Allergy Clinical Services

Controlling Your Environment at Home

Dust Mites

Dust mites thrive when there is enough to eat (human skin flakes), and the air is moist and warm. Their droppings trigger allergy reactions in allergic children.

Cover pillows, mattress, and box spring in allergen-proof casings. These keep the mites inside.

If a comforter is used, cover it with an allergen-proof cover to keep the mites out.

Wash bed sheets and pillow cases once a week in hot water (130 F).

Clean blankets monthly.

High heat (in the dryer at 130 F for 20 minutes) or extreme cold ( the freezer -1 to -4 F) overnight once per month will kill mites. This may be useful for items that cannot be washed. But washing is preferable To drying or freezing since it can kill mites and remove the droppings.

Avoid sleeping on floors or upholstered furniture.

Optimal home humidity level is less that 50%. Use a dehumidifier with adequate capacity (at least 40 pints). Keep the air as cool as possible too.

Hardwood or other easily cleaned flooring and washable area rugs are the best choices for allergy sufferers.

If installing carpet, low pile carpet will be a better choice.

When vacuuming carpet or upholstered furniture, use a HEPA filter in the vacuum or use a 2-ply vacuum bag.

Vacuum weekly and stay out of room for 30 minutes after vacuuming. Use a damp cloth to dust.

Do not sweep with a broom in the bedroom as this will stir up dust. It will not be collected.

Avoid clutter, especially on the bed and floor.

Use blinds or curtains that can be washed.

We can measure dust mite allergen content in dust samples to assess risk.

Animal Dander

Dander is found in the material from glands in the skin, saliva, urine and blood. The allergens stick to hair and skin flakes. Even hairless pets can cause allergic reactions!

Non-allergenic cats pr dogs do not exist.

Once you are sensitized to animal dander, there is no evidence that you can grow out of it.

Removal of the animal from the home is the most effective control measure. Rugs should be removed (cleaning is less effective) Furniture should be cleaned. Walls should be washed and painted.

Even after animal removal and thorough cleaning, it may take 6-12 months for allergen level to fall to a point where symptoms improve.

If an animal does remain at home, it is best if the pet lives outside, or in an isolated area.

Pets should never be allowed in the bedroom, especially not on the bed.

Remove carpets in the bedroom if possible.

Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter in the bedroom and living room, or in the room that the child spends the most time. The air cleaner works best if there are no rugs.

Cover pillow, mattress, and box spring in allergen-proof casings.

Washing a pet weekly may temporarily decrease the amount of allergen on the pet, but washing will not be very helpful to reduce symptoms.

Pets should not be in the car with an allergic person for extended periods.

Wash hands after direct contact with an animal.

Avoid facial contact with animals and contact with the pet's toys.

Change clothes and take a bath or shower after visiting a home with an animal.

If your child has eczema, bathe the child before bed and do not allow contact with the pet before the child goes to sleep.


Molds thrive in damp areas with decaying materials.

Avoid damp and dusty places such as attics and basements.

Regularly clean and ventilate basements, bathrooms and kitchens.

A dehumidifier with adequate capacity may be needed to keep a basement dry. Use a unit with an adequate capacity (at least 40 pints). Empty collected water often, or drain.

Clean cool mist vaporizers weekly. Inspect air conditioner filters weekly.

Keep houseplants to a minimum and out of the bedroom.

Use window air conditioners with the vent to the outside closed.

Do not use carpeting in damp areas.

Repair leaks in roof, walls, and windows.

Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.

Outdoor molds can blow into the home through open windows and doors.

Stirring up piles of leaves during the fall season releases mold and pollens.


Roaches thrive in areas with food and moisture.

Elimination may be very difficult.

Exterminate/fumigate (professional), then thoroughly clean. Add bleach to the wash water.

Keep the stove and all kitchen areas clean, dry and free of food particles.

Keep the house dry. Allow sinks, tubs, and floors to dry every day. Remove sources of standing water.

Keep food tightly sealed and all surfaces clean.

Use strategically place roach baits.

Vacuum and wet wash home thoroughly.

Place trash outside nightly.

Seal all cracks.

Cigarette Smoke and Irritants

Exposure to tobacco smoke has been proven over and over to worsen asthma in all ages, even if exposure is only second hand.

Avoid being in confined areas with smokers: riding in cars, public places, home.

Avoid spraying insecticides or other strong smelling products in the house.

Avoid smoke from fireplaces and wood burning stoves.

Avoid strong cooking orders, especially from frying.

Limit physical activity during periods of high air pollution or ozone alert days.

Use an adequate air filtration system with a HEPA filter.

Avoid painting in enclosed areas and avoid spending extended periods of time in freshly painted areas.

Do not spray room deodorizers or dust sprays in the bedroom.


Use air conditioners, they filter our pollens and allow you to close your windows.

Do not use window or ceiling fans, especially with the windows open.

Highest pollen count is in the morning.

Avoid physical activity outdoors during peak pollen seasons.

Pollen and mold accumulated in grass and leaves is stirred up during mowing, raking, and playing.

Wear a face mask if outdoor activity cannot be avoided during peak seasons. If possible, do not hang clothes to dry.


Exterminate (professionally), then thoroughly clean.

Keep food in tightly sealed containers.

Seal all cracks.

Reviewed by: Allergy Section
Date: February 2009

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