They’re creepy crawlers and they’re too small to be spotted by the naked human eye. They feed off dead skin and they are everywhere. Dust mites invade every home and can cause havoc on a person’s allergies. Measuring less than 1/100th of an inch, dust mites are kin to spiders and other arachnids. They live in the fibers of bedding, furniture upholstery, carpets and other cloths found in the home.
Allergies are the number one reason to remove as many dust mites from your home as possible. The dust mites themselves cannot bite humans, but as they grow they shed their skin and leave feces in their habitat. These are the second most common reason for allergic reactions, with pollen coming in first place. A person allergic to dust mites can suffer from a mild reaction, like itchy eyes or a runny nose, to a severe asthma attack.
Removing Dust Mites
While it is nearly impossible to completely remove dust mites from your home there are things that can be done to reduce their numbers. A few changes to cleaning routines and a bit of redecorating could have you breathing better in no time.
- Bedding, clothing, curtains and most washable things should be run through the washing machine once a week or so. Use the hot water setting on the washing machine to ensure all dust mites are killed. For clothing and other fabrics not used often enough to justify such constant washings consider plastic covers and slips.
- For fabrics that can’t be washed, like carpets and furniture, use a vacuum to remove the mites. Try to find a vacuum with a HEPA filter to help clean the air as you vacuum and make sure to get all the nooks and crannies instead of just the surface. Using a steam cleaner once a month can also help reduce dust mite populations.
- Mattresses and box springs are both difficult to clean and really important to clear of dust mites. Hopefully, you spend six to eight hours a day or night sleeping in the bed. This is a long time to be inhaling allergens. There are mattress covers that are made to repel dust mites. These are often also made to repel pollen, stains and bed Box spring covers can also be bought to protect the fabric there.
- For pillows and other bits of bedding that can’t be washed an overnight freeze can kill off the dust mites. Use a damp cloth or hand vacuum to remove any dead dust mites and other allergens from the items after removing from the freezer.
Removing Dust Mites Due to Severe Allergies
For some people even the most rigorous cleaning can’t help reduce the number of allergic attacks caused by dust mites. In these extreme cases there are a number of things that can be done, but they do require a larger change.
- Removing the carpeting in your home will drastically reduce the livable habitats for dust mites. Replace carpet with lanolin, wood or tile flooring. Put rubber mats at the entrances to reduce track through and small, washable throw rugs can be put down to help ward away the morning chill. Sweep and mop several times a week to remove dust build up.
- Replace curtains with blinds. Blinds can be wiped down with a wet cloth to remove dust buildup and don’t offer a home to dust mites. If you miss the color curtains bring into your home there are a number of designer blinds or you can get creative and paint your own.
- Add an air filter to your home. These can be either directly installed into some central heating and cooling units or bought as standalone units. Changing the air filter on your heating and cooling system is recommended once a month and cleaning a standalone filter should be done once a week.
- Control the humidity in your home. Use a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity right at or below 50%. Dust mites can’t thrive in these drier conditions. Keep an eye out for leaks in piping and repair any that appear quickly. Use ventilation fans in the kitchen and bathroom as well.
- For children stuffed animals are a must, but these cuddly toys can pose a challenge in the war against the dust mites. You can freeze the toys for 24 hours to then hand vacuum to remove the dead dust mites. There are “asthma friendly” toys that may be used to replace stuffed animals if needed.
While the war on dust mites is never ending there are many ways you can win the battles. Depending on your level of allergies and your determination dust mites can be fought back well beyond tolerable levels to as near annihilated as possible. With dedicated cleaning and a few changes to your home you’ll be breathing better in no time.