The first step in knowing how to get rid of dust mites is understanding that simply killing dust mites is not enough. And to really get a grasp of why, we’ll need to learn a little more about these disgusting creatures first.
Yes, we know. Nobody thinks it’s going to be fun to research some dust mite facts.
And if you’re the squeamish type, this article may be enough to make you break out in a cold sweat. Because dust mites are enough to give anyone the creeps.
But to properly wage war on these buggers, we need to understand them. We’re going to help you do that and then show you exactly how to get rid of dust mites.
The sooner we get started, the sooner you can stop itching and sneezing. So let’s dive in.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Are Dust Mites?
The term mites is a little misleading. It sounds almost cute. But in reality, these creatures are anything but. Mites are arachnids, so they have eight legs. They are usually tiny. And some of them are parasites.
Dust mites are definitely tiny. We’re talking about 1/64 of an inch in size, or 0.33 mm if you hate freedom. Small enough that these creatures can live in your home completely unnoticed. Which is not a particularly pleasant thought for anyone.
What Do Dust Mites Look Like?
Dust mites don’t look like anything. At least, not to the naked eye. These pests are so small that they are invisible unless you get them under a microscope.
Once you do, prepare to be grossed out. A dust mite’s body resembles a kind of swollen bag with four legs on either side. The first pair of legs curl forward in front of them, and they have small mandibles surrounding their mouths.
Basically, they’re hideous. You can tell them I said that.
Where Do Dust Mites Come From?
From an alternate universe where terrible creatures run amok. But more seriously, dust mites travel easily due to their small size.
But they’re not sneaking into your home from the great outdoors like so many other pests do. Nope, you’re bringing them in with you on your clothes and luggage when you visit other indoor places.
Dust mites typically hitch a ride in people’s clothes, so it’s quite possible for you to catch them from your workplace, a restaurant, bar, movie theater, coffee shop – really anywhere that you would come into contact with people.
Think of all the places you may go in a typical week:
- Other people’s homes
- Other people’s cars
- Public transport
- Office buildings
And so on and so on. As you can see, there are a lot of places dust mites can come from.
Honestly, it’s hard to make jokes about dust mites, because there could be one right behind me RIGHT NOW.
How Do You Get Dust Mites?
As you can see, because they are so small, dust mites travel very easily. You could have lots of them on you without knowing it, and spread them wherever you go.
Typically, they don’t travel on the body, but they will travel in clothes. So unless you’re willing to go naked for the rest of your life, you’re always at risk of bringing these creatures home.
But just because you bring them home doesn’t mean that your home needs to become infested with dust mites.
That’s because dust mites need a couple things in order to survive and thrive:
- An optimal temperature of about 68°F to 77°F (around 20°C to 25°C)
- Air humidity levels of 70% to 80%
- Food – i.e. the dead skin we shed
Removing the above dust mite necessities goes a long way toward making your home an uninviting environment for dust mites. Which means that dust mites may sneak into your home but you won’t have to live with them.
What Do Dust Mites Eat?
If you’ve been finding this article gross so far, hold tight. It’s about to get grosser.
Dust mites eat dead skin. Our dead skin. You may or may not have known that one of the major components of dust is the dead skin cells we cast off every day. If you didn’t know that, you’re welcome for that horrible image.
But it’s true. The average adult sheds around 70 to 140 mg of dead skin every single day. And this provides a banquet for dust mites.
Are Dust Mites Harmful?
Dust mites don’t bite. Nor do they burrow into people’s skin. And luckily, they don’t carry any diseases. They are far too small to do us any direct harm.
But the chief danger of these creatures comes from the allergic reactions they can provoke.
Dust mite allergy symptoms can be light, like:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red, irritated eyes
- Itchy nose, mouth or throat
- Itchy skin
- Skin rash
- Postnasal drip
But they can also be much more severe, especially if you have asthma. You may also experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or wheezing
As you can see, dust mites may not be harmful for many of us. But if you have a dust mite allergy, they can be a significant source of discomfort.
