If you or someone else in your family has allergies or other respiratory problems, we suggest that you make yourself familiar with ways to get rid of dust mites in your home. Ninety percent of common house dust is made up of human and animal skin flakes (the skin cells we constantly shed). This skin-rich dust is the main food source for dust mites, which is why they love our homes.
Dust mites are only 1/80 of an inch long. They are too small for our eyes to see. So they go largely ignored until they cause health issues.
Why can dust mites become a problem?
Dead mites’ body parts and droppings contain a protein that is a potent allergen. When people allergic to the protein breathe in these tiny particles, they can cause an allergic reaction leading to symptoms like swollen eyes, breathing problems, a runny or stuffy nose, and even asthma. Welcome to a dust mite allergy. Unlike bed bugs, however, dust mites do not bite people and don’t feed off the blood of animals or humans.
How to get rid of dust mites in our home? How to kill dust mites?
In a nutshell, we need to eliminate their food source, which means two things:
- Remove as much dust as possible from your home.
- Ideally keep the humidity below 50 percent. Dust mites cannot drink water. They absorb humidity from the environment. Control the humidity to below 50% for most of the time, and will they slowly die.
Here are seven practical steps to get rid of dust mites
Don’t despair if you cannot put them all into practice at once, but get started today:
1. Reduce dust by keeping your home clean and tidy. Vacuum floors, upholstered furniture, and mattresses regularly. Wipe furniture and all other places where dust tends to accumulate. Eliminate dust hotspots by removing piles of laundry, magazines, newspapers and other clutter. If you are allergic to dust, it is best to have someone else do the vacuuming and wiping. If that is not possible, wear a mask (N95 or better).
2. Weekly or at least bi-weekly wash sheets, blankets, covers, pillows, curtains, and other fabrics in hot water with temperatures of > 130°F. Below this temperature, you are just giving the dust mites a bath. Consider getting a washer with an internal heating element. To kill dust mites, the recommended setting for these washers is 140°F (60°C)
3. Reduce the humidity in your house to ideally less than 50%. The lower the humidity and temperature, the fewer the dust mites. Since you need to achieve a low humidity for most of the time, you will likely need to acquire a dehumidifier. You can monitor moisture levels by getting a digital hygrometer. Most air conditioning units also have a dehumidifying setting. If the out-side air is warmer and more humid than your house, you also need to keep the windows closed for most of the time.
4. Keep upholstered furniture, carpeting, and other places where dust and dust mites tend to settle to a minimum. Buy furniture that can be wiped, substitute carpets with a wooden or tiled floor, and replace curtains by shades. If you must/want to keep some rugs, scrub them several times per year with water and soap and hose them down. Then leave them out in the sun until they are completely dry. Just baking them in the sun for 3 hours will kill the dust mites, but it won’t remove the allergens.
5. Consider buying breathable, woven dust-mite covers to effectively control dust mites in your bedroom. Your bedroom is the most crucial place when it comes to dust mite control. We continue to shed skin flakes while we sleep and by perspiring also elevate the relative humidity. On average, we spend about eight hours every day in our bedroom! Dust mites thrive under these conditions and tend to settle in mattresses, pillows, and blankets. Because they are so tiny, mites can easily permeate standard bed and pillow covers and invade our mattresses and box springs.
Special dust-mite-proof encasings have pores that are smaller than dust mites, effectively trapping and starving them.
6. Only buy washable stuffed toys for your children, and regularly treat them by freezing them for 16 hours or more at < 5°F (-15°C). This will kill the dust mites. Then wash the toys to remove the dead mites and their allergens.
7. Try nose filters for allergies that block airborne allergens: These innovative little devices can offer further relief and come in really handy when you cannot control your environment, such as on an airplane or in a hotel. Nose filters are almost invisible because they go directly in you nostrils.
Also read our post “Dust Mite Test Kits Help to Reduce Allergen Levels in Your Home.”
If you live in a humid climate, you may not be able to completely get rid of dust mites in your house. But – you should be able to control their numbers to tolerable levels by following these steps.
We wish your all the best of luck busting dust mites, and most importantly – Good health