How to Spring Clean Your House to Make It Asthma-Safe

written by Skye Sherman - Apr 3, 2023

Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio,
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio,

If you or someone you love suffers from asthma, you know how much it can impact your overall wellbeing and way of life. Asthma sufferers are especially sensitive to air issues, and living in an untidy or dusty environment can wreak havoc on their lungs.

It might feel like keeping your home clean is just another item on your never-ending to-do list, but this task is more important than most others because it can affect your physical health or the health of anyone who enters your home. Leaving the cleaning for another day may be tempting, but if you have sensitive lungs, you will pay the price!

Wondering how to keep your home clean to alleviate asthma symptoms? In this article, we’ll take a look at spring cleaning tips to keep your home free of airborne bothers. We’ll also take a look at the basics of asthma so you can better understand how this condition works, what causes it, and what makes it worse.

Keep reading to learn more about asthma-safe cleaning practices for this spring and beyond.

What you need to know about asthma

Though asthma is a very common condition, not everyone knows what causes it, makes it worse, or how it feels to suffer from this condition. Let’s start with the basics.

As Nemours puts it, “People with asthma have trouble breathing. This is because of a problem with the airways (the breathing tubes in the lungs. Airways can get swollen and full of mucus.”

Asthma can be triggered, or worsened, by a number of environmental factors. Some of the most common include pollen that comes from plants, especially as they bloom with the changing seasons; dust mites (yes, these are tiny insects that live in dust!), mold, and airborne pollutants like smoke.

Self explains it this way: “If you have asthma, your immune system is primed to overreact as soon as you encounter a substance it has deemed dangerous, be it dust mites, pollen, animal dander, or some other thing that is actually pretty harmless. When you happen upon one of these triggers, your airways tighten, as do the muscles around them, and they also spew out more mucus than they should.”

If you have asthma or know someone who does, you know the result. Asthma symptoms activate and you experience trouble breathing, wheezing, pain or tightness in your chest, and possibly even coughing.

Nemours also explains, “Triggers don’t hurt most people, but they can make someone with asthma cough, wheeze, and have trouble breathing. Triggers don’t cause asthma (no one knows exactly what does), but they can lead to asthma flare-ups.”

Irritants in the air can make asthma worse, and can be caused by not keeping the home clean enough. Your indoor air matters just as much as outdoor air. After all, it’s where you spend much of your time! Air pollution outdoors is a known cause of breathing problems, but contaminated indoor air is just as important to consider.

As Nemours puts it, “You want to be comfortable at home — where you spend most of your time — so try to remove as many asthma triggers as you can. When your house doesn’t cause asthma flare-ups, it really is home, sweet home!”

There’s not necessarily a cure for asthma that will do away with it once and for all. However, there are steps you can take to discourage flare-ups, stay healthy, and keep symptoms to a minimum.

If you see a doctor and are diagnosed with asthma, they will likely prescribe you an asthma treatment or inhaler like albuterol (also known as ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, and Ventolin HFA) or levalbuterol (also known as Xopenex HFA). These are common treatments for asthma that may be used on a daily basis or as needed during a flare-up. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider before starting any treatments or medications.

Why it’s important to keep your home clean for asthma and beyond

You might think of cleaning your house as just another pesky chore, but it’s actually a form of health care and self care. That’s right: Keeping your home clean also protects your health, wellness, and emotional satisfaction in life.

An article in MSN titled Disturbing things that happen if you stop cleaning your home points out just a few of the risks of not keeping your home neat and clean:

“If you don’t dust or vacuum, your place will become a haven for allergens, especially dust mites. These microscopic creatures feed on the dead skin cells people shed throughout the day. Dust mites live in furniture, carpets, bedding, and stuffed animals. They can become a real problem for people with allergies or asthma. Dust mites are a common causative agent for year-round allergies and asthma symptoms. Basically, you can reduce these allergy symptoms by keeping your house clean.”

And this is just the first of many things listed in the article. Dusting might seem like an unnecessary chore, but on top of keeping your home looking sparkly clean, it also helps ward off illnesses such as allergies.

Those with asthma are particularly sensitive to dust and dander in the air. If a home is not wiped down and vacuumed regularly, they might suffer more and wonder about the cause. But dusty, dry mites aren’t the only risk of an unkempt home.

Silent killers: mold, dirty linens, and contaminated air, oh my!

Another major issue for all people, but especially those with delicate lungs, is mold and mildew. This fungus among us flourishes in damp places, especially when they are not kept clean and sterile on a regular basis. The most common places to see mold are bathrooms and around appliances that may have a tendency to leak or stay damp. This could be your air conditioner unit, dishwasher, or even clothes washer.

