Reduce Your Exposure to Asthma Triggers

Disinfection

For many people with asthma, cleaning products and disinfectants can be triggers for asthma exacerbations.

When using cleaners or disinfectants in the home, remember:

  • Carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions when using any cleaning products.
  • People with asthma should try to stay away when cleaners are being used in the home and immediately following their use.
  • Open doors and windows when using cleaning products.
  • Avoid using sprays and aerosols. Instead, apply the product to cloth or paper towel first.
  • Wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles.
  • Avoid disturbing dust because it can be an asthma trigger.

To learn more about cleaning to prevent illness, see Cleaning and Disinfecting your Home

Mold

Indoor mold growth is often found in damp areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, or in areas where water damage has occurred. There are many types of mold which can be found in any climate. Mold can be a trigger for people with asthma, so it is important to remove it safely.

To reduce mold exposure in the home:

  • Dry damp or wet items within 24 to 48 hours to avoid mold growth.
  • Fix water leaks, such as leaky plumbing, as soon as possible.
  • Replace absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, if mold is present.
  • Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to maintain low indoor humidity.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Dry completely.
  • Empty and clean refrigerator and air conditioner drip pans regularly.
  • Run the bathroom exhaust fan or open the window when showering

To learn more about mold cleanup in the home after a flood see Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters

Pests (e.g., cockroaches, mice):

  • Keep counters, sinks, tables, and floors clean and free of clutter.
  • Clean dishes, crumbs, and spills right away.
  • Store food in airtight containers.
  • Seal cracks or openings in cabinets, walls, baseboards, and around plumbing.
  • Keep trash in a closed container.
  • Use pesticide baits and traps in areas away from children and pets, following manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Avoid using sprays and foggers as these can cause asthma attacks.

Dust Mites

  • Use allergen-proof mattress and pillowcase covers.
  • Wash bedding weekly.
  • Vacuum carpets, area rugs, and floors regularly. If possible, the person with asthma should stay out of rooms while they are vacuumed, swept, or dusted.
  • Keep relative humidity levels in the home low, around 30- 50%.

Pet Fur

  • For individuals who are allergic to pets, the best way to decrease asthma symptoms is to remove the pet from the home and thoroughly clean all surfaces in the home.
  • If a pet cannot be removed from the home of someone who is allergic decrease exposure by:
    • Keeping pets out of bedrooms,
    • Washing furry pets,
    • Using an air cleaner with HEPA filter, and
    • Use allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers.

To learn more about cleaning up household asthma triggers see the Home Characteristics and Asthma Triggers Checklist for Home Visitors pdf icon[PDF – 930 KB]

Page last reviewed: May 7, 2020