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Outfitting a Home


When outfitting or decorating your home, there are sensitive choices you can make if you have asthma. Selecting the right kinds of items to put into your house can help reduce your exposure to asthma triggers.


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  • Make sure to avoid unvented stoves of any kind (kerosene, wood or coal-burning) and gas space heaters.
  • Make sure proper ventilation minimizes back drafting when installing large appliances.
Finishes & Coatings
  • Look for low VOC or VOC-free products to keep irritants low when buying paints, stains, waxes, floor coatings, adhesives for certain flooring, wallpaper or carpeting, floor sealants, and other substances.
Window Treatments
  • Opt for blinds and shades rather than heavy drapes and curtains. Large fabric window treatments can easily trap dust, dirt and allergens and they are not easily cleaned. Wood blinds and simple shades do not promote as much allergen accumulation and can be more easily wiped and managed from week to week.
Room Air Filters
  • Consider using portable room air filters, in addition to whole-house HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems, to help remove allergens and irritants from the air. Not all devices are created equal, however, so first be sure to find portable air cleaners that have HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters.
  • Remember to clean or replace the HEPA filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions to keep it in working condition.
Mattresses, Pillows & Encasements
  • Use dust mite-resistant mattress and pillow encasements to keep dust mites from getting into the mattress/pillows.
  • Look for high-quality pillows that have mite barrier properties. Also make sure pillows can stand up to frequent washing to help reduce dust mites
  • Consider replacing mattresses every ten years and pillows every five years as millions of dust mites often live in them.
Plush Toys
  • Look for fabrics and fillings that contain no allergenic materials or irritating chemicals, dyes or preservatives.
  • Make sure to buy toys that can withstand frequent freezing and washing, as these are good ways to clean and remove allergens from plush toys.
  • Avoid if possible furniture and shelving made from chipboard or manufactured wood as these may contain formaldehyde and other VOCs, which may give off a colorless gas that can irritate the airways.
  • Keep soft surfaces dry and clean, and keep pets off furniture.
Washing Machines
  • Look for a washing machine that is able to reach a 130-degree hot water temperature to kill mites and eggs. 

Cat and dog dander can cause serious asthma symptoms for many people, but so can birds and other types of pets. Pets may also carry many outdoor allergens inside the house on their coats.

  • Never let your pet sleep on the beds or furniture: dog and cat dander are allergens.
  • Give your pets their own sleeping spaces, and make sure to wash pet bedding weekly. 
  • Try to wipe down pets after long walks to minimize the allergens they bring in to the house.
Indoor Plants

The most allergenic pollen comes from wind-pollinating plants, and some indoor plant pollen can be problematic.

  • Speak with garden experts at the local plant store to find the best plants for indoors. Note that planters, soil, tree trunks and old leaves can be hiding places for indoor mold.
  • Keep potting soil moist, but not soaked.
  • Wipe down plant leaves that are indoors regularly with a dry cloth.
  • Check for mold growth on the trunks of decorative indoor trees and wipe it off as soon as you find it.


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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.


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Outfitting a Home:  Created on September 2nd, 2011.  Last Modified on October 10th, 2011


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About AAFA


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is a leading national nonprofit organization fighting asthma and allergic diseases. AAFA provides free information, conducts educational programs, fights for patients’ rights, and funds research to find better treatments and cures. Visit



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