Do you ever wake up with a headache, itchy eyes or congestion? Many people believe their allergies are a result of changes in the weather, mold and pollen, which could all be true, but allergies can also be caused by household dust mites. Dust mites feed on dead skin, and people shed enough of it each day to feed millions of them. Invisible to the naked eye, these little guys are easy to ignore until they become a respiratory irritant. It is impossible to eliminate dust mites entirely from your home, but there are ways to greatly reduce them.
Dust mites are tiny cream-colored organisms that live off organic materials like dead skin flakes or dust, making our homes the perfect feasting grounds. These little guys live in our carpets, pillows, mattresses, beds and rugs because they provide both food and moisture. The average bed is home to anywhere from 100,000-10,000,000 dust mites. Our health is not affected by dust mites themselves, but by the allergens they produce in their feces, which we can inhale into our lungs.
Ridding your home of dust mites (the green way).
- Wash your bedding once a week with hot water. While this is not energy efficient, cold water will not kill dust mites.
- Eucalyptus essential oils kill dust mites. Combine 2 cups of distilled water, 5 drops of organic liquid soap and 30 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and spray it on your bed daily to keep the dust mites at bay.
- Keep the temperature in your room relatively cool. Dust mites prefer warmer climates.
- Add some plants to your bedroom. They regulate the level of humidity in the room, which in turn can help reduce dust mites.
- Purchase a dehumidifier. This will help regulate humidity which will make it less inhabitable for dust mites.
- Purchase an organic, natural latex mattress. These mattresses fight dust mites and are free of fire retardants and synthetic chemicals, which are sprayed on most traditional mattresses. These are about double the cost, but well worth it.
- Purchase all-natural, untreated organic dust mite pillow and mattress covers. They are a small investment, and can help eliminate dust mites from your bedding.
- Purchase an air mattress. Dust mites can’t inhabit this inexpensive bedding alternative.
- Carpet is a breeding ground for dust mites, and the best option is to eliminate it from your home altogether. If you can’t do this, vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Dust with a damp cloth so it actually collects the dust mites instead of spreading them. Add a few drops of organic eucalyptus and wintergreen essential oils to the damp cloth to kill the dust mites while you collect them.
- 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.