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Wondering if you might have a dust mite infestation, or just looking for a way to prevent them? In this post, we cover 14 easy tips on how to reduce and prevent dust mites within your home along with a little information about them.
What Are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are tiny, blind, microscopic mites that dwell pretty much anywhere that’s warm and humid.
This can include areas such as couches, carpeting, mattresses, curtains, inside dust bunnies, as well as lurking out in nature.
Dust mites also produce some of the most common types of allergens within the home, typically through their feces, and often wreak havoc on allergy sufferers—particularly those who have asthma.
Watch a Quick Video About Dust Mites
In a rush or want to know more? Check out this quick video, courtesy of PBS via Deep Look on Youtube.
WARNING: some may find it graphic or…well, just a bit gross. But, hey, #CleaningMotivation
How to Know If Dust Mites Are In Your Home
Dust mites infestations cause a vast majority of dust-related allergy symptoms due to an allergic reaction to their feces (err…well, their poop).
Because of this, having an allergy outbreak may sometimes be a good indicator of their presence; however, many of the symptoms can also be the result of other underlying causes.
Are Dust Mites Harmful?
While dust mites aren’t necessarily harmful, their feces can cause a lot of issues when it comes to certain common and more severe allergy symptoms such as those listed below.
Common Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms: sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy throat or nose, post-nasal drip, itchy skin, runny nose, and itchy, watery, or red eyes.
Severe Symptoms: asthma and chest pain or tightness, trouble sleeping, and wheezing.
When In Doubt, Ask a Doc
It’s always good to speak with a medical professional if you want to find out if you have a dust mite problem in your home or to rule out other causes for things such as allergies, asthma, etc.
In most cases, a medical professional will perform a series of tests to form a diagnosis, such as a skin-prick test or blood test.
While certain steps can be used at home to help reduce dust mites over time, medical treatments might be necessary.
Treatments may range from prescribing antihistamines and decongestants to allergy shots. or whatever types of prescriptions are determined by a medical professional.
Note: For more information on treatments and getting a diagnosis, please speak with a medical professional.
Dust Mites vs. Bed Bugs
While many people tend to believe otherwise, dust mites and bed bugs are two completely different critters. However, some at-home methods for preventing, reducing, or getting rid of them can often be similar.
What Are Dust Mites?
Contrary to popular belief, dust mites are not parasites nor insects and do not bite or burrow into a person or animal’s skin, unlike bed bugs.
Dust mites are actually microscopic arachnids, and they love to live in soft, warm, and humid environments and eat our fallen dead skin cells. Yum. Oh, and they can trigger typical allergy-type symptoms.
What Are Bedbugs?
Bedbugs are large, brown, flat insects that are much larger than dust mites and can easily be seen with the naked eye.
Similar to dust mites, bed bugs typically hideout within soft surfaces such as mattresses, pillows, blankets, and upholstered furniture.
Unlike dust mites, bed bugs bite to drink blood and cause the skin to itch and form large welts. They do not cause common allergy symptoms.
14 Tips for Getting Rid of Dust Mites
While you may not be able to eradicate dust mites in your home completely, you can at least work towards reducing them or preventing them from thriving with these 14 easy steps.
1. Don’t neglect the surrounding environment.
Because dust mites can lurk anywhere, make sure that you regularly dust and vacuum your home to help prevent or reduce them—especially if you have carpeting, pets, and soft fabrics around your home that they can easily penetrate and dwell in.
It’s What’s For Dinner
You can also eliminate or get rid of dust mites by eliminating their main food source: your skin.
And, like it or not, you shed a lot of it every day.
In fact, Science Daily, via Imperial London College, reports that humans lose a whopping 200,000,000 skin cells every hour.
How to Tackle a Dust Mite Infestation
It’s usually recommended to vacuum at least once a week and dust a minimum of once a month; however, dusting several times a month is usually recommended.
If there are a lot of animals or humans in your household, you may need to dust and vacuum more often. And if you happen to be living it up solo—congrats! You may be able to get away with fewer cleaning sessions.
Know What To Aim For
Keep in mind that it’s not so much the mite that can cause humans allergy trouble but rather their feces and carcasses, which there can often be a lot lying around.
You can potentially reduce dust mite numbers by vacuuming them up and dusting them up regularly, along with what they might collectively leave behind in terms of feces and other bits.
2. Air things out a bit.
Even though there are numerous things you can do to reduce or prevent dust mites in your bed, it’s good practice to air your bed out each morning before making it, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
This is more so if you live in a humid area, sweat a lot while you sleep, sleep hot, or have deep concerns about dust mites in general.
Yes, You Can Make Your Bed
You don’t necessarily need to avoid making your bed completely as long as you keep up maintaining it and work on preventing mites throughout your entire home and not just your bed.
Plus, if you feel mites might be lying in wait in your bed, then there’s a good chance that they’re in other places, such as your carpet, fabric headboard, pillows, or even your favorite spot on the couch, too.
