Home » How to Kill Dust Mites (And Why Killing Dust Mites Isn’t Enough)

How to Kill Dust Mites (And Why Killing Dust Mites Isn’t Enough)

“There are bugs living in my house? Kill them! Kill them with fire!” Wanting to know how to kill dust mites immediately is an understandable reaction.

No one wants their home to become a breeding ground for tiny creatures that were never invited in. And in the case of dust mites, the harm they can cause is out of all proportion with their microscopic size.

This goes double if you suffer from allergies. Dust mites can significantly worsen your symptoms and even cause asthma.

So it goes without saying – dust mites have got to go. And we’re going to show you exactly what kills dust mites. Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • How do you know if you have dust mites?
  • Is killing dust mites enough?

Let’s start with some things you must know about dust mites.

How Do You Know If You Have Dust Mites?

Here’s the unfortunate truth: You probably have dust mites. In fact, according to this study, most US homes have detectable levels of dust mite allergens in at least one bed.

So how do you know if you are one of the many people living with dust mites?

You won’t be able to see them. You won’t even have any dust mite bites. The biggest and often only clue is that you’re experiencing allergic symptoms in your home.

Symptoms like sneezing, coughing, runny nose, postnasal drip, itchy or watery eyes can be a strong indication that you have dust mites in your home and you can allergic to them. If you want to make sure, you can diagnose a dust mite allergy by asking your doctor for a skin or blood test.

But if you’ve been constantly suffering from allergy symptoms in your home, it’s likely that you do have a dust mite allergy.

A dust mite allergy simply means that your body reacts to the proteins found in the body parts and waste products of dust mites.

What Do Dust Mites Do?

When they’re not eating dead skin, dust mites don’t do a whole lot. Basically, they eat, breed, and poop. And as unpleasant as that diet is, it’s the pooping that really makes them a problem.

These waste products of dust mites are hugely responsible for triggering allergic reactions.

In fact, it’s estimated that around 500 million people worldwide are affected. They have an especially harmful effect on those with asthma.

So the only thing left to do is to kill some dust mites. But before you send for the attack dragons, it’s important to understand that merely killing dust mites won’t solve your problem.

Is Killing Dust Mites Enough?

Here’s the unsettling truth: killing dust mites might satisfy your bloodlust but it’s not enough to solve the dust mite problem.

Dust mites produce allergens in the form of the proteins they release when they poop, and also in the skins that they shed.

You could kill every dust mite in the world, but the allergens would still be present in the shed skins and, again, poop.

So, unfortunately, you may need to resist your homicidal urges.

Or at least direct them in a more productive way. I’m not saying don’t kill these mites. These disgusting scavengers have to go.

But we’ll need a more sophisticated approach if you want to solve the actual problem. That means not only killing dust mites but removing the allergens they produce.

>>>How to Get Rid of Dust Mites: 9 Most Effective Methods

Let’s go over some of the most commonly asked questions about killing dust mites and whether they work or not. Then, we’re going to show you the most effective ways to kill dust mites – and remove the evidence.

What Kills Dust Mites?

Even the most rabid animal rights activist probably wouldn’t object to you killing dust mites. After all, these creatures are literally everywhere. And they can cause significant discomfort to those who are allergic.

The good news is that it’s not hard to kill dust mites. These critters are tiny, defenseless and easy to kill dead.

Here are some of the most common questions about killing dust mites.

Does UV light kill dust mites?

UV light has been shown to kill dust mites. In fact, it damages the dust mites’ DNA and RNA and even reduces their ability to breed.

But before you go grab the nearest UV lamp you have access to, keep in mind that it’s only UV-C light that has this germicidal effect.

On top of that, to get 100% dust mite mortality, the UV-C light had to be maintained at a distance of 10 centimeters and sustained for a full 60 minutes. If you have the tools and means to do that, then great – you can use UV light to kill dust mites.

But I’m guessing most of us don’t. And that’s okay, because there are much better ways to kill dust mites.

Does sunlight kill dust mites?

You never find dust mites on the beach. These creatures try to stay out of the sun wherever possible since it causes them to dry out. So many people try to use this to their advantage by putting furniture and rugs into the sun on hot days.

So does it work? Yes, direct sunlight will indeed kill dust mites over time. But it doesn’t remove the allergens they leave behind. As long as dust mite feces and bodies are around, you’ll still be suffering from dust mite allergies.

Does freezing kill dust mites?