Even worse, they can trigger asthma attacks, which can be dangerous. They may even have caused deaths by anaphylaxis in the case of people with severe allergies.
So dust mites aren’t harmless. And the less you have, the better, because every dust mite is an allergen-causing machine.
Can You Just Kill Dust Mites?
Killing dust mites may give you a feeling of gleeful vengeance but it doesn’t solve the problem.
A dead dust mite can’t breed and produce more of its kind. And its days of going to the bathroom will be over. So in that sense, there’s nothing wrong with killing these nasty creatures.
But the allergic reaction that dust mites trigger is caused by the proteins in their bodies.
Even once the bugs are dead, their bodies still contain these proteins, and will still release particles into the air.
So in the battle against these bugs, it’s more important to remove dust mites, their shed skins, and yes, that poop, than it is to kill the actual bugs.
What you need are solutions that will either remove the allergen or neutralize the protein it contains. Let’s cover the absolute best ways to really get rid of dust mites.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites
Listen. No one’s saying don’t kill dust mites. Go ahead. Avenge every sniffle and sneeze on these mites if it makes you feel better.
Just don’t expect your murderous rage to solve the problem.
If you really want to get rid of dust mites and the discomfort that they cause, you need to look well beyond simply killing them.
You need to think about removal rather than vengeance. You need to get rid of the shed skins and the droppings and the bugs, whether dead or alive, that cause your allergies.
For that, there are a few methods available to you – here’s how to go above and beyond killing and actually get rid of dust mites.
So what works, you ask? Here’s a list of the most effective ways to get rid of dust mites in order from the most effective and down.
Investing in one of the best vacuums for dust mites tops the list as an all-natural and highly effective way of getting rid of dust mites and the allergens they produce.
But you want to make sure you don’t choose any old vacuum – nope, you want one with a HEPA filter. Why? A high-efficiency particulate air filter, or HEPA filter, purifies the air by removing tiny particles down to 0.3 microns in size.
In case you’re wondering, that’s really small. Far smaller than a dust mite, or even a dust mite dropping. In fact, HEPA filters can even trap cigarette smoke.
So vacuuming with a dust mite vacuum that contains a HEPA filter is a surefire way to remove not just dust mites, but also the allergens they leave behind.
Anti-Dust Mite Carpet Powder
Vacuuming with a HEPA-equipped machine is already one of the most effective ways to get rid of both mites and allergens.
But if you are looking for a more aggressive approach – and really, why wouldn’t you? – you could try combining vacuuming your carpet with an anti-allergen powder that will break down those pesky proteins and help reduce your allergic symptoms.
This kind of combined approach is one of the most effective approaches to solving your mite problem.
Washer and Dryer
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating. Washing and drying clothes, and especially your bed sheets, blankets, and pillows, is the perfect home remedy to remove not just the mites but also the allergens.
Wash in the hottest water you can – over 130°F is what you need to kill the mites quickly. By the same token, drying your fabrics will help to kill any dust mites that may have survived the wash.
Tip: Going the extra step of adding a laundry additive is a smart way to completely eliminate dust mite allergens from your bedding, clothes and fabrics – De-Mite works amazingly well.
For parts of the home that you can’t wash, such as furniture and carpets, steam can be a powerful weapon in the fight against dust mites. The heat from the steam will kill the mites and their eggs, so it can quickly reduce the population and the allergens they produce.
It’s so effective, in fact, that one study found that a single steam treatment was sufficient to completely kill all mite populations in the treated carpet.
Another study found that the decreases in dust mite allergens didn’t last as long after a single vacuuming as the decreases lasted following both steam cleaning and vacuuming.
So if you want to complete eliminate dust mite populations and the allergens they produce – go for the double whammy of steam cleaning and vacuuming.
You can get a great steam cleaner for around $100 and yes, it’s an extra step but taking the time to steam the carpets and furniture thoroughly means less dust mites and thus, less allergies.
