How to Get Rid of Dust Mites: Tips & Contractor Quotes
If you are looking for an efficient way to combat dust mite, read our DIY tips on how to get rid of dust mites and get up to 4 free contractor quotes.
Dust mites are unwelcome guests in our homes. They are not only a nuisance around your living space but also a source of many allergy-related problems. They are the most common household allergens that cause wheezing, sneezing, coughing, itchy watery eyes, stuffy and runny noses. They are also known to aggravate asthma and eczema.
Dust mites are extremely tiny microscopic insects that live in dark and warm places such as in the mattresses, beddings curtains, upholstered furniture, and carpets. They feed on flakes or sheds of human and pets skin and hair. They are also known to feed on dust and moisture in the air.
These tiny allergen causing insects thrive in the warm and humid environment. As such, they are likely to be found in fiber surfaces that are not easy to clean thoroughly and accumulate as time goes by.
Even the cleanest of home can have dust mites. In fact, it is extremely hard to completely eliminate these tiny insects from your home especially with the normal cleaning procedures. Since they are tiny, it is hard to see them on the surface with a naked eye, but in most cases, they will be present all over your house. They are way smaller than most common household insects such as bedbugs, and you will need a microscope to be able to see them.
A report by Asthma and Allergy Foundation shows that dust mites together with their droppings are one the popular causes of asthma cases and allergy related problems. Another study shows that nearly 20,000 people in the United States, are known to be battling allergy issues whose source is dust mites. The same research report further goes on to show that nearly 81% of asthmatic cases are usually triggered by dust mites together with their droppings.
How Do Dust Mites Cause Allergies?
If you have dust mites in your home, you will find that you suffer most when inside your home or in a house that is infested with dust mites. In fact, the symptoms associated with dust mite allergies, are more likely to flare up immediately after a cleaning procedure such as vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning. This is because a cleaning activity is more likely to stir up dust mites and make it easier for you to inhale them.
An allergy is anything that makes your body have an allergic reaction such as sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, etc. Dust mite’s body parts and their droppings are allergens to a majority of people meaning they are a cause of allergy reactions. They secrete a DER p1, a protein that is known to flare and trigger an allergic reaction in humans.
An introduction of a foreign body; in this case dust mites, makes the immune system release antibodies to fight the allergens which may or may not cause your body harm. As a result, the antibodies may affect your nasal passages, lungs, and chest and cause inflammation. If the inflammation persists for a longer period, it may eventually have symptoms similar to those associated with asthma.
Biology and Habits of Mites
Dust mites are known not be parasitic; they do not bite, and neither do they sting humans or animals. The danger comes in their cast skin, droppings, and secretions which contain allergens. They will be present in homes that have a warm and humid environment of say about 75-80 degrees and 70-80% relative humidity. These are ideal conditions for dust mites to thrive, develop and grow.
Dust mites normally absorb moisture through their skin and lose it the same way. Thus, their survival chances are significantly affected by the humidity levels. If the humidity levels go below 50%, dust mites will have a very low chance of survival.
Dust mites, as mentioned earlier, feed on skin scales which are usually abundant in the house dust. Human beings and animals usually shed off small flakes of their skin as it the renews itself. Most of the time, the fall out will happen in bed, in sofas, and on the carpet surface. You will also find that humidity levels are usually higher in the mentioned areas where skin fallout happens regularly. As a result, carpets, sofas, mattresses and other stuffed and soft furnishings will attract most of the shed skin, dust and moisture making them most ideal conditions for dust mites to micro-habit and develop.
Dust mites generally have five stages in their lifecycle which include egg, lava stage, protonymph, tritonymph, and eventually growing into adulthood. In between the lifecycle stages, dust mites will molt; shed off their outer skin as they grow. The egg will take approximately one month to develop into an adult dust mite. This development will be dependent on humidity and temperature levels. They have a lifespan of about one to two months.
As for appearance, dust mites are known to be white and have a clear to creamy color variation. They have a round shape with a hairy body and legs. Just like spiders, dust mites have eight legs, and they do not have wings. They measure about 0.2 to 0.3 millimeters in length. But take note that it’s hard to see these tiny insects with a human eye.
