Have you been experiencing allergies all through the year?
If your answer is yes, then there are several reasons for that, one of which could be the presence of pesky dust-mite in your environment.
These pests are too small to see with the naked eye, and their microscopic nature makes it easy for them to crawl through the tiniest openings you can think of.
Since you’re reading this, I can assume you are faced with a dust mite infestation, and you’re in search of practical solutions to the problem. The good news is, you’re reading the right article.
Here we’ll be discussing how to get rid of dust mites and ensure that they never come back to your home.
All you have to do is read to the very end!
What You Need To Know About Dust Mites
The first step to knowing how to get rid of dust mites is understanding what they are and their characteristics. This will give you an upper hand against them when they invade.
As I have mentioned earlier, dust mites are microscopic insects, and their tiny nature makes it hard for you to identify them with naked eyes. An adult dust mite grows to a maximum of ¼ to 1/3 millimeters in length. As such, you can only catch a glimpse of them when placed under a microscope.
Under the vision-enhancing tool, they look like spiders, although white.
Male dust mites have about 30 days (one month), while the females tend to live longer, up to 90 days (3 months).
Dust mites feed on dead skin cells of humans, which is why they are so common indoors, as that is where people spend most of their nights. It would interest you to know that humans shed an average of 1.5 grams of dead skin cells per day, which can feed about a million dust mites at a time.
That being said, dust mites prefer to reside in spaces where they can find the most skin cells.
And these include upholstery furniture, beddings, rugs, and carpets. You can also find them living in stuffed animals and any other fiber-made item. As long as dead skin cells are there, these pests will come invading.
Dust mites can be found in pretty much any country you can think of, but they are more prevalent in humid climates. And their ability to easily burrow through cloth fibers means you can unknowingly take them with you when you make trips.
Dust mites can cause allergic reactions in humans, as their whole being is allergenic. Their leftover skin and fecal matter can also cause allergies when they touch the human skin.
What Attracts Dust Mites?
Another important factor in knowing how to get rid of dust mites is understanding what attracts them.
Sadly, most homes and apartments are infested with dust mites, as humans and pets have lived together for a long time.
And as we have mentioned earlier, dust mites like to feed on dead skin cells, which is why they invade your home, especially your resting areas like the bedroom and living room.
Besides their food, dust mites need conducive environments to thrive, and dusty and humid areas are their ideal choice. To add to that, dust mites like environments that are moist and dark. They do not like heat, which is why they stay away from sunny areas.
So if your home is always dusty, thanks to poor cleaning habits, then you are practically inviting dust mites in. And since your home has plenty of shade away from the sun, as well as an abundance of dead skin cells as food, they have every reason to invade.
Don’t forget that fiber surfaces trap dead skin cells, so dust mites will naturally be drawn to those areas.
To round it up, here are the things that attract dust mites to your home:
1. Dead skin cells
This serves as their food, so if they can find it on your fiber materials like your mattress, rugs, and carpets, then they will come.
It isn’t quite clear why dust mites love to hang around dusty areas. All we know is they do (which is the main reason they are called dust mites). However, if the furniture or woodwork in your home is always dusty, then that’ll be a perfect environment for dust mites to expand their colonies.
Humid environments are perfect for dust mites, as all living creatures need water to survive. If you didn’t know, humidity is the concentration of water vapor in the air, which can later form as dew. If the humidity levels in your home are high, then dust mites will be more attracted to it.
Now that you know what attracts dust mites to your home, the next task would be to confirm their presence in your home. Knowing the exact pest, you are treating will allow you to take the right steps towards disinfestation.
But how can you tell if you have dust mites since they are so small?
The next section will show you.
How Do You Know You Have Dust Mites?
I doubt there’s any human in the world with microscopic vision, which is why it is impossible to identify dust mites with the naked eye.
However, there are signs that these pests leave behind, which will let you know they are in your home.
Most of these signs are health-related dust mite allergies, as the insect is known to cause several types of allergic reactions.
Dust mite allergy symptoms include:
- Excessive sneezing
- A runny nose, even when the weather isn’t cold
- Stuffy nose (although this can also be caused by too much dust, it may still be an indication of dust mite presence)
- Itching In the mouth, nose, and throat
- Itchy skin
- Post-nasal drips
These symptoms and allergic reactions can happen to anyone living with dust mites, even those with low histamine levels. Sadly, the allergic reactions are worse for people with high histamine levels, which is why the symptoms are more evident in such individuals.
