You can’t see them, but they’re all over your home. Dust mites live in your carpet, microfiber sofa, bedding, curtains, even your child’s stuffed animals. These tiny insects, visible only under a microscope, feed on dead skin and animal hair and are generally pretty harmless, but in large numbers can be really aggravating to those with allergies! In fact, dust mites are likely the most common cause of year-round allergy and asthma symptoms.
While dust mites can never be completely eradicated from your home, there are several easy steps you can take to significantly reduce the amount, so we can all breathe a little easier!
Put protective covers over on your mattress and pillows. These machine-washable covers are fairly inexpensive and can protect against dust mites, bacteria, and allergens. Taking a pillow cover with you on the road can help protect against potentially questionable hotel pillows.
Don’t make your bed right after you get out of it. Your bed is usually warm and humid right after you get up, which are prefect conditions for dust mites and bacteria to grow. So rather than cover it up right away and insulate that, your bed can benefit from a little time to air out. Go have your coffee and read the paper, THEN come back and make the bed!
One way to keep the growth of dust mites controlled is to maintain dry conditions in the home. If you live in a humid area, use a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity of your home below 50%.
Aim to wash your sheets and pillowcases in hot water once a week. While this may not be energy efficient, cold water will not kill dust mites. Also, according to a study at the University of Sydney Australia, adding Eucalyptus essential oil to your wash will eliminate 99% of dust mites from your bedding. The heat from the dryer should finish off the rest.
Put items such as blankets, sheets, pillows and curtains in a plastic bag in the freezer for 48 hours. This will kill the dust mites. Make sure you wash these items after they have been in the freezer to ensure the residue from the mites is gone.
While your sheets are in the wash, take a few minutes to vacuum your mattress! This process should be done once a month or so to eliminate dust mites and bacteria. For full details, visit my post on cleaning and freshening your mattress!
Regularly cleaning your home with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter can greatly reduce the amount of dust mites in your home. The powerful HEPA filter systems in modern vacuums can trap dust mites and other allergens and keep them from recirculating into your home.
While you’re probably already vacuuming your carpets regularly, make sure to vacuum upholstery, drapes, rugs, and any other soft materials regularly as well!
As the layer of dust inside your ducts builds up, it’s constantly re-circulating throughout your home, including dust mite debris that can trigger allergies. Clean the air vents in your home regularly. A thorough vacuuming and wipe-down with your cleaner of choice should suffice.
Dust with a damp cloth rather than a dry one, or use a dusting spray like my all-natural DIY dusting spray. Both of these methods of “wet-dusting” will help keep dust mites from becoming airborne and potentially aggravating your allergies further.
Make sure your air filters are being changed regularly. For added protection against dust mites and other allergens, purchase high performance filters designed for allergen reduction.
For those with allergies to dust mites, pollen, dander, etc. it can be helpful to wear a filter mask while cleaning to reduce your exposure to these allergens. A simple N95 mask will help keep allergens away from your nose and mouth.
Dust mites are impossible to avoid completely, but these simple changes to the environment inside your home will reduce the number of these unwanted “guests.”