Female dust mites lay approximately 50 to 80eggs which makes it possible to find a million dust mites in a small space like on the mattress or on the carpet. The protein that usually triggers allergy reactions to human and pets is usually present in the dust mite itself; whether alive or dead, in their molted skin, and in their droppings. This tiny microscopic insect can actually produce almost 200 times of its body weight in the form of waste products which triggers allergen reactions.
What Are the Dangers of Having Dust Mites Infestation in Your Home?
Even though dust mites are not parasitic, which means they do not directly harm our bodies, these tiny insects harbor a lot of risks. They are bad news for our health especially for people with allergy problems and asthma. They lurk in hidden spots in your, and it’s actually hard to see one walking around with your naked eye. In fact, they are known to live in millions in places like beddings, pillows, mattresses and carpets.
As indicated earlier in the guide, dust mites trigger allergic reactions to humans and pets. Their shed skin and their fecal matter can be a source of allergy related problems for you and your household. They can cause nasal inflation which presents itself in the following symptoms:
- A runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Red or watery eyes
- Itchy nose
- An itchy throat or roof of your mouth
- Consistent coughing
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pressure
- Facial pain
- Blue-colored or swollen skin under your eyes
- Frequent upward rubbing of nose especially in young children
Additionally, dust mites can cause allergic reactions to asthmatics. In such a case, the person will exhibit the following symptoms:
- They will probably experience difficulty in breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Wheezing and whistling sounds that are actually audible
- They will trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, wheezing and constant coughing
- If they have flu, cold or any respiratory virus, the person will experience bouts of coughing and wheezing
Other Risk Factors Associated with Dust Mites
Here are some of the risk factors that are likely to increase if you are exposed to dust mite allergies:
✓ If you are known to have a family history of allergies, you are likely to be susceptible to dust mite. You might develop allergies due to dust mites if some of your family members are known to have allergy problems
✓ If you are exposed to dust mites in high levels or live in a home infested with dust mites for a long time, you risk getting dust mite allergies. The risk increases if the exposure happens in the early stages of your life when you are young.
✓ This means that children who are exposed to high levels of dust mites are more likely to grow with dust mite allergies. As a child, there are chances that you will develop dust mite allergies all the way your adulthood.
What Are Complication Associated with Dust Mite Allergy?
Dust mites cause allergies and inflammation that can turn out to be fatal to your health. These tiny insects are bad news for your health especially if you are already exhibiting the allergy symptoms. If you already have dust mite allergy, continued exposure to these tiny insects can lead to the following complication:
Sinus infection: dust mite allergies can lead to inflammation of nasal passage and affect its tissues. If you have continual chronic inflammation of these nasal tissues due to dust mite allergies, your sinuses will end up being obstructed. Sinuses are the hollow cavities that are usually connected to your nasal passages. If an obstruction of the nasal cavities happens, chances of developing infections on your sinuses are high. This infection is known as sinusitis, and it can be problematic to you and cause you numerous trips to hospitals.
Asthma problems: if you already have asthma, long exposure to dust mites allergies can make it harder for you to manage asthma-related problems. This means that you are more likely to experience asthma attacks that can be fatal if medical treatment is not availed immediately.
In short, dust mites allergy are likely to trigger asthma, and if the situation is not addressed promptly, you will spend most of your days on emergency care due to frequent asthma attacks.
Where Are You Likely to Find Dust Mites?
We mentioned earlier in this guide that dust mites live in a warm, humid environment where there is an abundance of flakes of dead skin and pet dander. The most obvious places to find dust mites include in the beddings, pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture, curtains, on the carpet, and even on your child’s stuffed toys.
Dust mites can also be found in other areas of your home even the ones you hardly frequent. The thing with dust mites is that, as long as the living conditions are ideal for them, they will comfortable live in that particular area and continue to multiply.
Unfortunately, dust mites prefer environmental conditions that are similar to humans. The temperature and humidity levels preferred by dust mites are same as those of humans. Dust mites will thrive in warm and reasonably humid climate especially in conditions that are not too stuffy. This means that they prefer staying in places where the climate is temperate and has enough supply of food.
