular cleaning, decluttering surfaces, brushing and washing your pets regularly, to name a few — the most effective thing you can do is invest in an air purifier.
As air purifiers have a series of fine filters designed to remove ultrafine particles from your environment, these can help reduce the pet dander and pet-related allergens in your home and relieve your allergy symptoms.
American Lung Association. (2023). Pet Dander. lung.org
Bonnet, B et al. (2018). An Update On Molecular Cat Allergens: Fel D 1 And What Else? Chapter 1: Fel D 1, The Major Cat Allergen. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Chan, S.K, Leung, D. (2018). Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Cleveland Clinic. (2022). How To Reduce Pet Dander To Help With Allergies. Health. clevelandclinic.org
National Air Duct Cleaners Association. (2018). Dealing with Pet Dander. nadca.com
Weller, C. (2023). Mast Cells. immunology.org
Last update on 2023-03-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API