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8 Ways to Asthma-Proof Your Home

A woman vacuums the rug in her living room to keep it free from dust and other asthma triggers
Getty Images / South_agency

Even the cleanest, tidiest houses can be a hotbed of unexpected asthma triggers. Cróna Tansey shares 8 tips for asthma-proofing the home.

As my fiancé and I embark on the exciting adventure of building our own home, I’ve been thinking about the steps my parents took to asthma-proof the house I grew up in.

It’s no surprise that our homes are often filled with asthma triggers. According to The Asthma Society of Ireland, dust, animal dander, mould, air quality, and furnishings are common triggers for asthma symptoms at home.

My siblings and I experienced asthma as children, so our parents worked hard to make the family home as asthma-friendly as possible.

When I think about it, my condition often flared when I stayed away from home. That's as good a sign as any that my parents' measures to asthma-proof our home were effective.

8 Tips for proofing your home against asthma triggers

To prepare myself for moving in, I spoke to my mother about the changes she felt were necessary in our home.

1. Eliminate dust and dust mites

Dust mites are tiny creatures that feed off the dead skin cells we shed. As you can imagine, dust mites are especially attracted to our bed sheets.

This year, my fiancé and I invested in anti-allergy bed sheets to combat dust mites from accumulating in our beds. We wash our bedclothes weekly and ensure our rooms are well-ventilated and regularly vacuumed. Asthma.ie recommends that sheets, duvets and pillowcases should be washed weekly at 60 degrees Celsius.

Purging my bedroom of triggers also helped with my night-time asthma symptoms. It feels so good to get a full night’s sleep!

2. Swap carpets for wooden floors

As young children, we had carpets in our bedrooms and living rooms. My parents replaced the carpets with wooden floors to make our home more asthma-friendly.

Wooden flooring is much easier to keep clean, and the dust doesn’t accumulate as much as before. This is definitely something every person with asthma should consider when moving into a new home.

3. Invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner

Purchasing a high-quality vacuum cleaner is also something I’ll do when our house is ready.

Dusting and vacuuming were chores I happily avoided as a child. In fact, my mother never wanted me to do these chores as she knew too much dust exposure could trigger a flare-up.

I’ve since invested in an air-filtering face mask for those dusty jobs!

4. Try an air purifier

I’ve recently placed an air purifier in my bedroom. Over the summer, when pollen levels were high, I used the air purifier to freshen the air in my bedroom. I also use the air purifier in winter to help reduce dust levels and other pollutants in the air. I’ve found this helpful in making my bedroom asthma-proof, particularly at night.

5. Declutter

I'm staying in my parent’s house while my fiancé and I build our new home. At 27, I’ve accumulated many belongings, including clothes, memory boxes, college notes, and resources for work. My childhood bedroom is far too small to hold everything, so many of my possessions have ended up in the attic.

Due to the lack of space, I’ve had to carry out many clear-outs over the years. The build-up of clutter in my bedroom made it more difficult to clean, and my stored belonging attracted a lot of dust. It was hardly an asthma-friendly living space!

Nowadays, I minimise any clutter to reduce dust gathering in my bedroom. I plan to continue this habit in my new home.

6. Avoid aerosols, strong chemicals, and fumes

The Asthma Society of Ireland’s Asthma-Friendly Homes Leaflet states that bleach, polishes, and air fresheners can irritate our lungs and airways.

Our home has various cleaning products, from disinfectant to furniture polish. Aerosol products have a strong smell, and they're easily inhaled when sprayed near the face.

Most sprays, including deodorant, often make me catch my breath. I avoid inhaling these fumes by covering my mouth with a mask or scarf. If the fumes are too strong, I can leave the room and get some fresh air.

The leaflet also suggests some asthma-friendly cleaning alternatives. Rather than using sprays or aerosols, the booklet recommends using liquid or solid cleaners. These cleaning agents can be applied directly to the surface, so they help avoid any fumes often caused by sprays and aerosols.

You can also use natural cleaning products like warm water, vinegar, lemon, and baking soda and look out for "allergy-friendly" labels on cleaning products.

Remember, it’s important to keep areas well-ventilated, especially while cleaning.

7. Steer clear of smoke and open fires

None of my family members are smokers, so I didn’t experience the trigger of cigarette smoke in my home. We did, however, have two open fires. There are so many triggers associated with the fire for me. The smoke that rises from the fire, the soot on the grate, and the cleaning of the fire are all triggers that I need to be very conscious of.

I use my face mask when lighting the fire or doing any cleaning that involves soot. This acts as a barrier and allows me to enjoy the fire without triggering my symptoms.

A couple of years ago, my parents invested in a wood-burning stove with a door. This was a fantastic addition to our quest to asthma-proof the home, lowering the risk of smoke entering the living spaces.

As we’re embarking on a new build, it’s required that our house is well insulated. As a result, we won’t need a usable fireplace, which will reduce the risk of dust, soot, and smoke.

8. Be mindful of animal-related triggers

Growing up, we didn’t have any family pets in our home. I don’t have much experience with animal dander for this reason. My fiancé, on the other hand, loves animals - particularly dogs - so we'll likely have a dog when the time comes.

It’s a common misconception that only an animal's fur will trigger asthma symptoms. According to Asthma.org.uk, we must also be conscious of animal dander, saliva, animal food, and their beds and toys. The website has some excellent tips for lowering the risk of pet allergies in our homes.

The takeaway

Living with asthma is always a learning curve. The more tips I can pick up along the way, the better I can manage and reduce my symptoms and flare-ups.

I’ve learned a lot from my parents and how they managed our home. I’m looking forward to building my ideal living space and researching new ways to asthma-proof our home for the future.

© 2023 Life Effects by Teva Pharmaceuticals

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen​. 

This site is intended for UK and Ireland residents only.

Date of preparation: August 2023
D: COB-GB-NP-00134 (V1.0) / T: COB-GB-NP-00154 (V1.0) / M: COB-GB-NP-00153 (V1.0)

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