Dust mites belong to the arachnida class, since they have eight legs like a spider. These microscopic creatures eat the skin cells shed by humans and live in upholstered furniture and carpeting. While dust mites don’t bite, they can cause allergies. To overcome these allergies, eliminate the dust mites and reduce the dust in your home. No single method kills off all mites; you must use multiple methods.
Dust mites thrive in environments with high humidity, between 70 and 80 percent relative humanity. To inhibit the dust mite population growth, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner in your home in order to regulate and keep the relative humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. According to the University of Nebraska, an environment with a 60 percent or lower relative humidity causes the dust mites to stop growing and eventually die out. Use a hygrometer -- available at most hardware stores -- to measure the humidity levels in your house.
Reduce Food Source
You can reduce the dust mites' food source in several ways to keep the population low. Avoid keeping pets with fur, such as cats and dogs, or feathered pets. They only add dander to the dust and increase the mites’ food supply. Dust your home with a damp cloth before vacuuming. This allows the dust to settle on the ground. Regularly vacuum carpets, furniture, drapes and mattresses. Use a vacuum with a water filter or a high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter. You can also invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove dust from the air.
To remove dust mite and dander from bedding, linens, blankets and pillows, wash them weekly. You can use any detergent, but your water temperature must reach 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If you own blankets or other linens that can’t be washed, dry clean them at least once a year. Since dust mites live in your carpets, shampoo or steam clean them at least once a year. It’s best to do this in the spring. Once cleaned, cover your mattresses, box springs and pillows in allergen blocking covers. These covers consist of securely woven fabric that doesn’t allow dust mites to colonize. Also, regularly wash your children’s plush toys in warm water and allow them to dry thoroughly in order to eliminate dust mites on the toys.
Choose your home furnishings wisely so dust mites will have a hard time finding a suitable habitat. Don’t buy overstuffed chairs and sofas, since they collect dust. Purchase washable curtains. Use synthetic pillows instead of feather pillows. Install hardwood, tile, linoleum or vinyl flooring instead of wall-to-wall carpeting in your home. Reduce the clutter in your home, such as furniture, knickknacks and paper products like books and newspapers.