Dust Mite Covers
Dust mites love the bed. Who doesn’t? A bed provides everything a dust mite needs. Humidity. Darkness. Ready access to shed human skin. It’s a warm, soft, welcoming paradise for these creatures. So much so that a mattress can contain as many as 10 million of these tiny bugs.
I know. After learning that, I thought I’d never feel safe in bed again.
But you get over it. Especially when you realize you can seal them in so they can’t access your delicious dead skin ever again.
How you do that is simple: dust mite covers. These enclose mattresses to keep dust mites trapped inside. They also trap the allergens, making for a better night’s sleep for you and everyone else in your home.
Of course, dust mites can live in places besides the mattress. So covering your bed won’t solve the problem by itself. But it will remove a major population center of these bugs and allow you a good night’s sleep.
Another super simple way to both kill and prevent dust mites is to reduce the humidity levels in your home. As you know by now, dust mites like it humid. In fact, they need it to survive.
Dust mites thrive at humidity levels of 75-80%. That’s when they’re at their happiest, comfortable enough to hunker down and start massive dust mite families.
But they cannot survive when the humidity is below 50%.
It goes without saying that a dehumidifier is going to be one of your best investments in your war against dust mites. The Midea Cube Dehumidifier is the perfect choice for larger spaces as it can cover up to 3,500 square feet. But for a more budget but equally powerful option, the Vremi Dehumidifier is a great choice.
To measure the humidity levels in your home, get a hygrometer. They are very affordable tools to constantly monitor how attractive your home is for dust mites.
HEPA air purifiers
Here’s something incredibly disturbing but useful to know:
Microscopic dust mite particles (especially feces) can remain suspended in the air for hours and be inhaled. To help remove these allergens, HEPA filters can be used within portable air cleaners, placed in bedrooms and other critical areas of the house.The Entomology Department of the University of Kentucky
A good quality air purifier, equipped with a HEPA filter, can strain dust mite particles out of the air. These devices can be expensive, but if you have an allergy, you may well find it’s worth it.
If you don’t want to spend your whole life sniffling and sneezing, a good air purifier can help you breathe easy and resist the effects of dust mite allergens. And you don’t even have to do anything apart from plugging it in.
A/C and Furnace Filters
As you can surely see by now, if you have dust mite allergies – filters are your best friend. You’ve probably also picked up on how, when it comes to getting rid of dust mites, the solution lies more in the way you set up your living space than actively going out to hunt and kill dust mites.
Such is the case with these filters – they passively catch whatever dust mites and other allergens get recycled through your house whenever you have the furnace or air-conditioning on. They may seem like a stupid simple solution but the best solutions often are.
Get these. They’re an absolute essential if you’re living with dust mites.
Dust Mite Sprays
There are sprays and cleaners available that are specially labeled for use against dust mites. The best of these dust mite sprays will contain a substance that breaks down the proteins the creatures produce. This is far more effective than simply killing the bugs, since it addresses the problem at the source.
As well as spraying these products anywhere dust mites may congregate, you can use them to wipe up the dust that the bugs feed on.
That way, you’ll not only break down the allergy-producing proteins but also remove the food source for the mites, not to mention those pesky allergen-causing dead bodies.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites in Bed
One of the most common places in the house for dust mites to hide is in your bed. And why wouldn’t they? You spend around 8 hours every day on the bed, shedding a veritable buffet of dead skin cells for dust mites to feast on.
So how do you make your dust mite free? Here’s how to get rid of dust mites in bed:
Do laundry regularly. Not to sound like your mom, but putting all your bedding through the washer and dryer is an easy, cheap way to quickly get rid of dust mites living in the bed. Just placing your sheets, pillowcases, blankets and duvet covers in the dryer for 15 minutes at 130 degrees will do the trick.
Invest in dust mites covers. Dust mite covers quickly trap in all the dust mites already living on your mattress. They also make it impossible for more of these hungry pests to get inside. Don’t stop at mattress covers either – cover up the pillowcases and duvets.
