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Cleaning Tips for Your Heathier Home

Living room with couch, fireplace and chairs

Cleaning our homes helps protect our family's health. For anyone living with asthma, allergies, COPD or other lung disease, a cleaner home is essential to reduce irritants and triggers that can worsen these diseases. While trying to keep a clean home, it can be hard to keep up! Check out our tips for a cleaner and healthier home.

Dust Mites & Dust

More than unsightly, dust and dust mites contribute to allergic reactions and are asthma triggers. Dust mites are microscopic, and hundreds and thousands of them can live in your bedding, couch, carpets and curtains. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells found in dust.  Here are a few ways to get rid of them:

  • Reduce humidity. To minimize growth of dust mites, keep your home humidity levels below 50 percent. In humid areas, air conditioning and dehumidifiers can help and on dry days, open your windows for an hour help remove humidity.
  • Reduce the places where dust mites can grow. Choose furniture and window treatments with smooth surfaces for easier cleaning.  Cover your mattresses and pillows and wash all bedding in hot water once a week.
  • Replace carpets. If you are allergic to dust mites, carpeting is not the best decorative choice. But if removing carpet is not possible, clean your carpets with benzyl benzoate and use a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency filter or a central vacuum cleaner. 
  • Dust with a damp cloth. When dusting, use a damp mop or damp cloth to reduce the amount of dust stirred up when cleaning.


Indoor spaces all contain mold. Breathing mold can trigger allergic reactions and asthma symptoms. Furthermore, anyone—with or without allergies or allergies—may experience irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs when exposed to airborne mold particles.  Here are a few ways to fix mold issues in your home:

  • Identify and eliminate the water problem. Dampness causes mold, so you need to remove the source of water that creates a damp environment. You may need technical assistance from a plumber or contractor to determine what needs to be fixed or changed.
  • Determine the extent of the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends calling for professional help to clean any mold growth that covers more than 10 square feet. 
  • Remove, clean or discard affected materials. To get rid of mold, wash it off materials that can be effectively cleaned, such as hard surfaces, with detergent and warm water, and dry the surface completely. If materials cannot be cleaned or are too damaged to reuse, simply get rid of them.
  • Protect yourself during the clean-up process. At minimum, wear an N-95 mask (available at hardware stores), disposable gloves and goggles.

Pet Dander

Composed of tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers, pet dander can cause reactions in people who are specifically allergic to these triggers.  Animals with fur may be more likely to carry allergens from other sources, like dust, but fur itself is generally not a trigger. For that reason, short-haired or hairless animals contribute dander and allergens to indoor air pollution just as much as long-haired animals do.  So what can you do to keep a human-friendly home while also keeping your furry friends?

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom of anyone who has asthma or allergies.
  • Do not allow your animals on furniture, especially upholstery, and keep the pet away from carpets.
  • Clean the home often and do not allow dust to accumulate.

Many household and cleaning products—including soaps, polishes and grooming supplies—can include harmful chemicals called volatile organic compounds. Even products advertised as "green" or "natural" may contain ingredients that can cause health problems. U.S. law does not require cleaning products to disclose ingredients on the product package. We believe that consumers have the right to know what is in their household products so they are empowered to create healthy homes. Get in the habit of looking for and reading ingredient labels when available, and look for household products that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice standards.

This content was developed in partnership with Seventh Generation.

    Page Last Updated: August 14, 2017

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