Hidden Home Asthma Triggers

This content has been clinically reviewed by Ann-Marie Brooks, M.D.

If you’ve got a child with asthma, you’re probably always on the lookout for triggers. But did you know that some of the strongest asthma triggers, like sneaky dust mites, mold and pet dander, can hide out in your home? These lesser-known indoor air pollutants might be making your child’s asthma symptoms worse.

Asthma-Proof Your Home

While it’s impossible to rid your home of every asthma-inducing dust bunny, you can eliminate or reduce many triggers.

These tips can help:

  • Start with the floor. Banish carpeting where you can, but especially in your child’s room. Carpets (and rugs and upholstered furniture) are magnets for dust mites, those microscopic bugs that dine on flakes of human skin. Yuck! They’re a potent allergen that’s one of the most common triggers of asthma.
  • Vacuum and dust often. Use a damp cloth to avoid spreading dust mites in the air, and opt for a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • If you have rugs, go with throw rugs that can be washed weekly.
  • Make sure window coverings in your home are washable. Avoid blinds with slats that catch dust and curtains that need to be dry cleaned.
  • Choose a sofa that you can wipe down, like leather or faux leather.
  • Put mite-proof mattress and pillow covers (available at department stores) on any bed your child sleeps in. Avoid feather or down pillows—choose synthetic materials instead.
  • Limit plush toys and stuffed animals. If your child has these, toss them in the wash often, and keep them off the bed.
  • Store dust-collecting books outside your child’s bedroom.
  • Avoid running a humidifier, especially in your child’s room. Moisture allows dust mites and mold to flourish.
  • Animals are big asthma triggers—as many as 30 percent of people with asthma are allergic to one or more animals. And no pet is entirely hypoallergenic. If you already have a pet, try to keep it out of your child’s room. Wash and brush your pet every week. Have your child wash his hands after touching the family pet.
  • Cockroaches are a major asthma trigger, but they can be difficult to avoid. If you have cockroaches, have your home professionally exterminated regularly.
  • To reduce mold, make sure your bathrooms are well ventilated. Replace moldy shower curtains. Use anti-mildew paint when painting bathrooms. Clean existing mold with detergent and water.
  • On days with high pollen and mold counts or high air pollution, keep the windows closed and run the air conditioning.
  • Change the filter of your air conditioner and furnace regularly and clean the air ducts.

Scents and Fumes Can Trigger Asthma Attacks

Air pollution isn’t just a problem outside the home for asthma sufferers. Scents and fumes from air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, candles, incense and other products used in the house can also trigger asthma attacks. To keep the air clean inside your home:

Following these tips can help make your home a healthier and more comfortable place for everyone in the family.

Learn more about Pulmonology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.