The itch you can’t scratch
One of the most common triggers of asthma and allergies is not from the outdoors, they are from dust mites and linger in your own home. These tiny microscopic creatures resemble bugs and are relatives of the spider; however, they do not leave bites on your skin.
Do not confuse dust mites with bed bugs, as bed bugs are a different type and do actually leave bites on the skin. Dust Mites live on mattresses, upholstered furniture, and stuffed animals, in bedding, on curtains, and all over your carpeting. They feed on the shedding of skin from humans and pets and they thrive in warm and humid environments.
An allergy to dust mites does not only happen in the warm months, it is a year round problem. Dust mites can cause an allergic reaction such as skin rashes. Also, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, coughing and a runny nose. If experiencing allergy symptoms, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor for the possibility of dust mite allergic reaction. Dust mite allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and trouble sleeping. To avoid dust mite allergens seek professional help.
Win The War Against Dust Mites
Although you cannot completely get rid of dust mites, there are ways to control the dust mites in your home. Since dust mites thrive in humid conditions, it is a good idea to use an air cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and/ or the use of a dehumidifier or air conditioner which will maintain relative humidity at approximately 50% or below. This is a good way to cut down on the dust mites that leave nasty poop behind.
There are other ways to control dust mites in your home, such as replacing carpet with hardwood floors, using washable smaller rugs throughout your home and replacing upholstered furniture with wood, plastic, vinyl or leather furniture that you can wipe clean and changing heavy curtains to window blinds, roll down shades or washable lightweight curtains. Using a vacuum cleaner will be the least effective way to get rid of these nasty critters. Be sure not to forget your box springs when cleaning for dust mites.
Taking Back Your Home From Dust Mites
Replacing all carpeting, curtains and upholstered furniture would be ideal to keep away dust mites, however that is not always possible. Carpeting is the perfect environment for dust mites to live. Dust, pollen, dirt and food crumbs fall onto the floor, then stick to the carpet fibers. Dust mites and their feces contain a certain protein that collects in carpets; this protein can be deactivated by the use of extreme heat, acids or alkalis. Once the protein has been deactivated, it will not cause allergic reactions
Setting your carpets on fire is not a practical solution so the use of an acid or alkalis is the best course of treatment.
There are a handful of carpet cleaners on the market that focus on dust mite removal and if you decide to tackle the removal yourself, it is best to test a small area of your carpet to ensure it does not stain or discolor your carpet.
The best way to remove dust mites as best as possible is by hiring a professional carpet cleaner. They have experience with working with the required products that help to remove dust mites and keep your carpets as clean as possible.
HOW TO TEST CARPET FOR DUST MITES AND CLEANING YOUR HOME FROM DUST MITES
Take a look to see what might be under your covers! WARNING: COULD CAUSE NIGHTMARES
Being able to spot dust mites with the naked eye is the ideal way to know if you have dust mites in your carpet and throughout your home, however that is not possible since dust mites are only visible with a microscope. There is a home testing kit that can be purchased online, some require you to send the “test” to a lab for results and some allow you to test at your home using a solution on a test strip. You can clean your home again and again but no matter how clean it is, you will not be able to completely eliminate dust mites, however there are various ways to getting rid of a good amount of dust mites.
- Steam clean carpets, rugs, curtains and upholstery
Steam cleaning kills dust mites and also disinfects by killing bacteria and mold spores. Keep in mind that steam cleaning does remove dust mites but their droppings and dead bodies are what cause allergies. It is best to go over your carpet with a vacuum after you have your carpet steam cleaned and this should remove the droppings and dead bodies.
- Wash all bedding and blankets once a week in HOT water
If possible, set the heating temperature on your washer at 130° and 140 °F. This temperature will help to remove dust mite fecal matter and skin particles. If you have non-washable bedding, you can freeze it overnight. The same goes for stuffed animals, wash (if possible) in HOT water and completely dry in high heat (same heat setting in the dryer). Doing this weekly will help to keep the dust mite population in your home to a minimum.
- Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials
- Remove dust by wiping with a damp cloth
A dry cloth can stir up dust and keep it lingering in the air. Dust daily if possible since dust mites feed on dead skin cells which make up dust in the home. Be sure to wipe up dust and not just sweep up dust with a feather duster as this will ensure dust will float around the room and settle in the carpet.
- Lower the temperature and humidity level in your home.
You can test the humidity level in your home with an electronic humidity monitor. You can also get air circulating in your home by using fans and frequently opening windows.
- Use a light spray of tea tree oil/ eucalyptus spray on fabric and carpet surfaces.
Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal oil that has been used by many people because it kills everything from acne, bacteria, foot fungus to mold and mildew. Tea tree oil gets rid of dust mites and disinfects and prevents viruses and fungi. A quick recipe is to mix two cups of distilled water with two tablespoons of tea tree oil and two tablespoons of eucalyptus oil, mix together in a large and dark spray bottle, then shake well before use.
- Vacuum carpet and upholstery at least weekly with a vacuum that has a sealed HEPA filter.
A HEPA filter works by trapping small particles in the mesh of the filter, including dust, pollen and even tobacco smoke. When using a vacuum without a HEPA filter, you will vacuum up large pieces of dust; however tiny microscopic particles may go flying back into the air and again settle into the carpet or on the upholstery. Wearing a mask while vacuuming with avoid inhaling allergens. After vacuuming, leave the area for about 20 minutes or so to let any dust or allergen settle.
- Dust mites cannot survive hot temperatures; they also cannot survive extreme cold ether.
Delicate fabrics that cannot be washed, such as silk, lace and some stuffed animals can be placed in a plastic bag and put in the freezer for about 24 hours. This will kill every dust mite that may be on the fabric; however not get rid of their droppings – so it is best after 24 hours to take the item(s) outside and shake them vigorously to remove the droppings.
- Diatomaceous earth is a natural fine powder made from silica rock.
This pierces the exoskeleton of dust mites as they crawl through it which will kill dust mites instantly. Sprinkle this powder on any fabric surface such as beds, pet beds, furniture, upholstery and carpet and leave on as long as possible to give the dust mites some time to crawl through the powder and kill them. Vacuum the powder up after some time and do not use a vacuum with a filter (the powder can clog the filter).
- Keeping pets out of the bedroom is ideal and not always possible or desirable.
Dust mites love pet dander, so it is important to keep your pet(s) off the bed and out of the bedroom otherwise you and your bed will be a hot bed for dust mites. If you simply cannot sleep without your pet(s), make sure to bathe and groom them regularly and clean their bedding at least once a week. Dogs and cats can also suffer from dust mite allergies, so it is also best for your pet to keep their areas clean and as dust free as possible.
- Using a product such as Lysol can kill dust mites
However will not get rid of their dead bodies and droppings, so even after using Lysol to spray down surfaces, it is best to vacuum and shake out bedding, small rugs and clothing.
Dust mites can cause a headache for some, but with the right steps taken and continuous upkeep, dust mites can be controlled and potentially be less of a problem.