Try airing the bed out in the morning if you live in a high-humidity area, even if it’s just as you go about your morning routine. It may also be beneficial to consider a dehumidifier if your location gets overly humid.
You can also opt to use a dust-mite-proof bed cover, too.
3. Dust and vacuum more thoroughly and consistently.
Dust mites like warmth, humidity, and—as you might have guessed—dust. In fact, a lot of dust tends to be made up of dead skin cells, various types of debris, and dust mite matter.
Luckily, there are various way dusting and vacuuming might help reduce their all-you-can-eat-buffet experience.
Wash the Washable
Washing porous items often can be ideal for getting rid of dust mites—especially if you can get away with using a higher temperature.
Dust On, Dust Off
When dealing with allergies and dust mites, make sure that whatever you use to dust with actually works well to trap dust and particles efficiently, rather than merely scattering them around.
The same goes for ensuring that your vacuum cleaner and cleaning tools work efficiently in order to trap mites and their feces.
Top Duster Pick: Swiffer 360.
Give Filtration A Try
If possible, look for vacuums and air purifiers with adequate filtration, such as a HEPA filter.
Good-quality filters will help prevent capture dust from reentering the environment after you’ve cleaned it.
It may even help reduce any allergy symptoms that you might already have to worry about.
Consider Carpet Cleaning
Carpet cleaning a few times a year is another way to combat dust mites, eliminate their feces, and whatever else they leave behind.
Fortunately, most carpet cleaners are pretty affordable these days or can be rented, and many are equipped to handle couches and other soft furniture as well.
It’s also an option to hire a service if doing it yourself isn’t your kind of thing.
Psst… Looking for the ultimate time-saving vacuum for cleaning and vacuuming hard floors at the same time? Check out our super in-depth, hands-on Tineco S5 Wet-Dry Vacuum Review next (new tab).
4. Reduce mite-friendly habitats.
If you’re prone to severe allergic reactions because of mites and want to take extra measures to prevent dust mites, consider working towards reducing mite-friendly environments.
Sorry, We’re Closed
Reduce fabric-type materials in your home as much as possible, such as by switching from carpet to hard floors or curtains to blinds or shutters.
Children’s stuffed toys, as well as plushy pet toys, may also attract dust mites. Because of this, it may be beneficial to wash—or to at least dry—toys ever so often to control dust mites.
5. Consider getting an air purifier.
Air purifiers specifically work to reduce airborne contaminants from the air within a specific environment.
This makes air purifiers great for reducing dust as well as dust mites in particular since they can help reduce dust particles–not to mention your skin cells–from the environment.
You may even see a reduction in other allergy problems as well.
What to Consider When Buying a Purifier
- The size of the space or room you need to cover.
- Does it meet the square footage needing to be covered, and, if so, in what mode (e.g., low, medium, max)?
- What the unit’s filter will help trap? (i.e. dust, pet dander, odors, VOCs, mold, etc.)
- What type of modes does the purifier come with?
- How many decibels does it put out?
- Does it have a Sleep Mode?
- How much do the purifier filters cost and how should they be replaced?
Notes: Freestanding air purifiers generally only work in the specific rooms that they’re in for the amount of square footage that they’re rated, usually while on their highest-running setting.
6. Don’t neglect your household filters.
Certain house filters in your home can help reduce dust and allergens and may even help reduce and prevent dust mites.
Despite this, they’re commonly neglected or forgotten about by many households.
Change Filters Regularly
Make sure to regularly clean or dust your vents to clear them of dust and debris.
It’s also essential to change or clean your air purifying filters and your AC filter regularly.
While the frequency of when to change out your air purifying filters can vary, a/c filters commonly need to be changed or cleaned at least every 2 to 3 months at the most when in regular use.
Tip: If you have a hard time remembering to change your filters, consider setting a reminder on your phone or home hub devices if you happen to have any.
7. Try high heat when possible to do so.
If you feel that you may have a dust mite infestation or want to be on the safe side, it may help to use heat.
Generally, the recommended amount of heat is usually 130F for at least 20 minutes.
This might involve using steam, running items through the washer on a high enough heat, or tossing stuff in the dryer for at least 20 minutes and with a reasonable amount of heat.
Know Thy Enemy
Keep in mind that dust mites also thrive with temperatures between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
The AAFA recommends trying to keep humidity levels below 50 percent when possible. They also suggest that asthma sufferers avoid devices that omit ozone, excessive heat, and electric ions (likely the positive variety).
8. Wash and change your bedding often.
One of the easiest ways to eliminate or prevent dust mites in your home is to change or wash your bedding often.
Wash Your Bedding Regularly
The longest time to go without changing or cleaning your sheets should be no more than two weeks. However, it’s usually recommended to do so weekly—at least where sheets are concerne–or as part of your weekly and bi-weekly cleaning chores.
Things such as comforters or duvet inserts, or even runners, can sometimes go a little longer. But it’s still good to try to do so as often as you can.
Be Mean And Try Steam
You can also try steaming and/or vacuuming certain bedding types that you may not want to wash as often, such as a comforter or duvet.
