Can dust mites be defeated…? What you may not want to know

The dust mite issue is beginning to raise flags all around the world as more people begin to realize the effect that they can have on our lives.  And marketers are beginning to take advantage of the associated rise in asthma and allergy symptoms tied to dust mite excrement as they try to sell us all sorts of dust mite treatment sprays and lotions.

The dust mite is a microscopic bug that feeds on the flakes of dry human skin that’s shed every day. It’s not the bug itself that causes the allergic reactions, but the excrement itself. They really thrive in warmer areas (close to 80°F) where the relative humidity is above 55%, but grow poorly when it’s below around 45%.

So one of the keys of dust mite control is to make sure that humidity and temperature are both lower then they prefer it. You can do this by keeping the heat down with air-conditioning…(this also dehumidifiers the air by the way), and keeping the temperature cooler especially in the bedroom whenever you can. They thrive in plush carpeting and overstuffed upholstery as well as your comfy bedding. I saw one statistic that says the average mattress will about double its weight in 10 years with dead dust mites and their feces.

I told you that you may not want to know.

Okay don’t panic. The truth is you’ll never really get rid of them completely, but there are ways of dwindling their numbers and reducing your various allergic reactions.

First question, how old is your mattress…?  If it’s a typical coil mattress, I’ve seen recommendations to replace it after two years if you have severe reactions to dust mites. Reading that statistic above I would be tempted to throw the bed out even if I didn’t have allergies.

This is a great reason to switch to a Tempur Pedic mattress — they are supposedly:

Resistant to bacteria, fungi and other living organisms
CFC and formaldehyde offgassing
Covers are treated to be resistant to the dust mites and other household allergens
You’ll avoid inhaling allergens as you sleep

It’s also important to really keep your bedroom clean and clutter free, hopefully without wall-to-wall carpeting.

Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter, and don’t miss anything get under the bed and in the corners. Dust mites live pretty much everywhere and can attach themselves to your clothing like your socks as you walk by, and can even live in your hair if you don’t wash it often enough.

Make sure to wash your bedding once per week in the hot water, because bleach and laundry detergent don’t kill them.This advice to wash in hot water goes against the typical instructions for keeping fine linen in good shape. I don’t know how many articles I’ve written with instructions on how to launder your linen properly, and I pretty much always say wash everything in lukewarm water.
So ultimately you may have to decide which is more important to you if you are concerned about getting rid of dust mites.You may have to just replace your bedding more often and he use that hot water.

You might have to get rid of that big fluffy comforter and switched to some plain cotton blankets. If you have feather and down pillows, you might consider switching to synthetic hypoallergenic fill.  Make sure to get higher thread counts of 260 or more for your pillow cases and pillow protectors — the tighter weave makes it harder for them to get out.

If you need to stick with the same old mattress, vacuuming it will help a little bit, and you can also purchase dust mite resistant mattress covers.

There are also many dust mite treatments in the form of sprays that are available online if you need to go that far.

For the typical home that’s kept clean and tidy, it shouldn’t be an overwhelming task to get the numbers of dust mites down and keep them that way. A bit of extra awareness and a little bit of added elbow grease should be all that it takes to help you sleep and breathe easier.