Control Asthma Triggers at Home

Even the cleanest homes can have common asthma triggers, like dust mites, molds, pollens, pets, cockroaches, and household chemicals. But you have many ways to control these potential problems and prevent asthma flares.

How can I protect against dust mites?

1. Put pillows, mattresses, and box springs inside allergen-proof, zippered covers.

2. Wash all bedding in hot water about once a week.

3. Non-carpeted flooring is best. If you can’t get rid of your carpets, vacuum often with a multi-layer, allergen-proof vacuum bag. It’s best to get someone else to do the vacuuming and stay clear of the area while it’s happening. But if you have to do your own sweeping, wear a mask while you work. If your child has asthma, don’t vacuum while she’s in the room. You can also buy products that get dust mites out of carpets. Ask your asthma care team to recommend some.

4. Regularly change filters on heaters and air conditioners.

5. Replace heavy, lined curtains or drapes with washable window coverings. Wash them in hot water. Use plain window shades instead of mini-blinds.

6. Dust often and everywhere, including lampshades and windowsills, with a damp cloth.

7. Keep clutter under control. Store toys and books in closed bookshelves, drawers, or closets.

8. Replace traditional stuffed animals with those you can wash.

9. Put all clothing in drawers and closets, and keep them closed.

10. Cover air ducts with filters or cheesecloth. Change them when they get dirty.

11. Don’t buy pillows and bedding made with feathers.

How do I stop mold and mildew?

1. Air out damp, humid areas often. Run a dehumidifier to keep humidity between 25% and 50%.

2. Use air conditioners when you can.

3. Clean bathrooms regularly with products that kill and prevent mold. Use exhaust fans to vent steam after a hot shower. Don’t put carpet the bathroom.

4. Keep indoor plants out of bedrooms.

5. When you paint your home, add mold inhibitor to the paint to prevent mold from growing.

6. Avoid places where outdoor molds can grow, such as wet leaves or garden debris.


How do I control insects?

Many homes and apartments have cockroaches and other insects. Some people with asthma are allergic to them. To control these pests:

1. Use roach baits or traps.

2. If you use insect sprays, spray them only when no one else is at home. Let your house air out for a couple of hours before you come back.

How can I avoid pollen?

It's everywhere, so it’s tough to avoid completely. But you can cut down on how much you’re around it:

1. Pollen counts are highest early in the morning, especially on warm, dry days. Limit how much you or your child do outdoors during these times.

2. Keep windows closed during pollen seasons.

3. Use air conditioning if you can.

How do I protect myself against asthma triggers from pets?

1. It’s best not to own any pets if you or your child is highly allergic. Definitely stay away from any animals that you know you’re allergic to.

2. Try to avoid long visits to the homes of friends and family who have pets. If you do drop by, make sure you or your child takes asthma medicines beforehand. Try to spend as little time around the animals as you can while you’re there.

3. If you do have a cat or dog in the home, try to limit the places where it can go. It shouldn’t be allowed in  your child's bedroom or yours, for instance.

4. Wash the animal weekly.

5. Remove as much carpet as you can. Animal dander builds up in the fibers and stays there, even after the pet is gone.


How do I avoid chemicals in the air?

1. Try not to use aerosol sprays, paint, and cleaning products with heavy odors when you’re at home. Make sure your house has the right ventilation. Wear a mask or handkerchief over your mouth when you clean, dust, vacuum, sweep, or work in the yard.

2. Don’t use perfumes, scented lotions, or other strong-smelling products that may irritate your lungs.

3. Avoid wood smoke.

4. If you live in an area where air pollution is a problem, limit your time outdoors when the pollution counts are high.

5. Use an exhaust fan when you cook to remove smoke and odors.

How can I protect my child from tobacco smoke?

1. If you smoke, quit -- if not for yourself, for your child. If your spouse or other family members smoke, help them understand why it’s harmful, and encourage them to quit.

2. Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home, car, or when they’re around your child.

3. Choose smoke-free places to go with your family. Avoid restaurants and public areas that allow smoking.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on October 20, 2017



Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Allergic Asthma Triggers."

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: "Tips to Remember: Indoor Allergies."

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.