What’s smaller than a grain of sand, lives in your home, and a reason for 70% of your respiratory allergies?
That would be the common household dust mite, a microscopic pest that can affect the way you breathe and sleep in your home.
They love to burrow in your fabric and feast on your skin cells. And, for this reason, your bed is the perfect place to make their home.
Unlike bed bugs, mites don't pose any significant health risks. However, dust mite proteins can trigger congestion, a run nose, watery eyes, and other allergic reactions. And once they settle into your mattress's fabric or within your pillow's filling material, it can be difficult to rid yourself of dust mite allergens.
In this article, you’ll learn how to get rid of these pesky critters if they’ve already moved in, the tools you can use to prevent dust mite populations from multiplying, and, ultimately, how to protect yourself and your home from mites for good.
What is a House Dust Mite?
Dust mites are microscopic bugs that feed on your dead skin cells. They live and die inside mattresses, upholstered furniture, bedding material like pillows and comforters, carpets and rugs, curtains, stuffed animals, and more. Anywhere you have fabric, there’s a potential for fathering dust mite allergens.
Box springs are a particular favorite of dust mites because they live undisturbed, invisible to the naked eye, for as long as you have your mattress.
When you take a look at a dust mite up close, you’ll see a critter that looks a bit like an arachnid.
This spider-like creature feeds off the dry flakes of human skin we constantly shed while also producing their feces. Since people shed more than 1 million tiny pieces of skin every day, that’s more than enough to keep the rapidly reproducing dust mite population alive and well.
As they live and die, they produce fecal matter and these droppings trigger a dust mite allergy in people who don’t know they exist. Any doctor will tell you that mites can make asthma attacks even worse.
Here are a few fast facts about dust mites:
Why Should I Worry About Dust Mites?
Dust mites have a bad reputation as one of nature's smallest causes of misery. Dust mite feeding habits don't discriminate between your body fragments and hair or dead skin cells from any other source.
According to the American Lung Association, dust mites in your bedding won’t bite, sting, or burrow. However, tiny dust mites can cause allergic reactions. So if you suffer from asthma or hay fever, then you need to know how to get rid of these irritating creatures from your home environment.
Where Do House Dust Mites Come From?
Dust mites appear naturally in nearly all houses. However, in general, humidity is the most crucial factor in determining how quickly dust mites reproduce.
Dust mites cannot drink water as humans can, so they rely on absorbing the moisture from the air. As a result, dust motes cannot survive in areas that are high in humidity or a desert-like climate. That’s why you’ll find them living near your bed where mattress materials trap sweat that collects every night.
How Do You Know If You Have House Dust Mites?
Have you ever been itchy but couldn't tell why? Well, dust mites could be the culprit. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that can cause dust mite allergies and really make a person miserable at night when they should be sleeping soundly in their bed!
Dust mite allergies may be an issue if you find that your symptoms become worse when cleaning or going to bed. This is when allergens are most active. If you suddenly find yourself sneezing or wheezing through the day, you may be allergic to dust mite species.
Many people turn to over the counter dust mite allergy medications or even steroids just for relief from these symptoms.
However, you can also invest in some high-quality mattress covers like the Essentia Body Guard. Made with natural cotton and waterproof laminate, the BodyGuard can offer maximum protection on beds that are not made of natural organic latex.
Allergy Symptoms from House Dust Mites
Dust mite allergy symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Symptoms can range anywhere from severe to mild, depending on how sensitive you are to dust mite feces.
What Does Dust Mite Rash Look Like?
Sometimes, you can experience a dust mite rash, which is a skin condition that typically occurs when dust mites invade the bedroom.
Signs of irritation on your skin include swelling, redness, and intense itching in areas like your neck or armpit due to an allergic reaction.
These symptoms may come with hives on the skin, which can cause sufferers significant discomfort and even pain at times. If you’re experiencing this kind of issue, it’s best to check with your doctor before treatment and ensure that it’s dust mites, not bed bugs.
How to Minimize Dust Mites
To keep dust mites out of your mattress, use a high thread count sheet or duvet cover. Wash bedding in hot water and dry clean it to kill all our pesky friends while making them easier for you to clean up after yourself.
Keeping bedroom surfaces as clutter-free as possible will also help lower the chance that they're around when you're sleeping. A neat environment is less hospitable for these microorganisms. Also, avoid using bedding with crushed feathers, wool, or down because it collects more dust than cotton does and has a higher likelihood of harboring bugs too!
Switching to an organic, allergen-friendly mattress takes away one of the dust mites’ favorite places to live. Hypoallergenic natural latex mattresses are harder for dust mites to burrow into, meaning your mattress needs less frequent cleaning while keeping you away from dust mite allergens all night long.
