7 Ways to Reduce Asthma Triggers at Home

Man reaching for inhaler

May 31, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Maria Gonzalez, MSN, RN, AMB-BC

When your child has asthma, knowing which triggers cause wheezing and difficulty breathing may allow you to help them experience fewer asthma attacks.

“There are triggers that we can control, and there are others that are out of our control,” says Marie Gonzalez, MSN, RN, AMB-BC, clinical program manager of the Community Outreach for Asthma Care & Health (COACH) Program at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC). “The ones that we can control will hopefully decrease the recurrence of having asthma exacerbations, which would decrease the need to come to the emergency room.”

Here’s how to reduce common asthma triggers at home:

Eliminate carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpeting and throw rugs can trap dust mites, which may make it hard for someone with asthma to breathe. If possible, remove throw rugs and carpeting from your home. Otherwise, clean regularly, daily if there are pets.

“We strongly suggest that the parents vacuum at least once a week with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter, which will help remove the particles out of the rug,” Marie says.

Pull the drapes

Consider removing curtains and drapes, a good alternative is mini-blinds, especially in bedrooms.

“Less curtains and drapes result in less dust that is trapped in the room,” Marie says.

Protect the bed

Dust mites are present in pillows, mattresses, sheets and blankets. To minimize your child’s contact with dust mites, encase the pillow and mattress in protective covers. 

“Going into any retail store, you will see multiple mattress covers; there are specific ones for dust mites,” Marie says. “If they’re too expensive, a regular mattress cover would do fine – one that is encased [around the top and bottom of the mattress], not just [around the top] like a fitted sheet.”

Covers are fabric or vinyl. If you buy fabric covers, wash them weekly in hot water, along with the sheets.

Ban smoking at home

Cigarette smoke may trigger asthma attacks. If you must smoke, go outside.

“Wear a jacket or a covering that they can take off as soon as they come in, because the smoke stays on the person,” Marie says. “It’s recommended you take a shower because all that smoke is on you, even in your hair.”

Contact the New Jersey Quitline at 866-NJ-STOPS for advice about quitting.

Limit exposure to pets

People with asthma may have trouble breathing when they’re around pets. Some doctors ask families to give up their pets if a child has asthma, but there may be other options.

“The pet is part of the family, [so we try] to do things that would help the child have less contact with the animal,” Marie says. “This includes things like not letting the animal in the child’s room or keeping the animal downstairs. If the child is touching the animal, immediately wash their hands and face to prevent an asthma exacerbation.”

Anticipate seasonal allergies

Pollen may trigger asthma. If your child has allergies, speak with their pediatrician about a suitable medication that can be started before symptoms are severe.

“Allergies symptoms [are] something that we can minimize, because every year, we know allergy season is coming,” Marie says. “Allergy medication can help a lot.”

Skip harsh cleaning products

You may be inclined to clean often if your child has asthma, but the scent of many cleaning products may trigger attacks. Milder products, like vinegar and water, may minimize the problem.

“We have a recipe for sodium borate which is a scent-free paste that can be used to clean rather than a bleach-based product,” Marie says. “If bleach must be used, water it down and then open the window.”

Next Steps & Resources:


The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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