Turn Your Car Into a Hayfever Sanctuary
Fit an uprated cabin air filter
First off, check your cabin air filter. If it hasn’t been replaced in a while, it could be clogged up with all kinds of undesirables. Pollen, dust, dirt, dead insects, even leaves all collect in the paper filter, reducing its effectiveness and potentially transferring allergens into the passenger compartment.
These filters, which are also called pollen filters, should be replaced often, especially when you consider they are handling almost all the air that enters the interior.
While having the filter replaced, speak with your technician or service advisor, to see if you can upgrade the filter type. The least costly filters are generally made from a multi-fibre, pleated cotton paper-like material. Moving up to a carbon-activated filter will help in trapping more allergens, as well as better controlling the ingress of odours, industrial fumes and traffic pollutants.
How effective is a charcoal filter?
Recently, we were sitting in a parked car with a carbon cabin air filtering unit. Directly next to our vehicle, another motorist was smoking a cigarette. You could not detect even the slightest waft of this highly pervasive aroma. The charcoal is actively able to absorb and neutralise odours, with some able to sift out particulate matter that is 0.3 microns in size. Pollen grains are 10 to 40 microns, while human hair measures 50 microns. In other words, the tiny pores in the filter trap matter that is 166 times smaller than a human hair strand.
This Porsche Panamera had an active charcoal cabin filter system, as does this Porsche 911 Turbo S.
Going one step further, a handful of luxury car manufacturers offer the option of installing an air-ionising system. This technology charges moisture molecules floating in the air to cling to airborne particulate matter. This Mercedes-Benz GLS has an air purification system installed.
Here’s a video demonstrating its operation.
Choose the Recirculation Setting
Another tip to reduce hayfever symptoms while driving is to choose the recirculation setting on your car's air conditioning system. By doing so, you prevent new, potentially pollen-laden air from entering the vehicle. Instead, you're continually cooling and filtering the air already inside the cabin. This can make a big difference when you're driving through areas with high pollen levels or heavy traffic where exhaust fumes can exacerbate symptoms.
Try to get into the habit of ventilating your car before you set off. If the car has been sitting out in warm weather, it will be full of hot, stale air that could contain trapped pollen grains. Start the car, open the windows, and run the fan for a few minutes before you set off on your journey. This will help to get rid of any pollen that has settled in the car from the last time it was used. Once the old air is flushed out, close the windows and switch to the air conditioning.
Regularly Change Your Cabin Air Filter
No matter what type of cabin air filter you choose, it's crucial that you change it regularly. Even the highest-quality filters will lose their effectiveness over time as they become clogged with debris. The recommended replacement interval varies depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the driving conditions, but generally, it's a good idea to replace the cabin air filter at least once a year or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.
Seek Professional Advice
If you're still struggling with hayfever symptoms despite taking these precautions, it might be worth speaking to a healthcare professional. They can provide advice tailored to your specific symptoms and may be able to suggest medication or other treatments to help manage your hayfever.
More tips for banishing hayfever in your car
- Fill a small cosmetic bag with some allergy eye drops, a nasal spray recommended to you by your doctor, some of your anti-histamine medication and some facial wipes. This way, you can refresh after having spent time outside of the car. You’ll also then get the biggest gain from the conditioned air in the car. Also, maintain a supply of on-the-go tissue packs in your vehicle.
- Cabin air filter manufacturers also recommend to alleviate allergy symptoms, you should make sure the weather stripping and door seals are in good condition. Additionally, you must vacuum your interior regularly to remove potential allergens. They also suggest cleaning up spills as quickly as possible, to inhibit the growth of mildew.
- Use the air conditioning system, rather than rolling down windows, which lets in more pollen!