Dust mites can be a plague in the home. They cause multiple health problems for families, including irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, and dust mites can also exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Dust mites are microscopic insects that thrive in warm, humid environments. To proliferate, they seek homes in our bedding, including our mattresses, pillows, and duvet covers, as well as our sheets. Since dust mites can cause a variety of health issues for adults and children, families should take every measure possible for killing dust mites in the home. Controlling and removing dust mites in our pillows, bedding, and mattresses are key to alleviating allergic symptoms associated with dust mite allergies and can greatly improve sleep.
There are a variety of methods for killing dust mites for allergy relief in the home.
While we recommend our high-performance bedding encasements for pillows, duvet covers, and mattresses, there are in fact a variety of methods for killing dust mites in the home that make this strategy even more effective. Let’s take a look at some of these methods for killing and controlling dust mites in the home, courtesy of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Washing Your Bedding
One the best methods of killing dust mites in the home starts with how you maintain clean bedding. For killing dust mites in most pillows, bedding, or mattresses, the work starts with at least weekly washing of your sheets and pillowcases at hot temperatures*. You should not only wash bedding but also any uncovered pillows and stuffed toys—dust mites love these, too—at temperatures exceeding 130 degrees.
Dust mites congregate on the carpet and upholstered furniture as well. To kill dust mites where they gather, you should vacuum your floors and furniture one to two times, or more weekly. Vacuuming regularly, especially if you have multiple people and pets in your space, is key to killing dust mites in the home. To get the job done right, look for vacuum cleaners that are certified asthma and allergy friendly.
Pet Dander Prevention
Dust mites love pet dander, too. For easier killing of dust mites in your bedding, your mattress, and your pillows, you have to actively manage the amount of pet dander in your home. Fortunately, there are several measures you can take. First, bathe and groom your pets regularly. Also, keep them off of your bed, and even make them stay out of your bedroom. The farther your pets are from your bedroom, the better. Finally, you should also be sure to wash pet beds and stuffed toys on a regular basis.
Mold Spore Prevention
Dust mites feed on mold spores, in addition to dead human skin and pet dander. Thus, for killing dust mites in the home, it’s important to manage mold. Mold thrives in humidity, so there are several measures to take to limit mold. You must be vigilant especially in areas like the kitchen and bathrooms, where there is typically running water.
First, don’t run your showers for a long time before you get in. Also, use dehumidifiers—these will definitely reduce mold and dust mites. The fewer houseplants you have, the better. Always fix leaks and wipe any waters pills or leaks immediately from surfaces. Also, be sure to run your air conditioning on recirculate in the summer—this will reduce humidity versus opening your windows and bringing in humid air with no way to recirculate it. Finally, if you see mold, clean it immediately and check back weekly to ensure it doesn’t come back.
Air Cleaning Devices
Air cleaning devices, such as air purification systems, can be a great way of killing dust mites in the home. There are two keys to selecting a good air cleaning device. First, you must consider the size of your room. Small devices may only effectively purify the air of potential allergens in rooms of 100-150 square feet, while medium-sized devices may only have the power to clean 200-400 square feet. You’ll have to buy a quite large device to purify the air of a home with an open floor plan.
Second, as with selecting vacuums, look for certified asthma and allergy friendly devices when looking for an air purifier for killing dust mites in the home.
While many people are constrained by budgets to make the best of what they have, others may justify the extra spend or happen to be building a new home. In these latter cases, families can take even more preventive measures with regard to home furnishings and finishes and killing dust mites in the home. Take a look at some of the other considerations, like the following:
- Avoid heavy drapes and blinds, instead, use roll-down shades and washable curtains
- Avoid overstuffed furniture in favor of bare furniture or smaller, washable/vacuum-able cushions
- Avoid wall-to-wall carpet, instead choosing low-pile carpet or non-carpet flooring, such as hardwood, tile, or laminate
What about Pesticides?
Perhaps we’ve been avoiding a more obvious answer to the question of killing dust mites in the home, the use of pesticides. According to PestKill.org, while it’s impossible to eliminate dust mites, it is possible to take all of the above measures and still feel that you need to use an actual killing agent.
While killing dust mites in your bedding, pillows, and mattress may be more of a case of washing regularly in hot water and using high performance natural and synthetic fabric encasements, killing dust mites in your home, in general, may be more successful with a pesticide of some kind.
Depending on the level of your infestation, you may resort to using a spray, fogger, fumigator, or powder to kill dust mites in your home. There are both natural and chemical options available. Some of the natural options use essential oils to kill dust mites, and these products are much healthier for your family. Some of the chemical options use broad-spectrum insecticides like permethrin or targeted active ingredients like silicon dioxide. The chemical options are usually more toxic and pose health threats of their own.
Most people don’t resort to pesticides, but rather take a host of preventive measures like washing their bedding, vacuuming regularly, and otherwise keeping their homes and surfaces less humid and mold-free. Emerging research from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that using engineered fabric encasements is the best method for killing dust mites in pillows, bedding, and mattresses.
For further reading, visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website at aafa.org.
*If you are using high-quality Sleep Clear™ encasements, weekly washing is not necessary. See our FAQ page for more information.