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Homesthetics

What Are Dust Mites And How To Get Rid Of Them

Dust mites – the very mention of the word conjures up a number of hideous images in your head. You picture blood-sucking creepy crawlies with alien-like features who infest your house.

Although dust mites aren’t quite that insidious, they are microscopic arachnids (of the same family as spiders) and feed on dead skin which flakes off from you, your pets and everyone else as you move around the house.

They are found literally everywhere in your house – but most commonly in pillows, linen, beddings, blankets, toys, furniture, upholstery, carpets and curtains. They prefer warm and humid environments.

What Are Dust Mites And How To Get Rid Of Them

What Harm Do Dust Mites Cause?

Although dust mites don’t cause or carry any severe illnesses, they do leave behind a disproportionately large amount of droppings. This feces can trigger some adverse reactions in people who have asthma, or people who have allergies and sensitivity to dust.

Although the majority of people aren’t affected by dust mites unless there is a massive number of them, an estimated 20 million Americans still have to suffer dust mite related issues.

What Symptoms Does Dust Mite Allergy Have?

A person may be allergic to chitin (a significant component of the dust mite body) and the digestive enzyme DerP1 (present in their feces and carcasses). This mixes with dust and becomes airborne. Thus, the air becomes contaminated as a result.

The unsavory things they feast on and their feces are gross enough for all of us, but there is also a slight genetic component attached to dust mite allergies, which means some unfortunate souls are more likely to suffer than others.

Because of this, dust mites can irritate respiratory systems and sinuses just like pollen, mold or other seasonal allergies.

The symptoms include a stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes that are red and watery, and irritated skin.

How you can figure out you have an allergy to dust mites and not something else, is that a dust mite allergy doesn’t cause fevers. 

Note: If you have bite marks on your skin and you don’t have an explanation for it, it probably wasn’t the bed bugs. Bed bugs are microscopic creatures, and they do not bite.

Also, if upon very close inspection, you see a small bug-like creature on your bed or couch, know that’s not a dust mite either – it’s probably a bedbug or something else. There is no way you can see dust mites with your naked eyes.

closeup common household dust on HEPA (High efficiency particulate air) filter from the vacuum cleaner.

So How Can You Get Rid Of Them?

While it’s hard and almost impossible to rid a house of dust mites completely, you can drastically reduce the quantity of them, by following a few steps.

  1. Use a vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaning is the best way to get rid of dust, dead skin, and microbial feces. However, the problem is that dust can easily be blown around, which is why dust mites can be airborne.

You need to ensure your vacuum does not release dust particles back into the air after cleaning it up. The key here is to use a vacuum outfitted with a HEPA filter. Hepa stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air.

What the HEPA filter does is traps all the allergens and disease-causing particulate matter in the air, thereby filtering the air and making it cleaner.

It’s best to vacuum as soon as possible and definitely more often than once a week. When you are vacuuming, remember to clean cracks, crevices, gaps in the floorboards, the area underneath your carpets or couches or tables and chairs. Also vacuum your upholstery as well, the sofas and mattresses and what have you. They are prime locations for dust-mite infestations.

  1. Dust with a damp cloth

We’ve already talked about the unsavory dietary habits of dust mites. Most of the food they eat gets collected into dust particles and settles down at various corners of the house. Where there is dust, there is food for dust mites, and that is precisely where they prosper.

A damp cloth is perfect for wiping away dust. Remember to rinse the fabric to prevent the dust from spreading. Critical areas to dust include the top shelves of bookshelves, legs of furniture, pictures, etc. – any place that is likely to collect dust.

Tip: Microfiber rugs are also a good idea. They do a great job of taking out dust and dirt. Just make sure you wipe them in one direction only so you don’t end up releasing the dirt you just wiped up.  

  1. Wash your linens in hot water

Dust mites can’t survive temperatures beyond 130 or 140 Fahrenheit. Thus, you should wash your beddings in water which is at least that hot. Keep the clothes in the washing machine and wash them with hot water. When the washing is done, put them on the dryer and let them dry out on the hot setting.

  1. Wash your curtains, drapes, and carpets

Also, remember to wash curtains or drapes. Some curtains or drapes can only be dry-washed though. None of us wash our curtains as often as we should. Some curtains, on the other hand, can just be dry washed.

Carpets are a hotbed of attracting dust mites. Their very texture is to absorb dust and dirt so that your house stays clean. The better your carpet is, the more grime and dust it has collected over the years. It comes as no surprise that carpets are often the worst affected when it comes to dust mite infestations.

  1. Consider steam cleaning

Steam cleaning is the new kid on the block. It is the most eco-friendly method of cleaning as it does not use any harmful chemicals.

It is also an absolute godsend for people who are sensitive to allergies or asthma. Steam cleaning will definitely exterminate 99.9% of germs when the temperature is kept above 130 Fahrenheit.