Change to fabrics that are more dust mite resistant. Dust mites are most likely to build up on fabrics that attract the most dust. These are fabrics with large pore sizes like wool and particularly fleece. Instead, go for fabrics that are less likely to retain dust and thus dust mites like cotton, linen, satin, microfiber, and especially silk.
Switch to feather pillows. It was previously thought that pillow filled with synthetic materials like polyester were better for allergy sufferers. But study after study shows that feather pillows are more resistant to dust mites. Feather pillow covers were also shown to be more resistant to dust mites.
Do the above and dust mites in your bed will be a thing of the past.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites On Humans
Dust mites don’t live on humans. These microscopic creatures may live off the flakes of dead skin that we shed, but they won’t eat the skin straight from the source.
The closest dust mites will get to living on us is that they may hitchhike on our clothing.
But they certainly won’t live on humans.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of dust mites on humans because you have red, itchy skin that you suspect are dust mite bites, it’s likely that your skin is reacting to dust mite allergens in your environment.
It’s also possible that you have another kind of mite causing this irritation, like:
- Scabies. These burrow into the top layer of skin and lay eggs, causing a rash that looks like blisters or pimples.
- Rodent and bird mites. They prefer rodents and birds but will bite humans if their hosts die.
- Chiggers. These biting mites cut into the skin and leave itchy red bumps that look like hives or pimples.
On the other hand, if you’re looking up how to get rid of dust mites on humans because you found a small bug feeding on your skin – it’s definitely not dust mites. It’s more likely to be a blood-sucking insect like bed bugs or fleas.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites in a Couch
If you spend a lot of time on your couch – who doesn’t? – it’s very likely there are dust mites living in it. This is particularly true if your couch is made of a fabric that easily accumulates dust.
So how do you get rid of dust mites in a couch? Here are your best bets.
Wash and dry all couch coverings. Any couch coverings and couch pillows should be washed and dried regularly. If they can’t be washes, at least run them through the dryer at the hottest setting to kill dust mites.
Use an anti-allergen spray. These specialized sprays both kill and break down the allergens produced by dust mites. They’re also safe to use on fabrics so you can spray your couch for immediate relief.
Steam clean your sofa. Another way to instantly kill dust mites living in your couch is to use a steam cleaner. Make sure to get all the nooks and crevices.
Use a dust mite proof bedsheet. Finding a dust mite proof couch cover can be challenging as sofas vary so much in size and shape. A simple solution is to cover your sofa with a dust mite proof bedsheet. Make sure to wash it regularly.
Ditch the cloth couch. Cloth-covered couches are the worst for allergy sufferers. The large pore size of the fabric allows dust to easily penetrate into the cushions and allows dust mites to freely roam about. If you can, invest in leather or synthetic leather sofas. These are impenetrable for dust mites and easy to wipe clean.
How to Prevent Dust Mites
Once you’ve gone through the pain and hassle of getting rid of dust mites, you’ll want to make sure you never get them again.
But here’s the unfortunate truth: Dust mites are a fact of life.
They are absolutely everywhere. As such, it’s impossible to completely prevent dust mites from entering your home.
Now here’s the good news: just because dust mites get into your home, it doesn’t mean they have to stick around. There are things you can do to make your home very, very inhospitable for dust mites.
Even more good news? Many of the things you already did to get rid of dust mites are preventative as well, like:
- Lowering the humidity
- Using dust mite proof mattress covers
- Investing in a HEPA air purifier
- Regularly vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum
All of those steps not only get rid of existing dust mites but also prevent them from becoming a problem in your home.
But there are a couple other additional steps you can take as well:
Avoid carpet. If you can, one of the best things you can do for your dust mite allergies is to get rid of carpeting, especially wall-to-wall. Dust mites have a much harder time proliferating on wood, linoleum or tiled floors.
Choose the right carpet. If you must have carpeting, choose a short, tight pile over deep-pile carpets.
Wash all rugs in hot water. Any and all rugs and even bath mats that are machine washable should be laundered in hot water regularly.
And there you have it, the guide to get rid of dust mites and prevent them from calling your house a home. Now go forth and breathe easy.