How to Get Rid Of Dust Mites
If you already have dust mites, don't fret! There are some easy ways to eliminate them.
Now, if you have dust mites in your mattress and don’t want to buy a new one just yet, try these tricks:
These tips will help prevent future infestations of blood-thirsty minor bugs that silently attack our slumbering bodies while we're entirely unaware!
Method #1: Regularly Wash Bedding in Hot Water
Washing your bedding in hot water is another way to reduce the risk of dust mites. In addition, clean sheets and blankets can help keep the dust mite population down.
Tip #2: Clean Your Room Regularly
Clean your room regularly. Dust mites love to populate dirty surfaces, so make sure you're getting rid of all the grime and dust that has accumulated in mattress crevices over time.
Tip #3: Reduce Humidity
Dust mites thrive anywhere you keep water.
Don't leave open jars of cream/lotion or moisturizer. If it is in a pump, then only use what you need and put the rest away to cut back on dust mites.
Avoid leaving pet bowls filled with water around. If your kitchen has an exhaust fan that diverts air outside, that vent needs to be cleaned. Make sure it's running even when not cooking to reduce humidity inside the house where these bugs thrive.
Areas in your home that are incredibly humid include bathrooms with showers or laundry rooms.Make sure to dry them up quickly after use by using fans which will circulate more air throughout the room.
Tip #4: Reduce the Places Where Dust Mites Can Grow
Dust mites also like to grow in areas with high skin cells, such as mattresses and pillows.
Try to keep carpeting or any upholstered furniture away from your bedroom, since dust mites produce more allergens when they live on these materials. Wash bedding at least once a week (in hot water) to kill any dust mites that may have grown there.
Avoid using softener sheets because the chemicals can irritate your skin or aggravate dust mite allergies even further.
To prevent the problem altogether, you will want to invest in mattress covers that trap body heat and keep out anything else like dirt, spills, sweat. Covers are hypoallergenic, so you don’t have to worry about allergic reactions.
Tip #5: Replace Carpets
Replace carpets if you have any with hard flooring instead — dust mites can't survive long without a fiber mat, so they're much less likely to be in the room with hard floors!
Stay away from upholstered furniture, too, because it reduces air circulation, which will make the dust mite allergen presence worse and produce more allergens for you when living with these materials.
Tip #6: Dust Regularly
No matter what you do, there will always be at least a small number of dust mites around. Dusting regularly will help keep the number of dust mites to a minimum.
Tip #7: Don’t Dust Before Going to Bed
You should avoid dusting your room right before heading to bed. Every time you dust, it disturbs dust mite allergens, sending them into the air and back down onto your sleeping area right before you hop in.
Instead, plan to dust during the day as this exposes dust mites to natural light. This effectively eliminates dust mites. Running a vacuum cleaner in the daytime doesn’t hurt either, once you’ve finished dusting.
Tip #8: Cover Your Mattress and Bedding With Dust-Proof Cases
Dusting your mattress isn't enough. It's also essential to cover the mattress and any bedding you use with a dust-proof case. This will help keep dust mites out of your bedroom without trapping them inside the mattress or making matters worse for yourself!
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has tested the Essentia mattress in regards to dust mite and latex allergies. The results have reported that the molded nature of the natural latex memory foam made by Essentia is essentially impervious to house dust mite inhabitation and growth.
With that, we would still recommend using a mattress protector to prolong the life of your mattress.
Tip #9: Replace Your Old Bedding With Hypoallergenic Options
Replace your old bedding with hypoallergenic options like Essentia’s natural organic latex mattresses. Beds filled with allergens can be a significant cause of discomfort and pain, so make sure to replace them with materials that support your health, rather than making allergies worse.
For best results, plan to replace your old bedding every six months. You'll sleep better knowing you're not breathing in high levels of dust mites or other particles that are detrimental to health.
In addition, take care of yourself by introducing new items into the bedroom—you should replace things like fresh sheets, pillowcases (or pillows if applicable) at least once per year as well!
Tip #10: Keep Pets Off of the Bed
Pets are adorable and great to have around, but animal dander can wreak havoc on your mattress. If you do end up replacing your mattress, the last thing you want is to lead your pets onto your new bed once more.
Don't be afraid to bathe pets regularly, too: this will help keep dust particles from collecting on their fur, which then spreads all over your sheets!
Tip #11: Remove Any Excess Objects From Your Bed
Remove any excess objects from your bed. This includes sheets, blankets, and creature comforts that have been in the same spot for too long!
Dust mites thrive on these items and they especially thrive when you don’t notice them. Reducing and rearranging sleeping items is especially important for guest beds that may not get frequent use.
