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Action Steps to Reduce Asthma and Allergies


First, know what triggers your or your children’s asthma or allergies. Talk to a doctor or nurse about keeping emergency medicine around if your asthma or allergies are severe. If someone you love takes asthma or allergy medications make sure they know when to take it.

Healthy Housekeeping

Clean your home often
. Since cleaning puts dust into the air, have someone without asthma or allergies do it. Wear a dust mask if you can’t find somebody else to clean. You can buy one at a drug store.


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Keep clutter down. Clutter collects dust and makes it harder to keep a clean home. Store your belongings in plastic or cardboard boxes instead of keeping them in piles or stacks. You can move the boxes to make cleaning easier.


Air cleaners may help in the bedrooms of allergy and asthma patients. Good air cleaners (with HEPA filters) often cost $100 or more. Do not use an air cleaner that makes ozone because ozone can cause health problems.

Keep flooring clean. Hard floors (vinyl, wood, or tile) are often easier to keep dust-free. If you do have rugs or carpet, vacuum often. Consider using a vacuum with a special HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) filter to get rid of dust.


Keep Down Dust Mites


Use zippered plastic mattress and pillow covers beneath sheets and pillowcases. You can buy them at your local department store or through the Internet. If the mattress cover is uncomfortable, put a mattress pad over it.


Wash bedding, including blankets, pillow covers, and mattress pads in hot water every week. Temperatures above 130ºF kill dust mites.

Control Other Pests

Roaches and rodents can trigger asthma and allergies. They need food, water, warmth, and shelter to survive. You can control roaches, mice, and other pests by making these things hard to get. Here are some tips to keep pests away:


• Store food in tightly sealed containers.
• Clean up crumbs and spills right away.
• Empty your garbage often.
• Wash your dirty dishes right after eating.
• Don’t leave out pet food or water overnight.
• Fix plumbing leaks and drips.
• Seal cracks where roaches and other bugs hide or get into your home.


Furry pets like dogs, cats, and gerbils can cause asthma and allergy attacks because of their saliva and skin flakes. It is best to either not have pets or keep them outside. If you do have pets inside, make sure to keep them out of sleeping areas and off fabric-covered furniture.

Check Your Appliances

Make sure your gas appliances, fireplace, furnace, or wood-burning stove have yearly checkups to keep down soot or smoke (and protect you from the dangers of carbon monoxide).


Check the filter on your furnace or air conditioner a couple times each year. Change when needed. Think about buying filters that cost a little more than the most economical ones. They will clean the air in your home better. They trap more dust so you will need to change them more often. You can buy air filters at a department, hardware or home improvement store. Check labels and packaging to find out about these products. If you rent, talk to your landlord about these steps.


The Healthy House Institute (HHI) wishes to thank one of its early education supporters and sponsors: filter-provider 3M Filtrete. (Not an endorsement by HHI).

Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke causes health problems, especially for people with asthma. It is best to quit smoking (contact the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA for help).


Otherwise, smoke outside and away from children. Don’t light up in your car, because smoke will linger there and affect children.


When people breathe in mold, it can cause allergies and asthma to act up. Mold needs water to grow. Keep your home dry to control mold. That will also help with roaches and dust mites.


Source: The Healthy Homes Partnership, HUD Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, USDA-NIFA and Dr. Joe Ponessa, professor emeritus at Rutgers University Extension.


HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

Action Steps to Reduce Asthma and Allergies:  Created on May 26th, 2011.  Last Modified on February 1st, 2012


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About HUD

The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all Americans. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and



Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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