Though dust mites are invisible to the naked eye, they make their presence known through signs such as watery eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing. If you experience any of these symptoms, it could mean that you have a serious problem with dust mites in your home. Dust mites especially prefer beds, which is why mattress companies advertise their products as dust mite resistant.
Skin particles account for about 80 percent of the dust in the air in your home, according to the Ohio State University. Dust mites feed on skin particles, which means that the more dust you have in your home, the more dust mites you have. Your bed is among the worst havens for dust mites to breed since you spend roughly one-third of your time there and never wash it.
Companies that produce memory foam mattresses claim that they are less attractive to dust mites than conventional innerspring mattresses. Memory foam mattresses aren't made of the same fibrous materials, they argue, making them a less likely food source for dust mites. Such claims can be compelling enough for allergy-sensitive consumers to buy memory foam mattresses. Yet simple facts about dust mites detract from their credibility.
Dust mites consume skin particles, which is why they exists in mattresses as well as in pillows and in upholstered furniture. Even without the natural fibers of an innerspring mattress, they can still consume the skin cells that slough off onto your memory foam mattress. In fact, a 2002 study published in the "European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology" revealed that foam mattresses have four to eight times as many dust mites as innerspring mattresses, which is likely due to their more "open cell" structure.
Reducing Dust Mites
Washing your bedding at least once per week in 130-degree F water is a major step toward reducing dust mites on your bed. Cover your mattress --- whether memory foam or innerspring --- with a dust-proof cover to prevent as many dust mites from entering the mattress as you can. Replace your mattress at least once every 10 years.
- Ohio State University Extension; House Dust Mites; William F. Lyon
- Consumer Reports; Q and A: How Often Should I Buy a New Mattress?; December 2007
- My Foam Mattress: Are Mattresses From Tempurpedic Dust Mites Resistant?
- National Institutes of Health: Dust Mites
- May Clinic; Dust Mite Allergy; November 2010