Tip #12: Clean Your Rugs Frequently
Vacuum and wash your bedroom rug regularly. This will remove dust, dirt, allergens (such as pet hair), and debris often overlooked in bedding cleaning.
Be sure to clean the backside of rugs by flipping them over so you can vacuum any hidden mites or otherwise harmful particles on the other side.
Tip #13: Get a High-Efficiency Media Filter for Your Central Heat and Air Conditioning Unit
Dust mites can be a massive problem for people with allergies. They're invisible to the naked eye, but they love to make themselves at home in your central heat and air unit!
If you don't want the dust to pile up on everything from floorboards and furniture up into high-up corners of walls where it may not get cleaned as often, invest in an efficient media filter that will help keep those pesky pests out before their population explodes.
A high-efficiency media filter will help trap these tiny allergens, so you experience fewer symptoms as well as improving indoor air quality overall!
Tip #14: Purchase a Portable Air-Purifier
Maintaining cleanliness in your home will help to reduce the number of dust mites typically found on mattresses or carpeting. If you have pets such as dogs or cats, these animals may also transmit some allergens through their saliva and dander that could worsen dust mite allergy symptoms.
It is essential to keep all areas where people spend time, especially bedrooms, free from clutter. Hence, air circulates freely throughout the room, allowing maximum exposure without obstruction from items like furniture blocking airflow paths.
Tip #15: Steam Clean Surfaces and Materials That You Cannot Put Through the Washing Machine
Cleaning in the spring is essential to help with dust mites. Steam clean surfaces and materials that you cannot put through a washing machine, such as bedding or curtains.
The following tips will enable you to get your home ready for spring cleaning: Clean around all of your furniture and appliances by vacuuming carpets, baseboards, window ledges, bookshelves — everywhere!
Dust any soft furnishings with a dry cloth when possible; if not, then use an appropriate duster which you can wash between uses at 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). Wash walls using soapy water on a sponge or brush attachment from the ceiling down before wiping down the surface once again after rinsing off soap residue.
Tip #16: Wash Children’s Stuffed Animals and Pet’s Bedding Frequently
If it's made from fabric, it could attract dust mites!
Dry out your pillows by stuffing them with old sheets or hand towels for a few hours before putting them back on the bed.
Freshen up carpets and rugs in low-traffic areas such as hallways, staircases, and attics. Use vacuum cleaner attachments to suck up dust from under furniture, where it accumulates unnoticed until disturbed.
Wipe down door frames with damp cloths if visible dirt is present; then use a dry cloth to remove any excess water.
Tip #17: Keep the Temperature Under 70 and Humidity Levels Below 50 Percent
Controlling humidity is a constant battle, especially in older homes. Health information from the American Lung Association suggests that controlling humidity is crucial in fighting house dust mite populations.
Here are some tips for keeping the temperature and humidity in your room at optimal levels for minimizing dust mites.
First, filter air out of the room with an exhaust fan.
You can install the exhaust fan in the ceiling, and it should be on whenever you are using your air conditioner to cool or heat. This prevents allergens from circulating throughout the house.
Reduce humidity in a humid environment by opening windows on opposite sides of the building and using fans. In dry weather, close off rooms from each other to reduce heat loss.
Use curtains or blinds during summer as they can insulate against heat-absorbing sun rays.
What Can I Spray on My Mattress To Kill Dust Mites?
Some people may recommend using Lysol spray or DEET insect repellent to kill dust mites, but this is a bad idea.
These products include harmful chemicals that can further disrupt your sleep. In reality, they’re not effective against dust mites. Instead, take a natural approach by using a few drops of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.
This essential oil is a natural antibacterial and deodorizer. You can also add a couple of drops to your wash cycle with regular detergent to use on the bedding and sheets in your home.
Your bedroom is an intimate space and more than likely your most personal space. You spend a lot of time in it, so you want to make sure that the conditions are as clean and comfortable for you as possible. Dust mites love mattresses because they provide warmth, humidity, food (dead skin cells), and shelter from allergens like dust particles.
Without taking precautions against them, these little creatures can have genuine effects on your well-being, including asthma or eczema flare-ups. The key to reducing their numbers? Taking steps to reduce moisture levels while also minimizing places where they can grow, such as carpets and bedding with dustproof cases, will help keep these pesky critters away.
Since you spend a lot of time on your mattress, one of the smartest ways to mitigate a dust mite allergy is to look for mattresses with anti-microbial properties and allergen control. Opt for a hypoallergenic mattress from Essentia, leader in the world of natural organic latex mattresses that are perfectly impervious to allergens from the house dust mite and more.