However, a steady supply of food is not the only thing they require. They settle in places covered with soft fabric as they burrow for food, but with time they move to a humid and moist area. If they have infested your home, this means that they will be most attracted to your mattress as its cozy, warm and damp than any other spot in your home.
In fact, a study shows that your average mattress is likely to host about 100,000 to millions of dust mites depending on how long you’ve had your mattress. Not only does a mattress automatically provide dust mites with a ready source of food, which is dead skin cells, but it also serves as a perfect warm living environment for them.
While the mattress is the ideal primary place for dust mite to thrive, you will also find them in other places in your home. These tiny microscopic pests can be found in fabric-covered surfaces especially the soft ones. You will find them on your living room chairs, your sofas, and stuffed animals in your home. These are places that are frequented by humans, and as such, they will have plenty of dead skin and warmth. In short, these areas and surfaces provide ideal set up for dust and dust mites.
Remember we mentioned that humans are not the only ones who are a source of food to dust mites. These tiny insects do not only feed on the dead human skin, but they also feed any type of dead skin cell. This means that the animals in your home also provide a source of food to dust mites.
Therefore, places, where pets stay such as pet beds, are susceptible to dust mites as well. In fact, dust mites are more likely to congregate on a pet’s bed in large numbers. These insects can be found in bird’s net and even dens of wildlife animals in massive numbers. As mentioned earlier, as long as the place provides the ideal environmental conditions and a source of food, dust mites will set up their residence and multiply to large numbers.
Everyone sheds off some bits of their skin regularly. It is therefore impossible to eliminate their source of food. You might consider making the temperatures and humidity level unfavorable for them, but this will only become unpleasant for you as well, and so, it becomes an unpractical solution. The sad truth is that dust mites are likely to be around us often and make our lives impossible and miserable.
Signs That You Have Dust Mites in Your Home
Dust a very common in a majority of homes. Unfortunately, these tiny insects cannot be seen with a naked eye. Our homes are supposed to be, safe, a haven; a comfortable place to stay, but if it’s infested with dust mites in high quantity, which we cannot even see, then this becomes a big challenging problem.
To make matters worse, dust mites do not bite like other common bugs such as bedbugs, which would be an easier way to know of their presence. The only symptoms that our body exhibit as a result of effects of dust mites allergies are also similar to those of flu and other allergy-related problems. You might actually mistake dust mite allergies for other ailments such as asthma, flu, or even sinusitis.
For this reason, it’s essential to know ways to detect dust mites in your home. But the most common question people ask is if they can see dust mites. There are cases where people discovered that they live with millions of dust mites in their home and they have never seen a single one. As mentioned earlier, dust mites are tiny microscopic organisms that cannot be seen with a naked eye. They are about 0.3mm in size, meaning they are extremely tiny to be seen crawling around your home.
Apart from the obvious dust mites allergy symptoms such constant sneezing, coughing, skin rashes, itchy eyes, watery and red eyes, itchy throat, wheezing and many others, you need to use a microscope to confirm their presence in your home.
Use A Microscope
Since dust mites are extremely tiny, you will require a microscope for you to be able to see them. When you look at dust mites under a microscope, you will see that they look like small spiders since they belong to the same family of Arachnid. Dust mites just like spiders have translucent bodies and eight legs. However, unlike spiders, dust mites do not have eyes, neither do they have an antenna.
As a result of lack of sight, dust mites can easily crawl to other parts of your home and spread quickly. In fact, these tiny insects spread easily by clinging onto clothing and then they are dropped in other parts of the room. If you have dust mites in your bedroom, it’s possible that you carried them through your clothing from another place.
To detect if you have dust mites in your home, purchase a microscope that has at least 10x magnifying lens. This will help find out if you have dust mites crawling in your space. You will need to collect a few samples in various rooms in your home. You can do this using a clear piece of tape. Make sure that you collect samples around the dusty parts of your home like under the chairs, at the corner of a room, or on the surface of a fabric covered sofa or chair.
