Controlling Dust Mites in Your Home
A clean home. It seems like it'd be a big part in reducing dust mites and dust mite allergies, right? Yes, but how well-dusted a room is won't take care of the problem, and since it's pretty much impossible to remove all dust particles it's also impossible to remove all dust mites.
Dust mites are vulnerable to low humidity levels and high temperatures, and dust mite preventative strategies often include a combination of strategic cleaning, hot water and controlling the humidity levels in your home. Let's look at the bedroom first, since we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping -- and since bedding is a popular spot for dust mites to gather.
Most often, the highest concentrations of dust mites are found in our beds, including the mattress, pillows and bedding. Researchers have found that after just one to two years, your pillow may contain as much as 10 to 25 percent dust mite waste [source: DustMiteFacts.org]. Experts recommend encasing your mattress and box spring, as well as those pillows, in air-tight zippered covers. Wash all bedding, from sheets to blankets to pillows, a minimum of once per week in very hot water, at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit (which is higher than what most hot water heaters are often set to) because cooler water temperatures will leave dust mites and their allergens behind.
In addition to bedding, dust mites are often found in carpeting and upholstered and overstuffed furniture, as well as in drapes and stuffed toys. Replace any wall-to-wall carpeting with hard flooring, and use special filters (HEPA, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air) with your vacuum cleaner to reduce the number of dust mites in carpeting and furniture, as well as the number of particles that release into the air during cleaning. If you suffer from a dust mite allergy, also consider wearing an allergy mask while cleaning to avoid breathing in dust stirred up in the cleaning process. Concerned about removing dust mites from items that can't be thrown into the washer and dryer? Freezing may help. Place the item in your freezer for no less than 24 hours to kill any dust mites living within. Alternatively, dry cleaning fabrics will remove dust mites.
Finally, reduce the humidity level in your home with the help of a dehumidifier or an air conditioner. Ideally you want to keep the moisture level below 50 percent to make the environment undesirable for dust mites.
By removing the places dust mites like to gather, such as carpeting, and encasing and cleaning items that you can't live without, such as your mattress, it's possible to significantly reduce the number of dust mites in your home, despite not being able to completely live without them.
More Great Links
- Alliance for Healthy Homes. "Dust Mites." (June 20, 2011) http://www.afhh.org/hhe/hhe_dust_mites.htm
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "Dust Allergy." (June 20, 2011) http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/dust-allergy-information/Pages/indoor-allergies-relief.aspx
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "Allergy Facts and Figures." (June 20, 2011) http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=30
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "Dust Mites." (June 20, 2011) http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=228
- DustMites.org. (June 20, 2011) http://www.dustmites.org/
- DustMiteFacts.org. "FAQs." (June 20, 2011) http://www.dustmitefacts.org/faq.php
- MayoClinic. "Dust mite allergy: Symptoms." 2010. (June 20, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dust-mites/DS00842/DSECTION=symptoms
- MedicineNet. "Allergy: What causes allergies?" 2007. (June 20, 2011) http://www.medicinenet.com/allergy/page2.htm#toc2at
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences – National Institutes of Health. "Dust Mites." 2011. (June 20, 2011) http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/asthma/allergens/dustmites/index.cfm
- Ogg, Barb. "Managing House Dust Mites." University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (June 20, 2011) http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/dustmites311.shtml
- The Patient Education Institute. "X-Plain Dust Mite Allergy Reference Summary." 2008. (June 20, 2011) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/allergiestodustmites/id039203.pdf
- WebMD. "Dust Allergies." 2009. (June 20, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/allergies/dust-allergies