First off, homes cannot be allergen-free, but we can reduce exposure to significant indoor allergens. Dust mites are a substantial source of allergen in homes and, by extension, a key trigger of allergic respiratory disease. Therefore, avoiding this allergen is essential in managing these conditions. Thus, let us gain some know-how on what dust mites are and how to remove them.
What Are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in household dust. They are attracted to household items that collect skin cells, such as bedding, carpet, sofas, clothing, and stuffed animals. So, these arachnids work their way into them.
Dust mites thrive in homes since they feed on dead skin cells, found in almost every place you spend most of the time.
While they are not particularly harmful, their dead body parts and excrement can be responsible for many health complications.
Symptoms of Exposure to Dust Mite Allergens?
Exposure to dust mites can lead a person to develop symptoms of respiratory or dermatological conditions such as:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red, or watery eyes
- Itchy nose, mouth, or throat
- Itchy skin that could lead to complications such as eczema
- Postnasal drip
Dust mites complications tend to be severe for people with asthma; hence they may experience the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
- Shortness of breath and coughing
How To Remove Dust Mites From Your Home
The best way to control dust mite allergies is to avoid exposure to them. There are several proven ways of combating dust mites. All reduction recommendations are based on the principle of reducing or isolating the source.
The following methods are environmentally friendly and effective when eliminating dust mites.
Regularly Vacuum Living Surfaces
Vacuum carpets and textile furniture regularly, ideally once per day. However, vacuum cleaners cannot prevent the accumulation of debris, including human skin scales in carpets and soft surfaces, where living dust mites typically thrive. At the slightest disturbance, their waste particles and body fragments quickly get airborne. Then they can be easily inhaled.
In other words, vacuuming alone cannot remove dust allergens floating in the air. Hence, it is advisable to use steam cleaning or a HEPA* filter-equipped vacuum to reduce mite allergens.
*HEPA = high-efficiency particulate air
Regularly Clean Your Bedding
Researchers estimate that over 10 million dust mites live in your mattress, pillows, and bedsheets at any time.
One of the best ways to kill dust mites in your home, especially the bedroom, is to regularly wash your pillowcases, sheets, blankets, and covers in hot water (above 60ºC or above 130 ºF) and then dry them on the same hot setting for at least 15 minutes.
If you use a steamer to clean your mattress, the exact temperatures above will kill most dust mites.
Additionally, you can consider washing the beddings with an allergen-reducing laundry detergent or using allergen-proof bed covers to cut the dust mites’ food supply. Finally, you can freeze non-washable items for 24 hours to help kill dust mites. Still, it won’t be as effective at removing the allergens.
Regularly clean your carpets, curtains, and soft furnishings.
Clean hard surfaces like the floor and walls using a damp mop daily. Wet mopping will help reduce the amount of dust mite allergens that creep back up into the air.
Dust mites love to live in carpets because carpets are the perfect environment for trapping dead skin and pet dander. One of the best ways to get rid of dust mites in your home is by removing carpets and swapping with hard floors. However, If that’s not an option, you can steam clean the carpets, although it will not eradicate the dust mites.
Soft furnishings such as throw pillows are the ideal home of dust mites as this type of fabric captures the dust and moisture in the air that dust mites love. Therefore it is recommended that you steam clean them and shake them out in the garden. However, cutting down on soft furnishings altogether is a viable (and maybe even necessary) option for people with dust mite allergies.
Also, remember to wash soft toys and pet bedding regularly in hot water.
Regularly Dust Surfaces
Regular dusting will give allergen-producing dust mites fewer places and conditions to breed. When dusting, use a damp or oiled mop or rag rather than dry materials like feather dusters and brooms to clean up the dust. This approach prevents dust from becoming airborne and resettling.
Dust mites thrive in room temperatures between 24°C and 27°C, and humidity at around 70 percent to 80 percent.
Therefore you can minimize the growth of dust mites by keeping your home’s humidity below 50 percent.
Consider using air conditioning and dehumidifiers in humid areas and keep windows open for at least one hour per day to help remove humidity from the house in dry areas.
Regularly Groom Your Pets
Pets shed a lot of dander, which adds to dust mites’ food supply. So, dust mites plus pet dander equals a perfect breeding place. Hence, it is crucial to groom your pets regularly and hot wash their bedding once a week, to keep dust mites at bay.
Consider keeping your pets off the bed and, ideally, out of the bedroom.
Use Diatomaceous Earth powder
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder obtained from sedimentary rocks. This multipurpose substance works on any bug with an exoskeleton, such as dust mites.
Ensure that the diatomaceous earth is food-grade or non-crystalline and is rated for mites, which should ideally be sprinkled on your carpet and fabrics. Be sure to leave it in place for two to three days to dehydrate the dust mites fully, and then vacuum thoroughly.
A natural remedy you could also try is tea tree oil. It is a natural antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal oil that research has demonstrated to kill dust mites. Use it by mixing two cups of distilled water with two tablespoons of tea tree oil and two tablespoons of eucalyptus oil in a dark spray bottle and then spraying it liberally onto bedding, furniture, and carpets at least once a week.
One of its perks is that it will make your home smell nice.