Once you have collected a few samples, put the tape under the microscope and examine the sample. Here, you are looking to see if you will spot tiny insects that resemble a small spider. They should fall under the description we outlined above in this guide. This includes a translucent body with no eyes, but have eight legs. As you examine the samples, be keen to look for droppings that are commonly excreted by dust mites. The feces are small rectangular pellets of brown color.
Get Diagnosed by A Doctor
If you have symptoms that are similar to dust mites allergies, you can have a doctor diagnose the allergies. Your doctor will have to give you an in-depth physical examination to determine the cause of your allergy symptoms and then discuss with you the possible causes. If your doctor suspects that your symptoms are as a result of dust mites allergies, they are likely to suggest a skin or blood test. If you have been these allergy problems constantly, it is possible that the source of your allergy issues is dust mites. Your home could already be infested with millions of dust mites crawling all over the place making your life miserable.
Ways of Getting Rid of Dust Mites
If you are already experiencing dust mites allergies, it’s possible that you already have an infestation in your home. An infestation of dust mites means that you have millions of these tiny organisms crawling everywhere in your home. As they move around your home, dust mites will leave their fecal droppings anywhere which also trigger allergy and asthma reaction to humans.
The sad news is that it is utterly impossible to eliminate dust mites from your home completely. However, this does not mean you have to endure an infestation in your home. There are several measures that you can take to reduce their numbers and consequently reduce allergy symptoms, respiratory complications, and asthma attacks.
Take Away Their Home
Dust mites are attracted to dark and warm places that have a constant and ready supply of their source of food – human dead skin cells. You are most likely to find them in fiber-covered surfaces. Fibers are perfect hiding places for dust mites, and they also collect food. Fiber surfaces are not that easy to clean. As a result, dust and dust mites will collect on the surface and accumulate.
If you have rugs and carpets in your home, you need to think of other options especially if you are dealing with a dust mite infestation. You might have to get rid of carpets and rugs and all fiber-based floor coverings. Replace the fiber-based floor coverings with other forms of floor coverings such as laminate, hardwood, tile, vinyl, engineered wood, or concrete floors.
Hard flooring surfaces are easy to vacuum and mop regularly unlike fiber- covered floorings. It’s easier to remove all dust mite, dust mite’s droppings and dust from hard surfaces than on fiber surfaces. If possible, you should consider replacing upholstered furniture with leather or hardwood. Such surfaces hardly collect and retain dust mite allergens as they are easy to clean.
If you have a severe dust mite infestation, you should also consider replacing your window coverings. Dust mites love sheltering in heavy drapes. It would be a good idea to get rid of drapes and replace them with an alternative window covering such as hard surface blinds.
If you choose to retain the heavy curtains, make sure you wash them weekly in a washing machine with hot water. Afterward, dry them with a dryer, or hang them to dry but make sure you follow the care label’s instructions. In some cases, you might be having curtains that require dry clean only. If this is the case, make sure you take them to dry cleaner often to kill the dust mites if present.
If you are not in a position to get rid of your carpet flooring or fabric covered upholstery furniture, you can choose to apply denaturing agents. These are some the best allergy control products. You can purchase denaturing agents in the form of powder or spray. They are usually labeled ADMS anti-allergen spray, or anti-allergy solution spray, or x-mite powder. For example, you can purchase ADS anti-allergen dust spray on Amazon, a spray bottle of 32oz. Or, you purchase a carpet cleaner X-Mite anti-allergen moist powder.
Denaturing products when used to clean fiber-covered surfaces, break down the protein that is responsible for causing allergen reaction in humans. The products will not get rid of dust mite allergens, but they lower the allergy reaction to you. If you are not in a position to get rid of your carpet or upholstered furniture, denaturing products can be of great help in reducing allergic reactions due to dust mites.
Clean Your Home Thoroughly
Dust mites are known to stay in a particular area due to the availability of their source of food which is dead skin cells and dander. These sources of their food are mostly found in dust. You are more likely to find dust mites in dusty places in your home.