To stop mold in its tracks or get rid of it once it has set in, you’ll need to scrub the area with a mold cleaner. Some options include bleach, borax, vinegar, or specialized mold cleaning agents. Brush or scrub the area until all the mold and mildew is out of sight. Then sanitize it and, if necessary, seal it with a mold-repelling chemical to keep it away for good.

Mold can cause a wide range of health problems, some of them extreme. You don’t want to mess with mold growth and your health. Some mold can cause long-term damage or have lasting impacts on your health.

Another important step is taking out the trash regularly. Not only is this sanitary, it will keep bugs at bay, make your house smell better, and keep your air cleaner for asthma sufferers and their counterparts alike.

Food waste, trash cans, wet clothing, unchecked moisture, and clogged shower drains can all lead to major health issues. Don’t leave these tasks for another day.

As MSN reports, “On top of allergies, living in an untidy and filthy house can make you seriously sick. For example, mold can cause people to feel ill, and critters carry germs and many diseases into your home.”

If you have a pet, you’ll need to up your cleaning schedule even more, because their hair, dander, and accidents can add to your cleaning load. Never let pets in your bedroom, no matter how tempting it is to sleep with them. Consider investing in a robot vacuum, air purifier, and other tools that take some of the rote tasks off your plate so you have more time to enjoy your furry friend.

You may never have thought of cleaning your air filters, but this is totally necessary to prevent you from breathing contaminated air or having poor indoor air quality.

MSN puts it this way: “When you stop cleaning, the air ducts and vent systems can get clogged with dust and debris. Dust buildup can circulate in the air, triggering allergies and other respiratory issues. You can improve your indoor air quality by controlling your exposure to indoor air pollutants, ventilating your house with fresh air, and using air cleaners to filter indoor air.”

Need another way to clear the air? MSN suggests washing your sheets and towels on a weekly basis: “Sheets needs to be washed once a week or every two weeks at most. Otherwise, you’ll be sleeping with dust mites, dirt, hair, oils from your body, and so on.”

Washing them in hot water will kill off bacteria and ensure your linens come back to you crisp, fresh, and good as new. If you have rugs in your home, wash those too. And if you have carpet, vacuum it often, hire a professional carpet cleaner on a quarterly basis, or invest in replacing the carpeted areas with hard floors that are easier to clean and less prone to gather dust and debris.

Plus, you’ll sleep better when your sleeping area has been freshly laundered. And good sleep affects every other aspect of your health. It can make or break how you feel and how you fare each day. So do whatever you need to do to get better sleep.

Tips for keeping your home clean so it’s never a major chore

Wondering how to stay caught up on your housework?

Make a cleaning schedule that takes just 15 minutes per day. If you operate your home on a regular cleaning schedule like this, housework will never feel like too much. If you have 7 days in a week and dedicate one day each week to cleaning a different area of your house for 15 minutes at a time, your home will always stay clean.

Plus, some chores can be accomplished while you do other things. For example, you can wash the dishes while you listen to music or a podcast. Or, you can fold laundry while you watch a TV show. You can scrub the bathroom and call a friend at the same time, if you put the call on speaker phone.

If your asthma symptoms are triggered by the very act of housework itself, wear a mask while you clean. This can prevent some airborne irritants from getting into your lungs. Make sure to also vacuum with a HEPA filter. And if there’s a lot of pollen outside, make sure to keep your windows closed.

Note that you might also need to clean up your cleaning chemicals! According to Aspen Clean, even your cleaning chemicals themselves, especially those with fragrances, can be an asthma trigger: “Synthetic fragrances found in cleaning products and air fresheners commonly contain a group of chemicals called phthalates. They can trigger asthma. Also, it can be absorbed across the skin.”

The article also notes the danger of quaternary ammonia compounds (QUATS): “They are a class of chemicals used as disinfectants, anti-bacterial and fabric softeners. QUATS are classified by EWG as an asthmagen and studies have shown that QUATS can cause asthma in previously healthy people.” Yes, that’s right, they can actually cause asthma! Get rid of cleaning chemicals in your home that contain QUATS.

When it comes to cleaning, remember that the longer you wait, the more overwhelming the task will seem. Make cleaning a small daily habit and a happy part of your day and routine. Maybe you choose cleaning solutions that have a lovely smell you look forward to, or maybe you give yourself a reward each time.

However you choose to do it, if you keep your home clean, then it will never feel like too much, and your asthma will be kept at bay as far as it is within your control. Cleaning your home will take less time and seem less daunting if you simply keep up with it, and you’ll feel better as you breathe better as a result.



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While the above article is based on thorough research, we do not claim to offer a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. The article was written for information and educational purposes only. We aim to provide helpful information to our readers, but cannot provide a treatment, diagnosis, or consultation of any sort, and we are in no way indicating that any particular drug is safe or appropriate for you and your individual needs. To receive professional medical attention, you must see a doctor.