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bed shaped like inhaler on hardwood flooring

An Asthma Friendly Bedroom

It took me ten years but I think I’ve finally got the “asthma friendly” bedroom I was told I should have a decade ago. And repeatedly since then. Well, maybe—I have most of it, anyways!

Some changes are easier to make than others

For a long time, my room was pretty much the opposite of what was desired when I was asked about my sleeping space being asthma friendly.
I remember when I met certain doctors, they mentioned a dust-mite proof mattress encasement specifically, in addition to asking if my room was carpeted. These seem to be the “gold standard” benchmarks of how asthma-friendly your bedroom might be. And until I met Dr. Smartypants and she—yet again—asked me about the mattress cover, I finally started more seriously-ish looking for one, except they were all terrible-seeming or over $100. So by “more seriously-ish looking”, I mean that I finally got this item one day two or three years later when perusing the aisles at Shoppers Drug Mart, where I found a terrycloth-feeling allergy-proof mattress protector for $40. SOLD. (Especially because I bought it, I am pretty sure, with points.)

Flooring, of course, is a whole other story. You don’t just buy flooring on a whim at the local Shoppers and slap it down. While there’s some degree of argue-ability between whether carpet—if vacuumed regularly—traps the dust inside making it actually more ideal for people with asthma, or whether hard flooring harbours less dust and thus is the more ideal flooring choice. The reality is, I tried the whole vacuuming regularly bit and it just did not happen. So finally, this past October—yes, that would be 10.5+ years after developing asthma—I finally have hard flooring in my room, as my parents were replacing all the upstairs carpet.

Putting the effort in

The other part is the part about effort. Like dusting and sweeping or mopping or vacuuming regularly. Washing bedding regularly. Replacing pillows?! I’m less good at all those things. They’re sort of the same level of effort as “washing your spacer”, and fall into the category of “asthma chores” so they are even less desirable because they are chores you are supposed to do because of an incurable chronic disease that nobody likes, never mind wants to do greater amounts of chores because of.

With that said, I did replace my pillows recently, because thanks Hudson Bay Home for the Boxing Day sale. At one point I had “asthma & allergy friendly” certified bedding—well, comforter and one pillow—and honestly, while I’m still using the comforter, I’ve had a few other sets of pillows since then, I am unsure I have noticed a significant difference in my asthma. Your experience may vary. But your experience may vary if you actually wash things weekly or whatever like they say to, unlike me, because I am a bad role model in this department.

Anyways, at the very least my new flooring looks awesome, I have new pillows, and I am happy with the not-noisy mattress protector I finally found. Oh, and all the random stuffed animals and ridiculous cupcake pillow in my room are now stored high up away from my bed until the day where I move out and have a couch that can permanently have a cupcake pillow perched atop its back. The recommendation, is obviously, to not keep these things in the bedroom at all, but given I was diagnosed with asthma beyond stuffed-animal-age, I sort of am in flux as to what to do with these remaining pieces of my childhood (or, not childhood, like the giant Peeps bunny I bought in San Francisco as an adult, and the giant carrot I bought at IKEA, also when—I believe—I was an adult, and Francesco the Build a Bear Monkey who was, at the very least, purchased sometime after the movie Elf came out in 2003 since he was sort-of-incorrectly named after this scene.)

It appears while I’ve made progress, I still have work to do!

How asthma-friendly is your sleeping space, and what do you do to keep it that way?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • emmejm
    11 months ago

    Honestly, I’m so glad I’m not the only one struggling with this! I’ve had the allergy covers for my pillows and mattress for a while because you can get affordable ones at Walmart, and I already use blinds instead of curtains because I’m an arachnophobe and spiders can hide in your curtains more easily than blinds, but the rest is just a pain. Also, living in Wisconsin, it’s very difficult to find an apartment that has central air AND non-carpet flooring (you get one or the other and that’s THAT), so I get A/C and try to keep up with the vacuuming. I did recently get an air purifier and it does seem to be helping a bit.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi emmejm and thanks for responding to the article by Kerri MacKay. Glad to see the content resonated so clearly with you. We appreciate your input. Leon (site moderator)

  • TracyLee
    11 months ago

    Kerri, good for you! It can be difficult to be motivated to make changes when improvements are not immediately obvious.

    I realized I was “allergic to dust” decades before I developed asthma and had allergy tests. To avoid sneezing and watery eyes, over the years, I gradually changed to hard flooring (there was a beautiful wood floor to refinish under the carpeting), washable mats (sadly, giving away a gorgeous sheepskin rug – I still miss it), dustable blinds instead of drapes, and the outrageously expensive dust mite protective covers for mattress, pillows, & comforter (specialty mail order, the Internet didn’t exist yet).

    Decorative items that couldn’t be washed or easily dusted were given away. This included vases of dried flowers that I painstakingly grew from seed for 6-12 weeks in the house before transplanting to my garden, as well as a dreamweaver I made from vines and wild bird feathers I found.

    When I developed asthma, I could already check off most of the “Do this to your bedroom” list – except for one important piece of advice: set up an AIR PURIFIER. It was the air purifier that made it possible for me to sleep through the night without waking up coughing and using albuterol, with the accompanying adrenaline rush making it impossible to sleep afterwards.

    With a portable fine particulate counter inside plus one mounted outside, I now know that without the bedroom air purifier operating during the 5 months of wood heat, despite shipping tape sealing the edges of the window and baby outlet protectors on outside wall outlets, the fine particulates spike inside the bedroom almost every night waaay beyond my trigger point. I tried sleeping in a mask, but it shifts around as I shift around and the seal is broken.

    During the months-long and increasingly severe wildfire seasons, I had to add more air purifiers to make uninterrupted sleep possible, using 3 clustered around my bed set on Turbo when the outdoor air quality is at the Very Unhealthy or Hazardous level for an extended period. The fan noise is perhaps like sleeping next to a jet runway, but tiredness eventually kicks in.

    When I use a dry dust sweeper every night (I’m retired, I’ve got loads of time – it takes 2 minutes and the disposable pads CAN be washed and reused 3 times before they stop collecting dust), I’m continuously surprised how much dust (and my hair – I should be bald by now!) it collects in just 24 hours. Clearly, the air purifier isn’t collecting everything. But it does a great job of capturing enough of the wood smoke particulates (not the odor) so I can sleep.

  • Shellzoo
    11 months ago

    I think the allergy/asthma friendly bedroom is a battle many of us face.

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