Asthma Mom’s Rules for Bedroom Dust

I’ve been living the dust mite prevention life for so long, sometimes I forget that families new to asthma don’t necessarily know about the more subtle ways to battle this allergen. You probably already know about the mattress and pillow covers. And then there’s the stuffed animal process. And the thing about avoiding carpet in bedrooms, if possible.

But let’s talk about some lesser known steps. The waste of these tiny mites is highly allergic, and it comprises a large portion of regular old household dust. As I’ve mentioned a time or twenty, this is my daughter’s only allergic trigger, but it’s a big one.

The main rule of thumb here: if you can’t dust it or clean it, don’t keep it in your kid’s room.

For example:

1. You know how people keep dried flower bouquets around for memories and/or decoration?
Yeah, don’t do that. Real flowers die. Silk flowers, you can wipe off. Dried flowers? Collect dust and are impossible to clean.

2. Only use curtains and bedding you can wash at home.
Anything too big or too delicate for your washing machine is just not going to get cleaned as often as it should. You’ll plan to drop it off at the dry cleaners or go find a laundromat with a big enough washer, but life will get in the way and the dust mite waste will just keep on multiplying.

And when you wash them:

3. Use hot water and the dryer.


4. Because dust mites like soft material best, keep that stuff to a minimum.
Now, I’m not saying you have to decorate your kid’s bedroom with all sharp angles and sleek modern furniture, but then I wouldn’t go overboard with an upholstered Victorian theme, either. You can’t strip your child’s bed of a soft quilt and a favorite teddy bear, but you can avoid dust-friendly decor like wall hangings and clutter.

5. Move to Denver.
No, just kidding. But here’s a little food for thought:

Dust mites thrive in temperatures of 68 to 77 degrees Faranheight [sic] and relative humidity levels of 70 percent to 80 percent. There are at least 13 species of mites, all of which are well adapted to the environment inside your home. (Source: AAFA, link below)

I don’t even think it’s possible to reach 70% here in the dry, dry Mile High City, but if you live at a lower altitude, keep an eye on the humidity levels inside your house.

6. Don’t forget to dust the hard-to-reach places.
Ceiling fan blades
Air vents
The backs and sides of bedroom furniture
Baseboards and crown molding

You get the idea.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

76 responses to “Asthma Mom’s Rules for Bedroom Dust”

  1. Amy says:

    Please note: that’s not my photo. There’s not a room in my house that’s nearly so well-decorated and color-coordinated.

  2. Sarah says:

    This probably falls under No 4., but my number-one recommendation would be no carpet or rugs. Ever. Period. Carpet is rather like stuff that’s dry-clean only: You might intend to vacuum it daily and break out the carpet cleaner on a regular basis, but it won’t happen. And even if you do, you can never clean carpet well enough to eliminate the dust from it, and to make things worse, it collects scents, dander, and other allergens and irritants like a sponge.

    I hate carpet. Can you tell? :p

  3. MC says:

    Ah, yes, dust mites. One of my few allergies… and I’m pretty sure they do trigger me. The hardest part for me? I LOVE to sew… and um… I have a sewing machine and plenty of fabric. We’ve moved things around in my room to keeping all my fabric in my walk-in closet and we put the door back on, and I’m not supposed to go in there unless I actually need to get something, in which, I limit my time spent in there. When I actually have the time to sew, I vacuum my room afterwards, but that doesn’t come without flaring while I sew (it also depends on what fabric I’m working with).

  4. Elisheva says:

    Aww. This brings back a few painful child memories. When my parents made me weed thru my 50+ stuffed animals and choose the ones I couldn’t live without and box up the rest and move them out of my room (I ended up donating them cuz what good are boxed up stuffed animals?) and when my mom decided a great mother-daughter activity would be the two of us removing my precious carpet together. There’s also all the times my brother made fun of me for “peeing in bed” cuz why else would I have a plastic mattress cover? Good times.

    Fortunately for me I either partially grew out of my dust allergy or desensitied myself to it. Moving out of my parents’ house at age 18 had a but role in that, I think. I refused to bring my air purifier with me and I had to stop using asthma as an excuse to get out. Of doing my own dusting and cleaning. I can still sense that a room is dusty upon walking in but it won’t send me NGO a flare unless I’m up close and personal with dust that’s moving around or if there’s seriously just tons of it.

  5. Elisheva says:

    Haha. Sorry for the weird typos. Silly iPod.

  6. Sarah says:

    I was lucky: I was never much of a stuffed-animal kid, anyway. There was one stuffed animal that I loved (and still have to this day): My tiger that I called “Tiger”. I had him since I was born (literally, Dad got him for me the day I was born, in the hospital gift store – there’s pictures of him in the incubator with me, and I was so tiny then that he dwarfed me). He’s a bit threadbare and faded now, but that just makes him more precious. :)

    But all my other favorite toys weren’t stuffed animals. Even when they were given to me, I didn’t really have much use for them… Too much of a tomboy, I guess. I never realized how lucky I was to not be a huge fan of stuffed animals (or “stuffies” as they were called in my house). Sidestepped the issue of asthma triggering entirely. :)

  7. Apee says:

    Carpets, most definitely, are the number one culprit ! After we removed carpets from our floors, our daughter’s asthma is _so_ much better.

  8. Elisheva says:

    Sarah, yeah I didn’t play with mine much either. They mostly sat on shelves in my room and pretty much watched me sleep (creepy much? Heh) it was actually around my asthma diagnosis that the first Toy Story came out, so maybe it’s good I moved them out of my room. Maybe I prevented some sort of inter-toy war or something.

  9. Amy says:

    The girls were both security blanket babies. They played with stuffed animals sometimes–though I only let them keep a few around–but for sleeping? It was blankets all the way. The Sidekick even named her security blanket–Pinky Biggie, nickname of Pinky.

  10. Sarah says:

    I was totally a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Little People, Pokemon, and GI Joe girl. Barbies that were given to me would find themselves with short haircuts and the clothes covered with green and brown marker to make girl soldiers to go with my GI Joes. And books. Lots and lots of books.

    I was a huge tomboy… It’s no wonder my sister and the girls in my class used to include me when they referred to the boys. XD

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