Catch Some Rays
UV sanitizing devices are available that are specifically designed for mattresses and some work well at combating dust mites.
Just make sure that it has a vacuum feature on it in order to suck up any debris or feces since this is the main source of allergens where dust mites are concerned.
Cheaters Sometimes Prosper
Some people find it useful to freshen up larger or more delicate items, such as pillows and duvet inserts or blankets, in the dryer, using a steam sanitizing cycle when available as a feature.
This can work against contaminates, odors, and potentially dust mites. Using a slightly damp cloth in a regular dryer might work, too, but we can’t guarantee it.
Tip: The ideal temperature for killing dust mites is said to be 130 degrees for at least 20 minutes.
9. Avoid excess moisture and humidity.
One of the things that dust mites enjoy is moisture/humidity.
While it’s not always possible to eliminate moisture from our bodies or the occasional bad weather, using a dehumidifier may be one way to help make an environment less hospitable for dust mites.
10. Exfoliate to help prevent dust mites.
Skin is the #1 thing that dust mites feed on, and we happen to shed a ton of it.
While you can’t stop yourself or others from shedding dead skin cells, you may be able to reduce how much dead skin (a.k.a. dust mite food) winds up on your bed, furniture, and other parts of the house by making sure to exfoliate at least once a week.
Exfoliating will help reduce skin shedding and flakiness, and it can be beneficial for your health and skin quality. And it can be particularly useful if you have skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, KP, or ichthyosis vulgaris.
Exfoliate And Hydrate
Using a washcloth is, of course, one way to go about exfoliating to reduce mites in your home.
However, if you find that’s not enough, you may have better luck with a body scrub or exfoliating mitt for something gentle.
Go Spa or Go Home
Above all, don’t forget to lotion up once you’re done getting all baby-smooth to moisturize your skin and keep it from drying out, potentially creating an unintentional dust mite smorgasbord.
11. Don’t forget about your fur babies and feathered friends.
Dogs, cats, birds, and other beasties shed, too, adding to the potential 24-7 dust mite smorgasbord.
Pet dander can also contribute to allergies as well, even aside from mite-related ones.
Ways to Combat Pet Dander
Tip #1: You can try spraying little water on your pet while brushing them, then wipe them dry with a microfiber cloth or towel, which is always helpful for in-between baths and to reduce dander. It’s also great for reducing fly-away fur while brushing.
Tip #2: There are pet sprays and treatments available for those who suffer from pet allergies in particular, or even for pets who have excessive dander issues. Ask a veterinarian or a medical professional for suggestions.
Psst… Curious to know more pet-related cleaning tips? Check out our post on 11 Easy Tips On How To Control Pet Fur At Home and 14 Ultimate Pet-Related Spring Cleaning Chores & Helpful Tips next (new tabs).
12. Consider a mattress protector.
Mattress protectors can be a great way to help prevent and reduce dust mites. And they’re great for those who worry that making their bed will cause dust mites might increase.
Get Bug or Allergy-Specific Types
In fact, it’s even possible to get whole-mattress protectors that are designed to work against bed bugs. These can be ideal for those who want maximum protection.
Hypoallergenic bedding and pillows are also something to consider, as are protective pillow covers that are designed to go on underneath pillowcases.
13. Let there be steam!
As mentioned previously, high amounts of heat (approximately 130F degrees) can kill dust mites, which is where steam cleaning can come in handy.
We love to use steam on items or in specific areas that may not always be easy to clean through other methods, and as a way to freshen the place up a bit.
This might include anything from stuffed animals and furniture to curtains, mattresses, headboards, and so forth.
14. Spot treatments.
Sometimes, reducing and preventing dust mites may come down to the need for spot treatments based on where you feel the infestation may be occurring the most.
Spot treatments can range from home remedies to store-bought products. Some people may also prefer to use a professional service to tackle severe issues.
Knowing how to get rid of dust mites or prevent dust mites in the first place basically boils down to making your environment less hospitable for them by starving them and eliminating their feces as best as you can.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites
- Don’t neglect the surrounding environment.
- Air things out a bit.
- Dust and vacuum more thoroughly and consistently.
- Reduce mite-friendly habitats.
- Consider getting an air purifier.
- Don’t neglect your household filters.
- Try high heat when possible to do so.
- Wash and change your bedding often.
- Avoid excess moisture and humidity.
- Exfoliate to help prevent dust mites.
- Don’t forget about your fur babies and feathered friends.
- Consider a mattress protector.
- Let there be steam!
- Spot treatments.
Do you suffer from dust mite allergies or had bed bugs or dust mite infestations in the past? Let us know in the comments down below!
- Dust Mite Allergy, AAFA, October 2015.
- Meet the Dust Mites, Tiny Roommates That Feast On Your Skin; Deep Look, Youtube; April 5th, 2016
- New insights into skin cells could explain why our skin doesn’t leak; Science Daily, Imperial College London, November 29, 2016