Understanding dust mites is the first step to learning how to control dust mites in your home. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live in your mattresses, pillows, carpets, rugs and just about every place in your home where dust can be found.
Dust mites go through four stages of development – egg, larva, nymph and then adult. This entire life cycle usually takes three to four weeks. Females that have mated live for as long as 70 days, laying anywhere from 60 to 100 eggs in the last five weeks of their lives. Dust mites typically live for 10 weeks and produce about 2,000 fecal particles, as well as an even bigger number of partially digested, enzyme-covered dust particles.
The Problem With Dust Mites
Dust mites themselves are not harmful to us humans. They don’t bite and are not parasites. They live by eating our skin scales, pollen, fungi, bacteria and animal dander.
The problem with dust mites is caused by their fecal matter, body parts (when they die and fall apart) and the partially digested dust particles they leave behind. These are a problem because they all contain allergens that cause many people to have an allergic reaction or even suffer an asthma attack.
How To Control Dust Mites
The best way to reduce the allergic reations and asthma attacks caused by dust mites is to take steps to reduce your exposure to the allergens they produce and to reduce their numbers in your home. The first step in controlling dust mites is to encase your mattresses and pillows in zippered, dust proof (or allergen impervious) covers. This provides a barrier between you and the dust mites that may be hiding in your pillow or mattress. This is important because it will keep the dust mite allergens away rom you and will prevent your skin scales from reaching the dust mites – depriving them of one of their primary food sources. It also keeps your body moisture away from the dust mites, which is what they derive their water from. To keep your allergy covers clean, you should wipe off weekly with a damp cloth or vacuum them using a hard-edged attachment.
The second step to controlling dust mites is to wash your bedding weekly in very hot water, water that ia at least 130 degrees F. If the water in your home is not that hot, you will need to either take the bedding to a laundromat that does have water this hot. Another option is to wash your sheets, blankets and pillowcases in the hottest water available and then dry them for 30 minutes using your dryer’s hot cycle.
Control Dust Mites By Reducing The Humidity In Your Home
Dust mites love warm, humid places. Another step you can take to control dust mites is to make sure the relative humidity in your home is 50% or less. You can test your home’s humidity with a hygrometer. One of these should be available at your local hardware store. If you can’t find one in a nearby store, you can easily buy one online.
Control Dust Mites By Vacuuming Regularly
The next step to controlling dust mites is to make sure you vacuum often. Use a central vacuum or one that has a HEPA filter or a double-layer micro filter bag. Try to go over the same area of your carpeting or rugs at least three or four times to make sure you’re vacuuming up the maximum number of dust mites. If someone in your home is prone to asthma attacks related to dust mites, you should seriously think about tearing up any wall-to-wall carpeting in their bedroom. You can then replace it with a hard floor covering – linoleum, tile or wood, for example.
Another way to control dust mites is by dusting regularly. You should dust using a damp cloth, and vacuum any fabric-covered furniture to reduce dust build up. If you have a dust mite allergy or asthma, be sure to wear a mask when vacuuming or dusting. Anyone that suffers from a dust mite allergy or asthma should leave the room while you are dusting or vacuuming.
Controlling Dust Mite Allergens In A Child’s Bedroom
If your child has a dust mite allergy or asthma, make sure you buy washable stuffed animals and wash them weekly in hot water just as you do the bedding. Alternatively, you can put them in a plastic bag in the freezer for 48 hours, as this will also kill the dust mites. Even at that, you should keep stuffed animals out of the child’s bed and sleeping area. Dust the child’s bedroom twice a week and vacuum the carpet or damp mop the hard floor twice a week. It’s also a good idea to remove upholstered furniture from your child’s bedroom and replace it with vinyl, wood or leather furniture. If you cannot replace the upholstered furniture, be sure to vacuum it weekly.
You need to control dust mites in your home if you want to reduce the allergens they produce. Controlling dust mites involves a lot of work to reduce the dust mite population and making your home a less hospitable place for them. Your efforts will be well worth it when you see your family members that suffer from a dust mite allergy or asthma getting some relief.