Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Dust mites are eight-legged microscopic creatures that live on your skin and in bedding. They thrive in warm, humid environments and are a big source of allergies. These pesky mites eat human skin cells that you naturally shed every day.
Unfortunately, dust mites can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in some people. If you're allergic to dust mites, eradicating the pesky creatures is a must to tame allergy symptoms. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce your exposure to these critters, so they don’t aggravate allergy symptoms. But how can youdo that? Here are seven simple ways to reduce dust mites in your home.
Vacuum Furniture And Carpeting
If you suspect you have a dust mite allergy, vacuum your furniture, and carpets often. Vacuums with a HEPA filter will reduce dust mites in your home, as well as remove other allergens like pet dander or mold spores.
If there are hard-to-reach areas of your home that you can’t vacuum, use a crevice tool to get into those tight spaces. Focus on vacuuming baseboards and along the edges of furniture where dust mites like to hide. Finally, wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth after vacuuming—this will remove residual allergens left behind.
Dust mites love to live in dark places where there is plenty of food – such as bedding and blankets. Clutter around your home provides an ideal breeding ground for these creatures. So, remove all unnecessary items from your house (especially soft furnishings). If you have curtains or drapes that you can’t wash or clean frequently, replace them with blinds that you are easier to clean and won’t attract dust mites.
Remove Cloth Upholstered Furniture
Eliminate cloth-upholstered furniture from your home because dust mites tend to thrive on upholstery. If you have leather furniture or upholstered pieces made from wool or cotton fabrics, clean them regularly with a vacuum cleaner designed for allergy sufferers or have them professionally cleaned.
Keep The Humidity Low
The most important thing you can do to keep dust mite populations down is to keep humidity levels low. A study found it's best to keep humidity in your home under 51% to minimize the impact of dust mites on allergy symptoms. The easiest way to achieve this humidity is by using a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. Before investing in one, find out if your home has high levels of humidity. You can buy a hygrometer (a device that measures humidity) at any hardware store for about $10.
Dehumidifiers work by removing moisture from the air, which dust mites need to survive. A dehumidifier may not eliminate all your dust mite problems on its own, but it will help keep them under control.
Wash Your Sheets Weekly in Hot Water
Dust mites are everywhere, including your bed sheets. Wash your sheets weekly in hot water to kill dust mites. Another option is to use the hot dryer cycle on your washing machine or hang the sheets outside on a sunny day. This will kill any remaining dust mites that may have survived the hot water.
Cover Mattresses and Pillows In All-Cotton Covers
Cover your mattresses and pillows in all-cotton covers. Cotton is a natural material that is resistant to dust mites, and it’s breathable so it allows your mattress or pillow to breathe. You can buy all-cotton covers from most department stores, but they can be expensive. If you want to save money and have time on your hands, make your own covers.
The easiest way to make your own is by sewing a cotton envelope back and forth across the top edge of your sheet (or flat sheet), leaving about 2 inches2 inches~6cm on either side open for turning inside out when you're done. Then simply sew up each side that's left open until it's closed securely around the entire perimeter of the bedding set.
Steer clear of down comforters, duvets, upholstered, and carpeting. Choose leather, wood or easy to clean surfaces instead.
Use Dust Mite Proof Mattress And Pillow Encasements
Invest in a dust mite-proof mattress and pillow encasements you can launder frequently. Wash these items in hot water, at least once a week. Use a laundry detergent specially formulated for washing bedding. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets because they can make your bedding more attractive to dust mites.
Dry your encasements on high heat and hang them up to air-dry outside on a clothesline or rack (if you have one) rather than letting them sit in the dryer after washing them. Using both methods will help repel dust mites from your mattress as well as keep it clean.
You Can Defend Your Home Against Dust Mites
Dust mites can be a real nuisance, but there are simple steps you can take to control them. Hopefully, these tips will help you control dust mites in your own home.
- "Dust mite allergy - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic." 31 Jul. 2021, mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dust-mites/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352178.
- Aggarwal P, Senthilkumaran S. Dust Mite Allergy. 2022 May 1. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 32809553.
- "Dust Mite Allergy - PubMed." 12 Aug. 2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32809553/.
- Arlian LG, Neal JS, Morgan MS, Vyszenski-Moher DL, Rapp CM, Alexander AK. Reducing relative humidity is a practical way to control dust mites and their allergens in homes in temperate climates. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Jan;107(1):99-104. doi: 10.1067/mai.2001.112119. PMID: 11149998.