Tip: While cleaning, it is always advisable to wear gloves and a dust mask to keep dust from getting into your face.  

  1. Freeze the items which you can’t wash

Some items you just can’t wash, for example, your kids’ or your pets’ favorite toy. And you definitely don’t want to hot wash delicate, expensive fabrics.

In all such cases, it’s a great idea to freeze them. Just load them into a plastic bag and put them into the freezer. Freeze for 24 hours.

  1. Create an anti-dust-mite environment by reducing humidity levels

Humidity is your biggest enemy and dust-mites biggest ally. Unfortunately, if you live in a very humid place, you can’t really do much about the weather. At least ensure that you put an air conditioner or a dehumidifier in your bedroom and maybe in the living room as well – wherever there is a large amount of seat cushion.

If you don’t have an air conditioner, you can decrease the humidity by opening the windows on a dry, windy day. Also, make sure you keep your bathroom doors closed while taking a bath. Consider installing a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels in your house. Ideally, the humidity level should be well below 55%.

  1. Turn down the temperature

Dust mites love temperatures between 75 and 80 F. So make sure you keep the temperature lower than this. In winter, this problem will take care of itself.

However, in summer, use loads of fans, air conditioners and keep the windows open to ensure heat and humidity don’t pile up. Dust mites do not thrive in sunlight, so consider opening all your windows.

Tip:  Keeping your windows open will also ventilate your house, keeping humidity levels low, and it will air out dust and dust mites.

  1. Give special attention to kitchens

Kitchens often bear the worst of the brunt as cooking utensils, and items generate a lot of heat and humidity. On top of that, small particles of rotting foodstuff attract other insects and mites. All of this creates ideal living conditions for dust mites.

Whenever you’re cooking, use a chimney or a fan or some sort of vent to air out cooking fumes and smoke. The smell of the food won’t just attract your children and your pet, it will also attract a hoard of dust mites as well.

Don’t just let the dishes pile up in the sink. Clean them as soon as you can and also give your kitchen a thorough cleaning ever so often, taking care that you reach the furthermost corners of your shelves and kitchen drawers.

  1. Disinfect The Furniture

Use a disinfectant spray like Lysol all over the furniture and those places where it’s hard to clean with a cloth. Remember to spray on all corners and edges of your furniture. Spraying anti-allergens all over your house is an absolute necessity for people who suffer from allergies.

Whenever you vacuum, consider spraying baking soda as it is a great disinfectant. While you are cleaning, you can also use something highly acidic such as vinegar. Dust mites are tiny creatures, and they don’t stand a chance against strong disinfectants.

  1. Use Eucalyptus Oil

Certain oils, like Eucalyptus, are especially proficient at killing germs. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oils to your clothes when you put them in the washing machine.

If you use a spray to clean your house, consider adding a few drops of oil to the spray solution as well. Then spray this solution on your bed, pillows, toys, carpets and other places which can be a home for dust mites.

  1. Declutter Your House

Unnecessary items, which aren’t used that often, tend to clutter up the house. They attract and trap a lot of dust, making for ideal environments for dust-mites.

The best way to get rid of dust mites is to cut out their food, and you can do that by getting rid of unnecessary items which simply sit around and collect dust.

These items most often include:

  1. Old Books
  2. Unused toys
  3. Picture frames
  4. Old trinkets

We understand that these products might have sentimental value and it might be hard to get rid of them. If you don’t want to get rid of them, consider wrapping them up with a large, big sheet of plastic.

  1. Groom your pets regularly

If you have pets in the house, then another huge source of nutrition for dust mites is pet dander. Take your dogs out regularly to give them a thorough brushing. Also, clean your house to remove fur and dander.

Give your pets baths as frequently as possible. Remember, your pets can also be allergic to dust mites, so you’re doing this for the both of you.

  1. Consider replacing your household stuff with hypoallergenic varieties

If you can’t get rid of dust mites by simply cleaning, it’s time for more drastic measures which include replacing the equipment in your house with stuff that doesn’t attract dust mites.

Carpets are usually the prime culprit responsible for hosting the majority of dust mites. Maybe it’s time to think of replacing that carpet with hardwood or linoleum flooring.

Drapes and curtains collect a lot of dust as well. Consider replacing them with plastic blinds or wooden shutters which are easier to clean. They also don’t attract dust mites as much as fabrics do.

But most importantly, get a dust-mite proof mattress. Get yourself some hypoallergenic pillow covers and blankets as well. These covers protect dust mites from entering the pillows and bed and also provide you protection from the dust mites which are already there.

If you want even more tips, check out this comprehensive, detailed article on how to avoid having dust mites entirely.

Final Words

Well, that’s it from us today. Dust-mites can be annoying and can cause serious problems if you’re sensitive to them. However, it’s a problem that can be solved just by employing a few tips and general practices in your life.

Live safe, live healthily, live long!

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