Dust Mite Facts!
Preventing Dust Mites
Dust Mites

Preventing Dust MitesIn general, the best way to reduce dust mites in the home is to:

  • Clear dust-harboring surfaces or items from a room
  • Cover pillows, mattresses and comforters with mite-proof encasings
  • Clean bedding, furniture and flooring in the room frequently

The National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic explain that eradicating dust mites completely is not possible, but you can reduce the number of dust mites in your home by:

  • Reducing Humidity: Dust mites are rarely found in areas with less than 50% humidity. It may decrease allergy symptoms to lower humidity by running an air-conditioner or dehumidifier. Opening windows may cool a room, but can allow pollen- another potential allergen - into the home.
  • Frequent Laundering: Weekly washing of bedding is recommended to kill dust mites, although experts disagree on the most effective method. The National Institutes of Health recommends washing bedding in hot water (130 to 140 degrees F). According to the American Thoracic Society, a Korean researcher recently found that washing at a lower temperature is also effective, if the laundry is given a three-minute rinsing with cold water twice.
  • Dusting and Vacuuming: Cleaning can actually stir up dust mite particles, so it's best to have someone who is not allergic complete these chores. If not, an allergy sufferer should wear a mask when dusting or vacuuming, then allow 20 minutes for dust to settle before re-entering a cleaned room. Damp dusting traps more dust mite particles than dry dusting. A vacuum with a HEPA filter or micro-filter bag will help remove dust mite particles.
  • Freezing: Placing items such as pillows or stuffed toys in a freezer can also help kill dust mites. Enclose the items in plastic first, freeze for 24 to 48 hours, then vacuum or hand-wash items to remove dust mite bodies and byproducts.
  • Removing Soft Surfaces: Coverings like carpet and upholstery make cozy nests for dust mites. Removing carpeting, padded furniture and fabric window coverings can make a room less friendly to dust mites. If you do prefer a soft floor covering, opt for a throw rug that can be washed, rather than wall-to-wall carpeting. Blinds or shutters that can be wiped down are a good substitute for non-washable drapes or curtains.
  • Filtering the Air: A high-efficiency media filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 for your home's HVAC system is recommended by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The agency also suggests changing the filter every three months. Other agencies, such as the Clemson University Cooperative Extension, state that air filters for the home's central heating and cooling system are ineffective in controlling dust mite populations. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) certifies portable electric room air cleaners. For more information, go to www.cadr.org.