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Cleaning and Maintaining a Home to Reduce Asthma Triggers

By AAFA

After new construction, remodeling or renovations, it’s a good idea to have your home professionally cleaned to remove any remaining dust, debris, fumes or other triggers before you move in. But when cleaning and maintaining your home on your own, consider the tips below to help keep triggers at bay.

 

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Dusting
  • Use slightly moist cloths or special dry cloths to trap and remove dirt on hard surfaces.
  • Avoid a feather duster as it will tend to spread dust and allergens, rather then remove them.
Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum cleaners can be useful tools in managing indoor asthma triggers, but make sure you are not using a machine that spews more allergens and irritants than it removes.

  • Make sure you use a vacuum that has effective pick-up of allergens from floor surfaces.
  • Make sure the vacuum has a HEPA filter and that it has tight seams and seals so particles don’t leak out while vacuuming.
  • Make sure the vacuum creates only minimal exposure to vacuumed particles during canister emptying whether it’s a bag or bagless model.
Cleaning Solvents

Cleaning sprays can be helpful or harmful depending on their ingredients and uses.

  • Try to find products with little to no chemical smells, scents or odors, no VOCs or gases and other potential irritants
Pesticides

Although rodents and insects are common household asthma triggers, using some pesticides to kill them isn’t necessarily good either.

  • Talk to an exterminator about traps and solvents that are more suitable for people with asthma.
Room-by-Room Tips
Bedroom

Pet dander can settle on bed linens and becomes food for dust mites. And even if you don't have an animal, pillows and blankets in the bedroom are frequently homes for mold and dust mites. In particular, mold is frequently found in mattresses and pillows and releases spores that can trigger asthma symptoms. You can minimize this by:

  • Using special mite-proof bedding including mattress/pillow encasings.
  • Wash sheets once a week in 130-degree hot water to kill dust mites and their eggs, and use bleach when washing to kill mold [use plenty of ventilation].
  • Never allow pets on the bed.
  • Never allow wet or moist clothing to pile up.
  • Don’t eat in the bed.
  • Keep pet sleeping areas and/or bird cages out of bedrooms.
  • Replace mattresses every ten years.
  • Vacuum floors and furniture weekly.
Kitchen

Cockroaches can be one of the main sources of allergens in the kitchen. Their droppings and even their microscopic sheddings are believed to be among the most common allergens.  Mold also finds its way into the kitchen, frequently turning up under the sink, refrigerator, dishwasher and other damp spaces where it thrives. Ways to keep asthma triggers out of the kitchen include:

  • Never leaving food or garbage out to attract roaches.
  • Storing food in airtight containers in or out of the refrigerator.
  • Wiping the stovetop right after cooking to remove food particles that attract insects, and moisture that can lead to mold.
  • Removing crumbs and/or spilled items on countertops right away.
  • Washing dishes immediately after eating; don’t pile in the sink.
  • Using a covered/sealed trash can in the kitchen.
  • Keeping stovetop items covered, and use the kitchen fan when cooking to keep steam and moisture from condensing on kitchen surfaces.
  • Using easy-to-clean kitchen flooring, and wash floor mats weekly to remove small food particles.
  • Using electric appliances where possible; otherwise, keep all gas appliance properly serviced.
Bathroom

Warm damp environments are breeding grounds for mold. As in the kitchen, you can often find it under the bathroom sink, as well as in the shower and on shower doors, towels, floor mats and tiles. Tips for removing allergens in the bathroom include:

  • Removing mold as soon as you see it anywhere in the bathroom.
  • Fixing leaky pipes under the sink, in the shower/tub, and behind the toilet.
  • Using a fan/vent when showering to keep air circulating and reducing moisture.
  • Using washable floor mats, and washing them weekly.
  • Washing the “show towels” and bath towels weekly to remove any mold spores.
  • Wiping the sink and counter each day to remove puddles of water and moisture.
  • Avoiding scented products like potpourri or air fresheners.
Living Room

Dust mites find their way into furniture as easily as they do into beds: they lay eggs in upholstery and the carpet, and leave droppings and sheddings. Mold, too, can grow on upholstered furniture, as well as on curtains, drapes and carpeting. And although home scents and wood-burning fireplaces can give your living room a cozy ambience and appearance, they both release particles and chemicals that can irritate the airways. Tips for removing triggers in the living room include:

  • Vacuuming furniture, curtains and drapes once a week.
  • Using washable slip covers and cushions, and wash in 130-degree hot water once a week.
  • Keeping pets off of the furniture.
  • Using easy-to-clean flooring, and avoiding carpeting where moisture can get trapped and encourage mold growth.
  • Using blinds and other easy-to-clean window treatments, or washing and drying curtains once a month.
  • Never eating on the floor or on furniture where crumbs can attract roaches.
  • Avoiding wood burning fireplaces as well as kerosene heaters.
  • Avoiding candles and air fresheners.

 

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Cleaning and Maintaining a Home to Reduce Asthma Triggers:  Created on October 6th, 2011.  Last Modified on May 14th, 2013

 

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About AAFA

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 www.aafa.org.

 

 

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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