It gets worse for people with asthma, as they can experience more severe reactions due to dust mite allergy.
Dust mite allergies include the following –
- Breathing problems
- Severe pain in the chest area (chest tightness)
- An audible whistling sound when breathing
- Difficulty falling asleep due to wheezing, shortness of breath, and constant coughing
If you are experiencing one or more of these dust mite allergies and can’t figure out the cause, I advise you to visit your doctor for professional advice.
Allergy symptoms can be treated, so don’t panic. You can also hire a pest control service to come and inspect your home for dust mites.
After they have confirmed dust mite presence, you can begin making plans to exterminate them. You can either do this yourself or hire a professional pest control company to do it for you.
Do Dust Mites Bite Humans?
The good news is, dust mites don’t bite humans, even though they live inside the fiber of your mattresses, pillows, rugs, and carpets.
This is unlike bed bugs, who also live in these areas but need human blood to survive, hence the bites.
A dust mite feeds on dead skin cells that have been shed by humans, so they have no reason to bite.
A dust mite infestation can indeed cause itchy skin, but that isn’t a result of a bite. It’s simply your skin reacting to the contact it has made with the shredded dust, mite skin, and fecal matter.
Another thing you need to know is that dust mites do not live on humans, as there is nothing they stand to gain by doing so. Instead, they can cling to clothing made of fiber which likely contains dead skin cells.
Still, they won’t bite.
How To Get Rid Of Dust Mites In Your Home
Now that you know the necessary details about dust mites, you can begin with the process of dust mite control. I have to mention that it is almost impossible to completely remove dust mites from your home, as there will always be dead skin cells around.
That being said, all you can do is keep their population in check by drastically reducing their number.
Follow the steps below to get rid of dust mites.
1. Keep your beddings clean at all times
If you are looking to get rid of dust mites, then one of the most effective ways to do this is to hit them hard where they live. By this, I mean keeping your beddings washed and cleaned regularly.
Make it a habit to wash your bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and covers regularly. By doing so, you will not only get rid of dust mites and the dead skin cells on them, but you’ll also have fresher beddings that can help you have a sound sleep at night.
I have already mentioned how dust mites hate high temperatures, so you can use this knowledge against them while washing. That being said, don’t wash your beddings in cool water, as that will not be effective enough to kill dust mites.
For best results, I advise you to wash your beddings in hot water, which the dust mites hate.
The ideal water temperature to kill dust mites would be 130°F. Soak all your beddings in a large plastic bucket and leave them there for about 30 minutes. All the dust mites on your beddings will be dead after this time, and you can proceed to dry them up afterward.
Set your dryer to the hot setting at 130°F, and do a 15-minute cycle for best results. An extra tip here is to wash your beddings with a special allergen-reducing laundry detergent. This type of detergent is made with elements that can remove dust mite allergens.
If you’re not drying your beddings with a machine, then you can use the natural sunlight. Spread your beddings on the laundry lines in your yard and leave them under the scorching sun until they are completely dried.
The accompanying outdoor wind will also help your beddings dry faster and eliminate all internal moisture. But be sure to check the weather forecast in your area before you spread your beddings outside.
You need bright sunny days to do the trick, so scrap this option if the weather forecast predicts rain.
For items that can’t be placed in a washing machine or bucket (like your mattress, for instance), you can use a steam wash to get rid of dust mites.
You can do the steam wash yourself, as long as you have the machine. Just take your mattress outside and give it a good, hot blast. You can as well explore the second option, which is taking it to a professional cleaning service.
Do the same for your stuffed animals, rugs, and carpets to kill dust mites.
Besides extreme heat, you can also use extreme cold to get rid of dust mites from your non-washable items. All you have to do is freeze them for at least 24 hours, and the dust mites will be dead afterward.
Small non-washable items can fit into your freezer, but keep in mind that freezing will only kill the living dust mites, but won’t remove their leftover allergens as a wash can do.=
Ensure that you have several sets of beddings so that while one set is being washed, you can have another set to cover up your mattress.
2. Use bed covers that are allergen-proof
A good way to create a barricade between your mattress and dust mites is to use allergen-proof bed covers. These covers usually come with zippers, so ensure that you zip them all the way around for best results.
Blocking off the dust mites from your mattress will reduce their food supply, as they can no longer access the mattress where the dead skin cells are scattered.