One the most effective methods to eliminate dust mites in your home is to make sure they have no source of food. This means you need to dust off surfaces with a damp cloth. Rinse off the cloth as you dust off to avoid spreading the dust.
A damp cloth is ideal for dusting off because a dry one will only stir up the allergens and consequently spread them further. When dusting, pay attention to furniture, books, shelves, pictures, frames, fixtures, decorations, trinkets and any other item that is likely to collect dust.
Vacuum Your House
Vacuuming your house regularly is another effective way of reducing dust mite population. It will also help in getting rid of dust, dust mite’s feces, skin and any other form of allergens present in your house.
Vacuuming can sometimes stir up dust mites and spread them in your entire house. To avoid this from happening, it’s advisable that you use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. This kind of vacuum will trap all the allergens such that they will not be blown everywhere in your house. You can purchase VonHaus vacuum cleanerwith HEPA filter.
When vacuuming your house, you should make that you pay close attention to corners of your house, to the floors, baseboards, carpeting, furniture, underneath furniture and behind furniture. Additionally, make use of upholstery attachments to reach along the corners, seams, and crevices of your furniture.
When vacuum your house, protect yourself by covering your face with a mask to avoid being in contacting some of the circulating dust. If you know that you are allergic to dust mites, it’s advisable that you ask someone who is not allergic to them to help you with the vacuuming. After a vacuuming process, you should avoid using the vacuumed area for at least two to three hours.
Wash Your Beddings at High Temperatures
One of the most common places that you’re likely to find dust mites congregating is on your beddings. As mentioned earlier in this guide, dust mites cannot endure high temperatures, especially above 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by removing sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and covers from your bed.
Place everything you have removed from your bed in the washing machine. Wash them in the regular setting using hot water. For you to be able to kill dust mites when washing your beddings, you have to set your washing machine at 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Make this cleaning process a weekly routine.
Alternatively, you can clean your beddings using de-mite laundry additive which gets rid of dust mites and their allergens. To use this product, add a small amount of it in your washing machine and clean your beddings in the solution.
Toys especially stuffed animals, and the ones made with fabrics are a great spot for dust mites to hide. If you have these types of toys in your home, you need to wash them regularly. Place all the washable toys in a washing machine and wash them in hot water. Afterward, place them in a dryer and dry them at high temperatures.
Freeze Anything That Cannot Be Washed
Some fabric items cannot be washed in a washing machine to kill dust mites. These are items like some types of stuffed toys; cushion covers made of silk, pillows, delicate fabrics and any other item that has a label indicating not suitable for machine wash or can be destroyed by high temperatures.
Freezing such items can help get rid of dust mites. If an item is sizeable enough to fit in the freezer, seal it in a container or plastic bag. Place it in the freezer and let it freeze for about 24hours. This exercise will definitely kill dust mites as low temperatures are not the most favorable conditions for this bugs.
Control Humidity Levels in Your Home
As discussed earlier in the guide, dust mites prefer congregating in places where humidity levels are high. You can try making the conditions in your home less favorable to these bugs by reducing humidity levels using a dehumidifier.
Dust mites do not drink water; rather, they absorb it through their bodies directly from the air. If you make your home dry, these bugs will not be able to survive in such an environment. A dehumidifier will help you control the humidity level in your home, especially in your bedroom.
In addition to using a dehumidifier, open your windows especially on days when the weather is dry. When cooking or taking a shower, or doing any other task
that creates steam, use fans and vents to lower humidity levels. If possible, install a hygrometer to help monitor the humidity levels indoors by keeping them below 50 percent.
Reduce Temperature Levels
Dust mites thrive in high temperatures. They prefer temperature levels of about 75 to 80 F. during the cold season, reduce your temperatures indoors to about 70 F and make the bedrooms cooler. During summer, you can lower indoor temperature by using fans, keeping the windows open and using air conditioning.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a food grade powder that is made from fossilized remains of diatoms. The powder itself is not harmful to humans, but it can be fatal to insects and parasites. You can purchase diatomaceous earth from most stores.
