Argh! Dust mites! Dust mites are microscopic creatures that survive and thrive on dead human skin flakes. They love dark, moist, and warm places. Believe it or not, there are colonies of dust mites in every home. Why haven’t you noticed? Because you are lucky enough not to be sensitive or allergic to dust mites. But that’s not the case with all those people suffering dust mite allergies and severe dust mite sensitivities.
What are the symptoms of a dust mite allergy? Mild dust mite allergy symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, nasal congestion or postnasal drip, cough. Beware a frequent upward rubbing of the nose in children since that might be a sign of dust mite allergy. Severe allergy symptoms might even contribute to asthma and might include breathing difficulty and chest tightness.
But don’t worry, dust mites don’t bite! They’ve got pretty much skin flakes at home to survive on without having to bite you. One less thing to worry about. But the allergens they release can cause rashes to the skin.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep them under control. We’ve compiled 11 easy, effective, and yet natural ways to get control over dust mites.
Tip #1: Get the temperature and the humidity levels down
The optimal temperature for dust mites to feast in is between 66°F to 86°F. All the places with humidity levels between 70% and 80% at your home will feel like heaven to these tiny bugs. No wonder they are found mainly in the place we spend most of our time: the bed.
In order for you to reduce the impact dust mites have on your health you’d better work on getting both temperature and humidity levels down. Your home ventilation matters. Let some fresh air in, open the windows while taking a bath, and while you cook so that the humidity level doesn’t go up. Use a dehumidifier if living in a humid area.
Tip #2: Dust frequently
Well, they all live in dust. In fact, dust on hard surfaces will not be their best place to survive and strive since what they really need is moisture and warmth. But frequent dusting of all surfaces that need dusting at home will surely help you get the dust mites under control. Talking dusting, here are several rules you should follow so as to be effective:
- Forget about dry clothes and feather dusters. They might make the dust mites airborne, which is definitely not good for you. Use a damp wet cloth instead.
- Remove or reduce all the dust-catching items, especially in the bedroom. Reduce the soft toys if you have kids since they are like a magnet for dust. Wash them with hot water regularly or place them in the freezer every two weeks for about 8 hours.
- Dust during the day so that you let the airborne dust mites settle down before it’s time to sleep. Avoid dusting before going to bed.
Tip #3: Vacuum floors, carpets, rugs, and even your mattresses
Don’t vacuum before going to bed. Give it at least two hours or even better always vacuum during the day. Do not forget to vacuum all the fans at home. Use a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner. It’s a filter that can trap small particles rather than recirculating them back in the air.
Vacuum your mattresses as well. This will help them air out better and reduce the moisture accumulated inside during the night. The less moisture, the fewer dust mites.
Tip #4: Reduce synthetic floor textiles
Most of the synthetic non-breathable carpets and rugs are the perfect dust mite and allergens setting. Hard floors are the best option (you can vacuum, mop, and steam them) thus killing and cleaning all the dust mites. Nothing can beat the coziness of a warm rug in the winter, however. If you are a rug lover, bet on dust mite resistant options. Wool is naturally dust mite resistant. As a bonus, wool carpets and rugs will not only repel dust mites but also trap the toxic VOCs at your home. Choosing smaller rug pieces will also help in the fight since you will be able to easily wash them.
Tip #5: Add some drops of eucalyptus oil to the laundry
You can’t go wrong with eucalyptus. This magical plant will definitely turn your home into a pleasant aroma island but it will also help you win over dust mites! You can even put it in the laundry, so do not hesitate to add a drop of eucalyptus essential oil in it when you wash your bedding. A study done by the University of Sydney, Australia, says that adding Eucalyptus oil to your wash will eliminate 99% of dust mites from the bedding.
Tip #6: Sunbathe your bedding
You already know that your wool-filled pieces would love some sunlight. Well, the same goes for all your other bedding pieces (wool or not): sheets, pillowcases, duvets, comforters, sleeping pillow inserts, mattresses, and toppers. Once a month let your bedding outside in the sun for an hour, two, or even more. Sunlight will kill not only the dust mites but all the other bacteria that have been accumulated in them over time.
Tip #7: Give it some heat
Hot wash is a must especially if you are allergic or sensitive to dust mites. Hot tumble drying and ironing the bedding and all the linens will also help you to get control over and reduce dust mites. Steam clean the carpets.
Tip #8: Use washable covers for your mattresses and bedding
Both dust-mite proof covers and regular washable covers will help you get control over dust mites. Just put a protective zip-off mattress cover or a pillow protector. They will both expand the life span of your bedding and be a washable barrier between you and the mites. Don’t forget to regularly wash the covers. You can even take the pillow protectors with you on holidays to put over hotel pillows. Just in case.
Tip #9: Leave the bed unmade
According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental and Applied Acarology, leaving your bed unmade during the day gives your mattresses and bedding the chance to breathe, resulting in fewer dust mites. So don’t forget to leave the mattress, the pillows, and the duvet inserts without sheets or covers for an hour or two at least once a month so that they can air out the accumulated moisture. Don’t be in a haste to make up the bed every morning. Leaving it unmade during the morning rituals and coffee time will also help it air out better.
Tip #10: Next time you buy bedding, make sure that it’s dust mite repellent wool bedding
The biggest enemy of dust mites is wool! They just cannot stand the lanolin. The structure of the wool fibers is anything by inviting to dust mites. Wool has the ability to wick away moisture and thus it creates dry and cool environment that is somehow hostile to dust mites. That is why wool bedding is a better option than any other kind of bedding, especially when it comes to dust mites protection.
Tip #11: Regularly groom the pets outside and keep them out of the bed
Ok, we have to face it! As much as we love our pets, they’d better stay away from our beds and sofas if we are sensitive to dust mites. The reason is that the dander they shed adds up to the generous supply of food the dust mites need to strive on. Grooming your pet regularly will reduce shedding. Doing it outside will reduce the airborne flakes inside. Make sure to use a pet bed with a washable cover, dust mite repellent fabrics, and filling. Wash the pet bed covers separately and sunbathe them regularly.