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Top 10 Allergy and Asthma Triggers in Your Home

You undoubtedly have at least some. Here's how to get rid of them.

By Robin Wilson

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and the official kickoff of spring and summertime wheezing and sneezing.

While you may not be able to control the outdoor environment, you can take control of the inside of your home and greatly reduce and eliminate the factors that set off asthma and allergies. As an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle, I am dedicated to helping individuals steer clear of those triggers.

Read on to learn what the 10 triggers are and how to get rid of them:

1 of 10

Cigarette smoke

1. Tobacco Smoke

Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home. Even secondhand smoke can cause swelling and mucus production in the airways of the lungs. If visitors to your home must smoke, send them outdoors.


2. Pet Dander

Keep pets out of bedrooms and off upholstered furniture. Bathe pets at least once a week, and always wash your hands and launder clothing after playing with your pet.


3. Mold

Even those who don’t suffer from allergies and asthma can suffer adverse health risks when mold is present. Lower your home’s humidity to help keep mold from flourishing; ventilate well by using exhaust fans in the bathrooms, kitchen and other damp areas; manage moisture in the basement and monitor your home after a storm strikes.


4. Pollen

More people are allergic to pollen than anything else. If that includes you, do not dry your clothes on an outdoor clothesline. Bathe before going to bed to rinse pollen off your body. Place the clothes you wore in a covered laundry hamper outside your bedroom. Wash your pillow cover frequently. And remove your shoes when you enter your home.


5. Dust

There is no way to keep dust — and the dust mites that thrive there — out of your home, but you can significantly reduce it. Clean your home and wipe down surfaces frequently with a damp cloth. Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency or HEPA filter. Also consider an air purifier with a HEPA filter, which manufacturers say can capture 99.97 percent of microscopic airborne particles, to keep the air as clean as possible.

Dry cleaning

6. Clothing

You may not think of your clothes as a source of indoor air pollution, but chemicals in dry-cleaned clothing can contain perchloroethylene, which has been linked to cancer in animals and is believed to be a human carcinogen. It may also irritate allergies and cause contact dermatitis. If your dry-cleaned clothes hang in your closet for a while, they can release perchloroethylene into the air.

Cleaning supplies

7. Cleaning Supplies

Store household cleaning products in well-ventilated areas away from children, and be sure containers are tightly closed to help prevent fumes from leaking out. Such fumes can irritate the airways of people with asthma. Buy small containers and discard after using rather than storing them for months or years.


8. Vermin

In addition to being unsanitary, cockroaches, mice, rats and other vermin leave behind droppings that are major triggers for asthma and allergies. To protect your home, keep it free of crumbs, drips and other food waste, and repair holes in walls, cracks in floors, tears in window screens and other entry points to your home.


9. Odors

Although they seem harmless, scented products — soaps, shampoos, perfumes, lotions, deodorant and even nail polish — can be a big trigger of allergy and asthma symptoms. Additionally, manage your use of air fresheners, avoiding plug-in fragrance boxes and scented candles.

Fire wood

10. Wood Smoke

Fireplaces can be a beautiful focal point in a room. Unfortunately, using them to burn wood is not a great idea for allergy and asthma sufferers. Beautify your fireplace without fire. Choose a dramatic mantle and over-mantle décor like a large mirror, photograph or painting. Arrange birch logs with white bark on the fireplace grate, and create a still life inside the fireplace opening with pottery, vases, sculptures or plants.



Robin Wilson Robin Wilson is an eco-friendly interior designer, author and entrepreneur with hypoallergenic products sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohls, JC Penney and other retailers. She is author of two award-winning books: Clean Design (Greenleaf, 2015) and Kennedy Green House (Greenleaf, 2010). She regularly appears on the speakers circuit, on television and print with commentary on design, wellness, sustainability and allergy & asthma issues. Read More
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