Dust is all around us in our homes, workplace, and vehicles. And where there are humans and dust, there are dust mites. Dust mites, or bed mites as they are sometimes called, are tiny insects (spiderlike arachnids) that feed off dead skin flakes found on sheets, pillows, fabric, and dust around your home. While they don't bite like bed bugs or head lice or spread disease, they can aggravate allergies and asthma. It is the excrement waste from the mites that cause allergic responses.
They are too small to be seen with the naked eye, and the highest concentrations are found in carpeting, mattresses and bedding, upholstered furniture and stuffed animals. Because they are so small, they float into the air when a fabric is disturbed, when carpet is walked on, or when a vacuum is used. It is when they float that the dust mite droppings and pieces of dead dust mites most aggravate allergies and can even cause asthma.
Fortunately, you can decrease the number of dust mite droppings by doing laundry often and handling fabrics correctly.
Of course, some fabric-covered items like mattresses, box springs, and upholstered furniture cannot be easily washed. To remove dust mites, consider a fabric allergen sanitizer vacuum. These vacuums use ultraviolet light to kill dust mites and bacteria and then a dual filtration system to eliminate 99.9 percent of the offenders from fabric surfaces.
In Bedding and Bedrooms
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments and multiply quickly and easily, especially in summer months. Consider changing your pillow cases more frequently than the rest of your bedding—like every other day.
On Bathroom Towels and Bathmats
Dust mites thrive in the humidity of a bathroom. Towels and bathmats should be hung to dry thoroughly and as quickly as possible after each use. Towels and bath mats should be washed at least after two or three uses and in hot water.
We spend a great deal of time in the bedroom, where direct skin contact with bed linens makes the perfect spot for dust mites to thrive. Since one of the keys to controlling the mites is the frequent washing of fabrics, it is important to select linens that can withstand frequent washing.
If you have a dust mite problem in your home, bedding—sheets, blankets, and bed covers—should be washed at least weekly in hot water (130 to 140 F) to kill the mites. Cold water will not always be as effective. However, if you prefer to use cold water, be sure to tumble dry the linens in a hot dryer for at least ten consecutive minutes at 130 F to kill the mites.
Bed pillows should also be washed regularly. “Mite-proof” cases on should be placed on all mattresses and pillows. Those covers should be washed at least monthly.
On Stuffed Toys
Stuffed toys should be washed frequently—especially if the child sleeps with the toy. Most fabric toys can also be cleaned.
On Curtains and Household Fabrics
The key to controlling dust mites is to reduce the number of places they can thrive. Removing wall-to-wall carpeting is one of the best steps. However, it is important to regularly clean area rugs and wash throw rugs. If you do have wall-to-wall carpet, have it steam cleaned regularly because the heat of the steam will kill the dust mites.
Choose leather or vinyl upholstery rather than fabric. Or, make the upholstery easier to clean by using washable accessories like sofa covers and removable covers on throw pillows. Use a dust mite sanitizer vacuum on fabrics that cannot be washed.
Skip heavy drapes that can not be washed. Opt for washable fabrics, shades, blinds, or shutters.
In addition to regular vacuuming and dusting, remove as many dust collectors like artificial flowers, bric-a-brac, and fabric wall hangings from the home, especially the bedroom.
Dust Mites. American Lung Association.
Lah, Ernieenor Faraliana Che, et al. Effect of Germicidal UV-C Light(254 Nm) on Eggs and Adult of House Dustmites, Dermatophagoides Pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides Farinae (Astigmata: Pyroglyhidae). Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, vol. 2, no. 9, 2012, pp. 679–683., doi:10.1016/s2221-1691(12)60209-3