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Health Topics > Asthma > Asthma Trigger Reduction Steps

Asthma Trigger Reduction Steps

Different things can trigger an asthma episode. What may be a trigger for one person may not be a trigger for another. Triggers can be found in and outside of the home. This document lists some common triggers found in the home and describes ways to reduce them.

Tobacco Smoke

  • If possible, make the commitment not to smoke in your home or car and ask others not to either.
  • Let your relatives and friends know just how harmful cigarette smoke is to people with asthma.
  • If you want information on how to stop smoking, please call: 1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887).

Dust and soot

  • Dust with damp cloth or paper towel.
  • Keep wall heater free from dust.
  • Change furnace filters, keep heating ducts clean, or minimize use of a fireplace.


  • Keep pets out of the child's bedroom or sleeping area, keeping doors closed when possible.
  • Keep pets outdoors.
  • Regularly wash the child's hands and face after touching pet(s).
  • Wash the pet weekly.
  • Some families find new homes for pets if they are found to be a major source of asthma triggers for a child.

Child's Bedding

  • Choose washable bedding.
  • Wash pillows cases, sheets, blankets and bedspreads in hot water once a week (cold water will not kill dust mites), with fragrance free detergents and avoid scented dryer sheets.
  • Dry completely in a clothes dryer (if hang outside, can attract pollen and other pollutants).
  • Cover the child's mattress and pillow in a dust-proof zippered cover.
  • If the mattress is on the floor, raise it.
  • If the child sleeps on upholstered furniture such as a sofa, cover furniture with washable slipcovers or sheets and vacuum furniture regularly (including removing cushions and vacuuming in cracks and crevices).

Stuffed Toys

  • Place them in the freezer for 24 hours.
  • You can also wash them in hot water once a week - dry completely.
  • Store them in a closed toy chest.
  • If the child sleeps with the toy. The toy should be enclosed during the day, and only taken out only at bedtime.
  • Avoid fabric or stuffed toys, which provide a home for dust mites.

Floor Coverings

  • Mop hard surface floors regularly.
  • Vacuum carpets, area rugs, and floors regularly.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency filter.
  • Wash throw rugs regularly in hot water. Dry completely.
  • Clean baseboards regularly using a damp cloth with warm, soapy water.
  • Keep the child with asthma out of rooms when they are being cleaned.
  • Keep child from jumping on furniture or rolling around on carpeted floor.

Window Coverings

  • Wash and dry curtains regularly.
  • Dust windowsills, blinds, and shades regularly using a damp cloth with warm, soapy water.
  • Vacuum drapes regularly.
  • Replace curtains or drapes with plastic, vinyl, wood, or aluminum blinds.

Heat Source

  • Don't use an oven, burners (eyes) or candles as a source of heat.
  • Move bed or furniture where child sleeps away from heating vents.


  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Dry completely.
  • Move furniture away from walls.
  • Wipe windows when there is a lot of condensation (moisture) to prevent mold growth.
  • If there is still mold in the ceiling tiles, carpet, or sheetrock consider consulting the landlord or a professional to see if it needs to be replaced.
  • Dry surfaces completely before painting or caulking (both caulking and painting can also be asthma triggers without proper ventilation).
  • Don't let plants accumulate standing water that can grow mold.
  • Repair leaky roofs or windows to remove water source that helps mold and mildew grow.

Under Sink

  • Reduce clutter under the sink, this provides a good hiding place for pests.
  • Keep cleaning products and pesticides securely stored.
  • Consider using less toxic cleaning products such as baking soda, mild solutions like vinegar and water.
  • Roaches, rats and other pests need water. Mold also needs moisture to grow. Fix or talk to landlord about fixing leaky plumbing to keep pests and mold away.


  • Open a window or used the exhaust fan over stove when cooking.


  • Put away food and take the garbage out regularly.
  • Always store food in airtight containers.
  • Wet mop floors at least weekly.
  • Instead of pesticides, use boric acid powder that is non-toxic to pets and is not an aerosol. Other options include poison baits or traps. If you do use sprays, limit spraying to the affected area and follow the instructions on the label. Also, make sure that there is plenty of fresh air when you spray, and keep the person who has asthma out of the room.


  • Open a window when showering or install a fan.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water.
  • Replace or talk to landlord about replacing ceiling tiles, carpet, or sheetrock if mold was present.
  • Wash or replace shower curtains and bath mats if moldy.

Other trigger reduction activities

  • Avoid clutter on floors, surfaces and walls. Avoid pennants, pictures, flower arrangements or other dust catchers on walls.
  • Avoid using scented candles and perfumes.
  • Use unscented grooming products.

Content provided by the Asthma Program of Contra Costa Health Services.

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