A dust mite will die after some time if it doesn’t get enough nourishment. And while they are tiny enough to sneak through the zipper, it would be only very few that would be able to pass.
As extra insurance, you can place duct tape over the seams to increase your chances of keeping them out.
Note that this measure is aimed at keeping them out, not killing them. However, dust mites will die if they don’t eat. They can also migrate to a more promising environment in search of food. The good news is, that environment will be away from your mattress.
3. Clean your carpets, sofas, and curtains that cannot be machine washed
Besides your beddings, a dust mite can also cling on to your carpets and rugs, your curtains too. So to effectively get rid of dust mites in your home, you also have to remove them from these extra pieces of furniture as well.
Your carpets, rugs, sofas, and curtains can not only hold dust but can hold dead skin cells and dust mite feces as well.
Since these pieces of furniture cannot be machine washed, you can take them to a professional cleaning service to give them a hot steam wash. The hot water from the wash will not only remove the termites and their fecal matter, but it will also kill them.
Of course, this will cost you some money, but you’ll be satisfied with the results in the end.
Another way to get rid of these pests is to vacuum these items thoroughly, especially your carpets, rugs, and sofas. This might not be the most effective means of dust-mite removal since vacuum cleaning works best to remove surface materials, but it can help remove any dust mite.
As for the dust mites that have burrowed deep into the carpets and sofas, vacuum cleaning may not get them all.
If you take the vacuum route, ensure that you get all the corners of your carpet. You can raise your sofa to vacuum underneath it.
As for the sofa itself, you can use a mini vacuum to go over it. Raise the pillows and suck them up a few times. You should also vacuum the tight corners of the sofa, as there will be many dust mites hiding there.
As for soft toys and pet beddings, a steam wash will be good enough to kill dust mites. Remember that temperatures as high as 130°F will be too high for a dust mite to resist, so that is the temperature you should be gunning for.
4. Keep your countertops and other hard surfaces dust-free
We have already spoken of how dust mites love to dust, making your dusty surfaces a perfect place for them to reside.
That being said, you should ensure that all your hard surfaces are free of dust if you want to get rid of them. These include your countertops, kitchen sinks, shelves, cupboards, and the likes.
This is one of the easiest steps you can take to eliminate dust mites, as it involves only a rag and a cleaning solution. The good thing about keeping your countertops free of dust is that it will remove any existing dust mites on them and remove their food in the process.
Use a damp rag to clean, as the wetness will allow the microscopic mites to stick to the cloth. It will also make it possible to scoop up their fecal matter and any dead skin cells found on the surface.
Make sure you have a bowl of hot water beside you as you clean so that you can dip the rag inside after each swipe. By doing so, you won’t be at risk of bringing the scooped-up mites back to the surface on the following wipes.
Of course, I don’t expect you to dip your bare hands in hot water, which is why you should put on a pair of thick rubber gloves before you begin. Make sure the gloves are up to elbow length, so you’ll be well protected.
After the first wipe, slowly dip the rag into the bowl of hot water so there will be no splashes, then squeeze as hard as you can into another bowl so that the dust mites you have picked up will get flushed away with the water.
For extra protection, put on a facemask before you begin cleaning, especially if you are prone to the allergic reactions that dust mites are known to cause. To add to that, make sure you clean your surfaces with only a damp rag, do not use dry rags for cleaning.
This is simple: dry rags can stir up the allergens as you clean, which will put you at risk of reactions.
After you are done with the hard surfaces, remove the dust from other items such as books, magazines, and the likes. You can also throw them away if they serve no purpose and are just consuming space.
After several rounds of wiping and squeezing, you can take the bowl of dirty water outside and dispose of it properly. Wash the bowls thoroughly before bringing them back inside.
5. Eliminate indoor humidity
Since you already know that dust mites are comfortable in humid environments, you can reverse the situation and make your living space unconducive for them.
All you have to do is eliminate indoor humidity, and you can use a dehumidifier to do that. Luckily, dehumidifiers are sold in pretty much any home improvement store around you.
Dehumidifiers are great for removing airborne moisture. The best part is that you can set the dehumidifier to your preferred levels.
Speaking of levels, it is advised that you keep humidity levels at or under 50%, as that would make your home too dry for a dust mite.
Another means by which you can reduce the humidity levels in your home is to keep your windows and doors open on dry, sunny days. A good inflow of air will eliminate airborne moisture and keep your home smelling fresh.
Furthermore, reducing humidity can also keep your home free of mold, which is another allergy-causing organism. Consider that a bonus.