Freezing kills most pests. So for items that you don’t want to wash or steam, many people advise freezing these items overnight. But does it work?

Yes. Placing items in the freezer will kill dust mites. One study found that freezing dust mite infested items in a home freezer at −15°C for 48 hours was sufficient to kill both house dust mites and their eggs.

But like with sunlight, freezing will only do half the job. The cold will kill dust mites, but it won’t remove the allergens. Which means you may have dead dust mites but you’ll still be sneezing, sniffly and miserable.

Does boric acid kill dust mites?

What works on one pest doesn’t always work on another. Boron and boric acid are often used as insecticides against larger pests. Ants, for instance.

But although they are sometimes marketed for use against mites, they’re not particularly effective. Dust mites love humidity, and sprinkling boron on your carpet or other areas will dry up any moisture and kill the bugs.

But again, you’ll just be left with a bunch of dead bugs that can still trigger allergies. Thanks a lot, boron.

Does alcohol kill dust mites?

Alcohol is very often recommended as a cheap and cheerful way to kill dust mites. But does it work?

There is not a lot of research on whether alcohol kills dust mites, but one study found that an alcohol-based mite shampoo showed no results compared to a placebo shampoo.

Even more discouragingly, even if alcohol did kill dust mites, it wouldn’t do anything to de-neutralize the allergens caused by dust mites and their waste products.

Does vinegar kill dust mites?

Vinegar, particularly white vinegar, may help to kill dust mites thanks to its high concentration of acetic acid. But there are currently no studies attesting to its effectiveness in killing dust mites.

And again, there is nothing to suggest that vinegar will get rid of the allergens produced by dust mites. Overall, there are far more effective – and less stinky – home remedies to get rid of dust mites.

Does Lysol kill dust mites?

If it kills germs, it probably kills dust mites too, right? True. Disinfectants such as Lysol will kill dust mites on contact. However, that’s not going to help you.

The dead bodies you leave in your wake can still emit the proteins that cause allergies.

You’ll need to remove the dead mites, along with their droppings and shed skins, before you see any difference in your allergic reaction. And if you’re going to go to the trouble of spraying Lysol everywhere, you may as well spray something that actually reduces the allergens, such as one of the best anti-allergen sprays.

Does Febreze kill dust mites?

Febreze is probably one of the most common household products. Look around – you most likely have a bottle or two hanging around somewhere.

But does Febreze kill dust mites? It does.

The active ingredient in Febreze is a chemical compound called hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin (HPβCD). This mouthful of a molecule works by literally trapping and binding odor particles.

The cyclodextrin component also makes an effective dust mite controller that can kill and help repel dust mites. The only downside? You guessed it – Febreze doesn’t actually neutralize the allergens. You’ll need an anti-allergen spray for that.

Does baking soda kill dust mites?

Baking soda is often recommended as a way to kill dust mites. The claim is that it serves a dehumidifying function, helping to soak up excess moisture and thus removing the dampness and humidity that dust mites like so much.

The only problem is that baking soda is not quite hygroscopic enough. Sure, it can take and hold moisture from its surroundings but not enough to have much of an effect on dust mite infestations.

Overall, there are much better solutions. Skip this one.

Because the dust mites are so tiny, it’s very easy for their droppings and the fragments of their exoskeletons that carry the allergens to pass through the air filter of an ordinary vacuum. You need a screen that can catch particulates as small as 0.3 microns in size. That’s very, very small.

Does the dryer kill dust mites?

You have one of the best tools for killing dust mites right in your home. The humble dryer can indeed kill dust mites on anything you can fit into it.

Bedding, clothing, stuffed animals – anything you can run at 130 degrees for at least 15 minutes is all fair game.

Of course, doing the wash first helps you remove any dust mite allergens as well. So simply doing the laundry is one of the smartest ways to kill dust mites and remove the pesky allergens they produce.

Does steam kill dust mites?

Steam is an incredibly effective way to kill dust mites. One study found that steam cleaning carpet was enough to completely kill the dust mites present in it.

It’s also natural and completely non-toxic. Plus, you can use it to kill dust mites on pretty much everything you own, even the things that can’t be thrown in the dryer.

Investing in a good steam cleaner can also be cheaper than a professional steam cleaning or even borrowing a steam cleaner a couple times. We recommend the McCulloch Steam Cleaner as it is affordably priced and produces steam that’s more than hot enough to kill dust mites and their eggs.

