6 Ways to Reduce Dust Mites in Your Home
Where there is dust in a home, there are almost always dust mites – unless, that is, you live in Antarctica! Invisible to the naked eye, these microscopic spider-like arachnids are out of sight and mind for many people. However, there are at least 13 species of dust mites, and all of them are well-adapted to the environment inside of your home. Dust mites mainly feed on the tiny flakes of dead skin that people and animals shed every day. While they don’t bite like bed bugs, fleas, or head lice, they can still have a tremendous impact on your health.
Dust mites, their body parts, and their feces are the most common household allergen. Dust mite allergens can aggravate allergies and asthma, leaving the sufferer with breathing difficulties, eczema, itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, a cough, chronic sinus problems, headaches, and other adverse symptoms. These problems can have a detrimental effect on sleep, causing dust mite allergy-sufferers to wake up several times during the night. Over the course of its lifetime, a single dust mite can produce up to 200 times its own body weight in waste, which, if left unaddressed, can accumulate extraordinarily quickly. Yikes! Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate dust mites from your home, there are several surefire methods you can use to drastically reduce their numbers and neutralize their threat.
Let’s take a look at six of the most effective ways to get rid of dust mites.
1. REDUCE CLUTTER
It’s important to note that dust mites will live (and thrive!) in even the cleanest of homes. That said, anything that gathers dust also invites dust mites. So, get to work reducing dust mites by channeling your inner-Marie Kondo and getting rid of anything in your home that doesn’t “spark joy.” By reducing clutter, you’ll give dust less of a chance to collect. Plus, your home will be so much easier to clean! It’s a win-win.
2. WASH YOUR BEDDING WEEKLY
Our beds are warm, moist, and an endless source of food for mites. This is why changing bedding frequently and washing it properly is so essential for dust mite control. All washable bedding – including your mattress cover, sheets, pillowcases, and blankets – should be washed at least weekly with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent. While your bedding is in the washer, spray your bed pillows and decorative throw pillows with an Anti-Allergen Solution to eliminate allergens. Let your pillows air dry while your bedding is in the washer.
To help reduce dust mite allergens for children, choose stuffed animals and toys that can be washed in the washer with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent, and limit the number of plush toys in the child’s bedroom. If the toys cannot be washed in the washing machine, gently vacuum them with a HEPA vacuum (using the upholstery attachment), spray with Vital Oxide to neutralize dust mite allergens and sanitize, and simply let air dry.
3. DEEP CLEAN YOUR MATTRESS
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), humans shed between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells every day (that’s about enough to fill a teaspoon), and many of these slough off while you’re rolling around in bed. All those dead skin cells pile up in bedding and work their way deep down into your mattress, making it the ideal home for dust mites to thrive. Not to worry, by simply deep cleaning your mattress at least twice per year, you’ll keep the dust mite population down. Dust mites’ legs contain tiny barbs that can hold on tightly to fibers, making them hard to remove by routine vacuuming, which is why it’s crucial to take your time and do a thorough job when cleaning your mattress.
No doubt, one of the best methods to deep clean your mattress and reduce mites is hot water extraction with a “rinse and vac” type device. It works well and benefits from reducing the allergen, as allergens from dust mites are water-soluble. Adding a miticide to the rinse and vac will help to keep dust mites from coming back. Dust mites thrive in places with high humidity, so be sure to allow plenty of time for thorough drying (a fan will help to speed up your drying time).
4. CLEAN CARPETS & RUGS REGULARLY
Generally, carpets and rugs should be vacuumed twice weekly or daily if you have a crawling baby or a pet that sheds. To actually capture dust (as well as pet dander and other airborne allergens), it’s essential to use a vacuum with a sealed high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters work by trapping tiny particles in the fine mesh, including dust, pollen, and even tobacco smoke.
Regular vacuums will only suck up big pieces of dust and may even send tiny microscopic particles flying right back out into the air, triggering allergy and asthma symptoms. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HEPA filters can capture more than 99% of particles at least 0.3 microns in size and prevent them from being released back into the air. If you suffer from dust mite allergies, wear a dust mask and open the windows to ventilate when you vacuum or, if possible, ask someone else to do it for you.
Deep cleaning should be done at least twice per year to keep carpets clean and healthy. Vital Oxide is safe for use on stain-protected carpet and fabric finishes and has The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval. After thoroughly vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum, use a carpet cleaner (or hot water extractor) along with Vital Oxide to sanitize, deodorize, and neutralize dust mite allergens, along with other common indoor allergens like pet dander in your carpet. When using a carpet cleaner or hot water extractor, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning for best results. Vital Oxide can be added directly to the tank of the hot water extractor to sanitize, either full strength or diluted 1 part Vital Oxide to 5 parts water. Allow to dwell for 10 minutes. Do not rinse; use an extraction wand and dry stroke carpet to remove excess moisture. Allow carpets to dry for at least eight hours (ideally overnight). Using fans to help speed up the drying process.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before using any product on your carpet, always test it on the fibers in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it does not cause discoloration. Spray the solution on the fibers. Let it sit for five minutes and then blot with a clean white cloth. If there is color transfer, do not use the product on your carpet.
5. LOWER THE TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY INSIDE YOUR HOME
Dust mites love warm, humid places, which means you may be battling the overall heat and humidity inside your home, depending on your local climate. The ideal temperature for dust mites is between 68°F and 77°F, with relative humidity around 70% to 80%. To make your home less hospitable to dust mites, set your thermostat to 70°F or less and monitor the moisture to keep it below 50%. Dehumidifiers, air conditioning, and fans can help to control the humidity inside your home effectively. Easy, right?
6. KEEP DUST MITES AT BAY WITH VITAL OXIDE
With the average person shedding enough dead skin every day to feed one million of these tiny pesky critters, maintaining a frequent cleaning schedule is vital (pun intended). Aim to clean and remove dust around your home at least twice weekly. Rather than using a feather duster or other dry dusting method that can cause the allergen to go airborne, use a lightly damped microfiber cloth to remove dust from shelves, windowsills, furniture, and other dust-prone areas around your home. For extra dust mite-busting power, use Vital Oxide. Simply spray it directly onto water-safe surfaces to remove dust and dust mite allergens, or spray it onto a microfiber cloth and wipe. Vital Oxide has the unique ability to reduce allergen levels in most common household triggers significantly, dust mite allergens included. It also neutralizes other common allergens like pet dander and molds.