Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on January 02, 2020
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Wash Your Bed Linens Every Week

Dust mites are the most common trigger of allergic asthma attacks. The bugs love to burrow in sheets, blankets, comforters, and pillows. Clear them out by washing your sheets in hot water (about 130 F) at least once a week. Then pop them in a hot dryer for a full cycle.

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Cover Mattresses and Box Springs

Mattresses, box springs, and some blankets and comforters can’t be washed. To protect them from dust mites, use special covers for mattresses and pillows. They provide a sturdy wall between you and these pests. It helps to have covers you can close with a zipper, then seal the zipper further with electrical or duct tape. Don’t rely on hypoallergenic bedding for protection. It doesn’t keep dust mites away.

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Go for Smooth, Hard Surfaces

Dust mites may love hanging out in soft bed linen, but they hate smooth surfaces. If you can, do away with upholstered couches and chairs and go for wood or vinyl instead. Also get rid of rugs and carpets, and replace them with wood, laminate, or tile. Even if dust mites do gather on these hard floor surfaces, they’re easier to clean with a damp mop. If you do keep your carpets, vacuum religiously.

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Clean Up After Cockroaches

If you find any cockroach droppings in your home, get rid of them ASAP. They can trigger an asthma attack. Better yet, stop the critters from getting inside in the first place. Keep all food in the fridge or in airtight containers, sweep or vacuum the kitchen and dining room regularly, and keep a lid on indoor trash cans. If all else fails, use poison baits or boric acid to kill them.

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Think About Your Pet

Some pets can trigger allergic asthma attacks, mainly cats, dogs, and other furry animals. The fur’s not the problem. It’s dead skin cells, saliva, and urine. Many people with this type of asthma choose not to have pets. Others have them but try to limit them to a few rooms of the house. Keep them out of bedrooms and off any upholstered furniture. Also bathe them once or twice a week.

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Give Stuffed Toys a Bath

The teddy bear and other stuffed friends that your child loves? Dust mites may love them even more. Limit the number of toys in their room. Also wash them regularly, following the same routine that you do with sheets. If a stuffed toy isn’t washable, stick it in the freezer for 24 hours once per week to kill dust mites, then vacuum it.

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Don’t Let Anyone Smoke Inside

Cigarette smoke can trigger an asthma attack in anyone. It can also make attacks worse and even cause someone to get asthma. Children are more sensitive to it because their lungs aren’t mature yet and because they breathe faster, so they inhale more smoke than adults in a short period of time. Make sure no one smokes in or near your house, or in any cars. Even thirdhand smoke (the smell on someone’s clothes) can make asthma worse.

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Avoid Wood Fires

Smoke from wood fires sends out all kinds of tiny particles that can trigger attacks. If your child has asthma, it’s best not to build this type of fire. If you must burn one, use only dry logs that have been stored under cover for at least 6 months. 

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Keep Your Home Dry

Along with dust mites, mold is the other main enemy of anyone with allergic asthma. It grows easily in warm, humid places like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Make sure you don’t have any water in refrigerator drip trays or shower stalls. Fix leaks in sinks and tubs, and use a dehumidifier to keep the atmosphere dry. Air conditioners also cut down on humidity. Bonus: When you keep things dry, you will also discourage dust mites.

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Choose Filters and Vacuums Carefully

Many vacuums and air filters say they help you avoid allergens, but not all are created equal. Remember that air filters can only do so much. They may cut pet dander and pollen, but some of those triggers may stick around in rooms with carpet and soft furniture. These devices may help more in rooms where you have wood or vinyl surfaces. Vacuums with HEPA filters do cut some allergens. Use them for carpets, rugs, and furniture.