6. Use high-efficiency media filters
By installing certified allergen-capturing filters in your air conditioning system, furnace, and vacuum, you can capture as many dust mites and fecal matter around the area.
Just like dehumidifiers, you can also buy these filters from home improvement stores in your area. And while this is a good way to remove dust mites from your home, it works best if you follow the other tips provided above.
The Products You Will Need To Eliminate Dust Mites
Getting rid of dust mites will require some items, most of which you probably already have at home. As for the ones you don’t have, you can always go to a store near you to get them.
Here’s what you’ll need.
1. An allergen laundry detergent
These are specially made detergents that include anti-allergens. They can be used to wash beddings such as sheets, duvets, and pillowcases.
When used in a hot water wash, they will kill dust mites and remove the allergens they produce. Read the instructions on the packaging before you use it so that you apply it properly.
2. Mattress covers
There are allergy-friendly mattress covers you can use to cover up your bed and keep mites away. This cuts them off from the dead skin cells that serve as their food, which will prompt them to source food elsewhere.
Buy a mattress cover with a zipper for best results, as this will reduce the entry points for the mites. You can also use duct tape over the seams to further seal any passageways.
3. Allergen beddings
Besides mattress covers, there are also allergen beddings that can be laid over your mattress or used to cover your pillows. This will also create a barricade against the mites and help reduce the allergic effects on the human skin, as it protects your pillows and mattress from dead skin cell droppings.
This can be used to measure the humidity levels in your home and determine if it is too high or low. The ability to determine indoor humidity levels will let you know if your home is conducive to dust mites or not.
A dehumidifier can be used to control indoor humidity. The ideal range is 50% or below, as this will be unconducive for the mites.
What this machine does is dry up airborne moisture to the level you want it. And besides making your home unconducive for mites, it also makes it unsuitable for the growth of other problematic organisms like mold.
6. Allergen spray
These sprays can be used to clean your rugs and carpets, as well as other forms of upholstery. You can also use an allergen spray to clean your curtains and beddings.
They are made with special oxidizing compounds that destroy dust mites.
Upholstery, rugs, and other soft furnishings that have been infested with dust mites can be cleaned with a steamer. You’d be glad to hear that there are portable hand-held steamers that will allow you to maneuver better around your couch.
How Do You Get Rid Of Dust Mites Naturally?
There are different natural solutions to dust mite infestation, and we will look at them below.
1. Essential oils
Eucalyptus oil has proven to be very useful in dust mite control, and there are different ways by which you can use it.
To deter dust mites with Eucalyptus oil, you can add some drops into your washing machine when washing your beddings and small pieces of upholstered furniture. You can also dilute the oil with water in a spray bottle and apply it over the areas you suspect have been affected.
Since dust mites can be anywhere, be advised to spray the solution across the other surfaces in your home. These include your cupboards, countertops, kitchen sink, remote control, old books, and the likes.
Most insect pests cannot stand the effects of Eucalyptus oil, so it’s a good way to deter dust mites. Tea tree oil also has the same effect on dust mites, making it a good natural remedy.
2. Use plants with large leaves
You may be wondering how this would work, but the idea is really simple. Broad-leafed plants can help gather some dust that would’ve made its way into your home. And while this is not the most effective means of natural dust mite control, it can help reduce their population.
Plants such as Chamaedorea (bamboo palms), Boston Ferns, Peace Lily, and Spider Plants have proven to be a good natural remedy to dust allergies.
What Can I Spray On My Mattress To Kill Dust Mites?
Natural remedies for dust mites can come in the form of essential oil sprays. And you can make the solution yourself.
Simply mix 2 cups of distilled water and two tablespoons of eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil into a spray bottle and stir well. It is advised you use a dark spray bottle, just so the content isn’t compromised by sunlight.
Spray generously across your bed and upholstered furniture to kill dust mites. You can also spray the solution over your stuffed animals, pillows, and carpets.
Unlike bed bugs, dust mites do not bite humans, but they are still problematic, as they can cause many types of allergic reactions. They are microscopic, so they can’t be seen with the naked eye, but you can tell they are around by the reactions they cause on your skin, mouth, nose, and throat.
Thankfully, getting rid of them is as easy as keeping your environment and furniture clean at all times. You can also try some of the natural remedies suggested in this article as insurance.
Hopefully, this piece on how to get rid of dust mites has given you the vital information you can use to get rid of dust mites.