U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Menu

Prevent Allergy and Asthma Attacks at Home

The Basics

If someone in your family has allergies or asthma, make your home a healthier place by getting rid of the things that can cause an allergy or asthma attack. This can help make attacks less likely.

What can cause an allergy or asthma attack?
Things that can cause an allergy or asthma attack are called allergens and irritants. Different people will react to different allergens and irritants.

Common causes of allergy and asthma attacks at home include:

  • 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

Learn more about allergens and irritants

Take Action!

Take Action!

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

Find out what causes your allergy or asthma attacks. 
Ask your doctor about getting an allergy test. This test can help you know what exactly is causing your allergies. Learn more about allergy tests.

If you or someone in your family has asthma, it’s important to figure out what can trigger (cause) an asthma attack. Asthma triggers can be different for different people. Learn more about asthma triggers.

When you know what you are allergic to – or what your asthma triggers are – you can take steps to get rid of or avoid those things in your home.

Keep allergens and irritants out of the bedroom.

  • Cover your mattresses and pillows in “dust proof” covers.
  • Keep stuffed animals off the bed.
  • If you have pets that you are allergic to (like cats or dogs), keep them 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 allergy or asthma attacks if you are allergic to them. 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 make asthma worse. And babies who live in homes where people smoke are at higher risk of developing asthma. 

If you have guests who smoke, ask them 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.

Expand to Full Page

Start Today: Small Steps