U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Prevent Allergy and Asthma Attacks at Home

The Basics

Some things in your home can make allergies and asthma worse. If someone in your family has allergies or asthma, take steps to make your home a healthier place.

How can I prevent allergy and asthma attacks at home?
Start by getting rid of these common causes of attacks:

  • Mold or dampness
  • Dust mites (tiny bugs that live in dust)
  • Pets with fur, including cats and dogs
  • Cockroaches (roaches and their droppings may cause asthma)
  • Rodents (mice and rats)
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Wood smoke

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Take Action!

Take Action!

Follow these simple steps to make your home a healthier place for people with allergies or asthma.

Start in the bedroom.

  • Cover your mattresses and pillows in “dust proof” covers.
  • Keep stuffed animals off the bed.
  • Keep pets, especially ones with fur, out of the bedroom.
  • If possible, remove all carpets. It’s easier to keep bare floors clean.
  • Wash all your bedding in very hot water (at least 130°F) once a week. Go to a laundromat if the water in your home doesn't get that hot.

Control moisture to prevent mold.
Keep your home dry to prevent mold. Mold can start to grow in wet or damp places within just 1 or 2 days.

  • If you have a water leak, clean up the water right away. Fix the leak as soon as possible.
  • When you take a shower, run the bathroom fan or open the window.
  • Check the humidity level in your home with a moisture or humidity meter (available at a hardware store).
  • Use a de-humidifier or air conditioner to keep the humidity level in your home below 60 percent. A humidity level between 30 and 50 percent is best.

Get more tips on preventing and cleaning up mold.

What if the air in my home is too dry?
While moist (wet) air can lead to mold, dry air can be uncomfortable.

If the air in your home is dry in the winter, you can use a humidifier. Just be sure to still keep the humidity level between 30 and 50 percent.

Keep pests out of your home.
Rodents (mice and rats) and cockroaches can trigger asthma attacks. Take these steps to help prevent pests:

  • Fix leaks in sinks and toilets.
  • Put trays under your plants, radiators, and refrigerator. Check the trays for water and clean them often.
  • Store food (including pet food) in closed containers.
  • Clean up crumbs and spills right away.
  • Fill in cracks or holes that could be good indoor hiding places for pests.
  • Put screens in your windows and doors.
  • If you see roaches or rodents, call a pest control company.

Make a no-smoking rule in your home.
Cigarette smoke, including secondhand smoke, can cause an asthma attack. Ask your guests to smoke outside. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today.

Avoid burning wood inside your home.
Breathing too much smoke from a wood-burning stove or fireplace can cause an asthma attack. If you can avoid it, don’t burn wood in your home.

If you need to use a wood stove or fireplace, check out these tips on how to reduce the smoke.

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