Dust mites (Dermatophagoides spp.) are minute arachnoids that thrive amid skin flakes, dust and other debris that gathers in the nooks and crannies of bedding, stuffed toys, upholstered furniture and carpets in your home. There is no single best dust mite killer; the best way to eliminate dust mites is with a multipronged approach. From lowering humidity to reducing dust to tumbling stuffed toys and fabrics in a hot dryer, you can reduce the number of dust mites and resulting allergens in your home.
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Dust Mites and Allergies
Dust mites live in warm, humid, dusty environments where humans and pets cast off their skin cells. These microscopic pests ingest the cells, pollen, fungi and bacteria. While they don't bite, they shed their skins and leave their fecal matter in your home.
Constant exposure to dust mites and their debris can result in developing a dust mite allergy and can increase asthma attacks. Reducing the number of dust mites and other allergens in the home, whether the actual pests, their feces, dust or pollen, helps reduce allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals. While nearly impossible to completely eradicate dust mites in the home, you can use a variety of methods to reduce the dust mite population.
Environmental Control of Dust Mites
Begin by removing or encapsulating dust mite habitats. Knickknacks, collectibles and other dust-collecting items should be removed, at least from bedrooms, and mattresses, box springs and pillows should be covered with dustproof covers. Put collectibles, books and other items in glass-fronted cabinets or barrister bookcases. Use a damp cloth for dusting and a dampened dust mop when cleaning hard flooring.
Carpets and upholstery collect dust, dirt and debris. While removing the carpet is one option, vacuuming twice weekly with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA or water filter is more effective than one that uses a paper bag. Also, vacuum furniture and mattresses thoroughly. Change the furnace filters regularly, replacing the old filters with a MERV 8 or above dust- and allergen-reducing electrostatic filter.
Dust mites thrive in high humidity, so reduce the moisture in the air with dehumidifiers. In addition, use the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans when cooking or showering to remove steam from your home.
Dryers and Dust Mites
High heat kills dust mites and so does laundry soap and hot water. Items that can't be washed in hot water or put in the washer at all, such as some stuffed toys, can be tumbled in a hot dryer for 15 to 20 minutes to kill the mites. After tumbling, machine-washable items can be washed with laundry detergent to remove the dead mites and their allergens and can then be dried in the dryer.
Alternatively, put fragile fabrics and delicate items in resealable bags and then put them in the freezer for 24 hours. The cold temperatures kill the tiny pests. Once thawed and dried, store them in tightly woven cloth bags or sealed storage containers to prevent reinfestation.
Dust Mites Spray
There are a variety of dust mite sprays available through local stores and online. These sprays may use essential oils, natural pyrethrins, a synthetic pyrethroid called Permethrin or another pesticide. When using any product containing essential oils or miticides, read the label carefully and apply according to the manufacturer's directions.
There are also dust mite laundry detergents available. However, any laundry detergent and a full wash cycle in water of 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more will kill the mites and wash the allergens out of fabrics.