Dust mites love warm, humid areas filled with dust. Bed pillows, mattresses, carpets and furniture are great places for them to live. Cleaning each one of these places can make a real difference in the number of dust mites in your home. |
Cutting down the number of dust mites in the home is an important step if you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma.
Dust mites thrive in places where dead skin cells are most likely to be found: on mattresses, pillows, bedcovers, carpets, upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, clothes, or other fabric items in the home.
While it is impossible to have a dust-free home, it is possible to live in a home that minimizes dust that is carried in from the outside and to avoid conditions that can promote allergens in dust.
Use materials that are easy to clean. This will make it more difficult for dust mites and mold spores to thrive.
Dust is easily removed from smooth and cleanable surfaces (smooth flooring such as wood, tile, linoleum, and vinyl) through vacuuming and mopping. Use a vacuum cleaner with high filtration features (high efficiency or HEPA filter).
Carpets pose several problems. They are generally more difficult to vacuum effectively than hard surfaces. Also, carpets and the sponge-like pads often installed under carpet can trap moisture once they become wet (due to a plumbing or water leak, flood, or condensation), providing a fertile setting for mold and dust mites. Short- and closed-loop-pile carpets (such as commercial grade carpet) are typically easier to clean than loose-pile carpets where dust and dirt falls through to the underlying material.
Clean fabrics and other dust mite havens. The following measures will kill dust mites and reduce allergen levels.
Wash sheets in soapy water at 130°F every one or two weeks to kill dust mites. Take blankets to the dry cleaner, hang them outdoors once a year, or wash them frequently. Cover conventional mattresses and pillows with allergen-impermeable covers or dust mite covers (micro-porous material to prevent infestation). Wash soft toys and stuffed animals regularly in hot water, followed by thorough drying. The heat will kill off the mites. Shampoo, steam clean, or beat non-washable rugs and carpets once a year. This removes large particles missed by the vacuum cleaner.
Reduce moisture and maintain a low relative humidity in the home. Since dust mites cannot drink water, they need to absorb it from the air, which is why they thrive in humid conditions. Reducing the humidity in your home will make it less hospitable to dust mites, which do not thrive below 60% relative humidity. It may not be feasible to completely eliminate dust mites from homes in moderately humid climates.
One way to help reduce moisture in the home is to run a bathroom and kitchen fan that exhausts to the outside after showering/bathing or cooking.
Use a damp cloth or rag weekly to wipe surfaces where dust can collect. This includes countertops, shelves and windowsills. If your children have allergies, make sure to buy them stuffed animals that you can put in the washing machine.
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