Sprinkle this powder on your beddings, mattresses, rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains and pet beds. Sprinkle a light layer of diatomaceous earth powder and let it stay overnight and then vacuum it. Make sure you purchase diatomaceous earth powder that is labeled as food grade as it’s safe to use particularly in homes with pets.
Reduce Clutter in Your Home
Clutter around your home attracts dust which creates an ideal atmosphere for dust mites and a feeding zone. It is easy to clean your house and maintain it clean to reduce dust mite population. However, if you have clutter and other unnecessary items lying around your home, it will be impossible to maintain everything clean. In fact, it can be time-consuming to clean up a big number of picture frames, stacks of books, piled up ornaments other junk items cluttered around your home.
If you have clutter in your home, its best to get rid of it to create an environment that is easy to clean. You will also manage to get rid of hideout places for dust mites. As for the remaining surfaces and items, always make sure you wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove dust.
Take Care of Pet’s Hygiene and Grooming
Remember, dust mites also feed on pet dander. In fact, cat dander is known stay in the carpets for almost 20 weeks and can even stay longer, for years on mattresses. Therefore, it’s essential to reduce dander in your home. To do this, make sure that you take your pets outside on a daily basis to brush them thoroughly. This way, you will reduce the rate of dander circulation inside your home.
In addition, give your dogs a monthly bath. This is also another way of reducing dander in your indoors. The pet’s beddings should also be washed on a daily basis with hot water to kill dust mites. Alternatively, you can purchase allergen-proof fabric covers to use on pet’s beds. Also, while your pets are indoors, discourage them from sitting on couches and upholstered furniture.
Cover Your Mattresses and Pillows
We have already established that mattresses and pillows are one the prime hideouts for dust mites. To protect your mattress and pillows invest in covers. The covers are made of hypo-allergic fabric that helps in protecting your bed from allergens, dust mites and other bugs such as bedbugs.
Once you cover your mattress and pillows, they cover them up, and dust mites will not be able to nest inside. If there are any allergens present in mattress or pillow, the covers will protect you from them. You should always make sure that the covers are clean. If you are using plastic covers, wipe them with a damp cloth daily and wash the ones made of fabric weekly.
Ventilate Your House
Ventilating your house allows free flow of air and its good for your health. Better ventilation also lowers humidity levels indoors which also helps in controlling dust mites. In addition, a well-ventilated house accumulates less dust.
To improve ventilation in your home, open your windows often and use ceiling fans and portable fans. Also, use the vents in the house especially in the kitchen, bathroom and any other part of the house that creates steam.
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils such as eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil are effective at killing dust mites. In fact, these types of essential oil are regarded as some of the best oils for getting rid of dust mites. The procedure of using essential oils to eliminate dust mites is pretty easy.
To make an essential oil spray, mix two teaspoons of eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil in two cups of water; use distilled water. Transfer the mixture to a dark-colored spray bottle and spray the solution on carpets, couch, beddings, curtains and upholstered furniture.
Here are some of the helpful product that can help you handle dust mite allergies and control their population.
Getting rid of dust mites can seem like an impossible task especially when you realize that you have tons of them crawling in your home. But, with a proper cleaning routine and a little bit of change in items that host these tiny microscopic insects you can eventually control or eliminate their presence in your home.
Dust mites thrive in a warm and humid environment. You will find them in mattresses, beddings, carpets, curtains and upholstered furniture. They feed on human dead skin cells and pet dander. No matter how clean your home is, it’s possible to have an infestation of dust mites. These tiny creatures are the cause of allergy problems such sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, itchy throat, runny nose, etc. They can lead to allergy complications and trigger asthma attacks and sinusitis.
Several preventive measures can be used to eliminate or reduce dust mite population. Through cleaning your house your house by vacuuming with vacuum cleaners with HEPA can help with dust mite situation. Also, dusting surfaces in your home with a damp cloth will control dust. Additionally, use a dehumidifier to control humidity levels and ventilate your house properly.
Lastly, encase your mattress and pillows with allergen-proof covers to protect yourself from dust mite allergens. These among many other practices will help you handle dust mites infestation in your home.