Dust mites are everywhere in our homes, but they are found in the highest concentrations on surfaces that trap dust, like mattresses, curtains, and carpeting that can't be washed regularly. Unfortunately, that's also where we spend most of our time—bedrooms and living areas.
What Are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are microscopic, arachnids that feed on the dead human skin cells we are constantly shedding. Unlike lice or bed bugs, they are not parasites that bite, sting, or burrow into our skin. However, people can have reactions by inhaling the proteins in dust that come from dust mite feces, urine, or decaying bodies.
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments like our beds. However, frequent cleaning, including washing bed sheets every week, making some smart bedding choices, and thorough cleaning can help get rid of dust mites in a mattress.
How Often to Get Rid of Dust Mites in a Mattress
If your mattress is not encased in a dust mite-proof case and you suffer from allergic reactions, you should vacuum your mattress at least monthly to reduce the number of dust mites. If the mattress has a dust-proof cover that is cleaned frequently, then a twice-yearly cleaning should be all that is needed.
Equipment / Tools
- Vacuum with a hose and an upholstery brush attachment
- Steam cleaner
- Dust-proof mattress protector
- Dust-proof pillow protectors
- Soft-bristled brush
- Baking soda
Remove All of the Bedding
Remove the bedcovers, sheets, pillowcases, mattress protector, and dust-proof cover from the mattress. If you have encased the bed pillows and box springs with a cover (and you should), remove them as well.
Wash the Bedding
Wash the bedding and dust covers with your regular detergent in warm water. To ensure that all of the dust mites have been killed, dry in an automatic dryer at a high temperature for at least 10 minutes.
Vacuum the Mattress
Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, hose, and an upholstery brush attachment to vacuum every surface of the mattress. Don't forget the sides and the box springs and vacuum or dust the bedframe as well.
Replace the Protective Covers and Bedding
When the bed is fully dry, replace the protective dust mite mattress cases and bedding.
Tips to Keep Mattress Dust Mites Under Control
- Cover your mattress, box springs, and pillows with insect and dust-proof covers. The covers can be made from non-porous materials like vinyl or plastic or a more breathable material like microfiber polyester or nylon, or even cotton that is tightly woven.
- Wash bedding at least weekly. If you don't want to wash your comforter or bedspread that frequently, you can place it in an automatic dryer on air-only to help remove dust and dust mites.
- Remove excess items from the bed. Stuffed animals and decorative pillows harbor dust mites.
- Reduce the humidity level in the bedroom to around 50 percent by using a dehumidifier, air conditioning, and running bathroom exhaust fans.
- Lower the temperature to at least 68 degrees in the bedroom. This won't prevent dust mites but it will slow their breeding cycle.
- Allow the bedding to air and dry for a few minutes before you make the bed each morning.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpeting and heavy drapes from the bedroom to reduce the level of dust in the room.
- Use hypoallergenic pillows and mattresses. Latex foam mattresses are less hospitable to dust mites than those with cotton padding. Use foam pillows instead of down or feathers.
- Upgrade your HVAC filters to HEPA filters and replace or clean them regularly.
- Ban pets from the bedroom. Dust mites thrive in animal dander.