Artificial Tree vs. Real Tree: Which Is Better For Allergy Sufferers?

What should you look for when purchasing an artificial tree?

  • If your family decides to go the artificial route, we recommend purchasing a tree made of molded polyethylene instead of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC.
  • Polyethylene, which is a type of moldable plastic, produces less off-gassing and better resembles a real tree. Regardless of which artificial tree you purchase, they aren’t necessarily the answer to completely removing holiday allergens because these too can be hosts to dust, mold and pollen, which are both major triggers prominently found in the Greater Houston Area.

What type of real tree should an allergy sufferer purchase?

  • Real trees are home to many mold spores and can trigger irritating day-to-day symptoms such as itchy and watery eyes, and a scratchy throat.
  • If pine pollen is an allergy trigger, try buying a fir, spruce or cypress tree.
  • The Leyland cypress is a sterile hybrid tree that does not produce any pollen.

How should I maintain my tree to make sure I remain allergy-free throughout the season?

  • Once you get the tree home or out of the box, maintaining throughout the holiday season is important if you want to remain allergy-free.
  • Both trees are susceptible to mold and collecting dust mites once in the home – so it’s important that you clean the tree thoroughly.
  • Cleaning a tree may sound labor intensive, but with approximately 95 million U.S. households having a tree, there’s a significant amount of allergy symptoms waiting to be triggered.

Here are tips on how to make sure your tree is home ready.

  • For real trees, simply shake the tree to remove any dead needles, unwanted dust or mold while still at the tree farm. Then, when you make it home, lightly spray the tree with water to get rid of the remaining pollen and mold. Finally let it sit overnight, or as long as possible, to ensure the tree completely dries prior to moving it inside.
  • For artificial trees, be sure to conduct a thorough wipe-down to get rid of any unwanted allergen triggers that may have settled their way into the branches while it was in storage. Simply using a damp cloth will do the trick – but remember, whether cleaning your fresh tree from the farm, or unpacking your artificial tree and ornaments, wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent any skin irritation.
  • As an added precaution, it never hurts to add a high-efficiency particulate air filter, also commonly known as a HEPA air filter, or purchase an air purifier for the home. These can come in handy year-round in Houston.

How should I store my artificial tree to prevent allergies next year?

  • When it’s all said and done, be mindful when storing your artificial trees. Many families tend to turn to cardboard storage boxes, but this can increase the number of allergens calling your tree home! Cardboard enhances the growth rate of mold, mildew, dust and many other allergens when stored in stagnant environments like attics and garages.
  • This year try to find a plastic container that completely seals off your tree and décor from outside allergens.

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