Do essential oils for dust mites work?

If you’re looking for the most natural way to kill dust mites, you can use essential oils to make your own dust mite spray. Oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, and clove have been found to be effective dust mite killers.

You can use essential oils to make your own dust mite spray by diluting the oil at a ratio of 10 mL of oil to 5 L of water. Spray this mixture around the house, paying special attention to the bed and upholstered furniture, but don’t neglect shelves, TV stands, countertops, and anywhere else dust can collect.

You can also use essential oils as an add-in with your laundry to help kill mites and destroy the allergens they produce.

How to Kill Dust Mites (And Remove The Evidence)

This bears repeating for emphasis: Killing dust mites isn’t going to solve a dust mite problem.

You must focus not on murder but also removing the allergens that cause a reaction in your body. Often, this comes down to physically removing it, which can be difficult when you’re talking about something that’s invisible.

So what works for both killing and removing dust mites?

Vacuum Regularly

Your trusty vacuum cleaner can be one of the best tools in your fight against dust mites. This easy home remedy for dust mites helps you kill and remove the actual allergens like dust mites and their eggs and feces. And it also sucks up dead skin cells, removing a crucial food source for these pests.

But not any vacuum will do.

To ensure you’re getting maximum dust mite sucking power, make sure you opt for a dust mite vacuum with a HEPA filter. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter will prevent the allergens from re-entering the air of your home.

HEPA Air Purifier

Your dust mite vacuum may have a HEPA filter but who wants to vacuum all the time? Not you.

Which is why one of the best investments you can make if you have a dust mite allergy is a HEPA air purifier.

These handy units let you sit back while they do the dust mite-busting heavy lifting, capturing around 99.97% of airborne pollutants like dust mites, but also other allergens such as pet dander and pollen.

It’s like having a permanent filter in your house at all times, silently cleaning the air of dust mites while you sleep and relax.

Dust Mite Killer Sprays

Here’s the one good thing about dust mites: you don’t need to resort to pesticides in order to get rid of them. In fact, we recommend you don’t.

Natural solutions are often the most effective way to deal with dust mites. And this goes double when it comes to dust mite killer sprays.

The best dust mite sprays don’t have pesticides. Instead, these anti-allergen sprays contain alkaline substances or enzymes that break down the proteins in the bodies and feces of dust mites.

That makes them far superior to any traditional bug sprays since they not only kill dust mites but they also remove them completely.

Cover Up

One of the most effective yet simplest things you can do to both kill dust mites and remove them from your environment is to cover up your mattress and pillows.

But not just any old covering will work – you want to invest in the best dust mite mattress covers. These are made of specialized materials with pores that are small enough to keep dust mites and the allergens they produce from escaping.

The result? No more allergies in bed. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing the dust mites trapped in your mattress are dying a slow death from starvation.

Get some. Seal up your mattress and your pillows. And immediately breathe easier.

Lower Humidity

Last but not least, here’s a solution that not only kills dust mites but does it so effectively that it can single-handedly prevent a dust mite infestation.

Dust mites require relative humidity above 50% to survive. Reducing the humidity in your home will make it much less hospitable for these creatures. Lower the humidity enough and your home will become outright fatal for dust mites.

If you suffer from allergies, getting a dehumidifier for dust mites is one of the smartest things you can do. It ensures that even if dust mites find their way into your home, they will quickly die out before they can become a problem.

Not sure what the humidity levels are in your home? A great way to find out is to get yourself a hygrometer. They’re cheap and make it easy for your to monitor how friendly your home is for dust mites.

Where Do Dust Mites Live?

Now that you know exactly how to kill dust mites, you’re eager to get the massacre started. But first, you must know where to find these pesky, allergen-causing arachnids.

Dust mites can live almost anywhere in a home. However, they need a particular environment to thrive. Because they are so small, an average home can provide microclimates that make conditions for dust mites ideal.

So what does a dust mite look for when shopping for new housing?

First things first, these mites like high humidity – 70% or more. They also prefer climates that are between 68°F to 77°F (around 20°C to 25°C). And of course, they need access to plentiful food – i.e. you.

More specifically, dust mites don’t bite or live off our blood. Instead, the dust mite’s favorite food is the dead skin cells we shed throughout the day.

And we shed a lot. It’s estimated that just one adult can shed 1.5 grams of dead skin cells per day! To put that into context, that’s enough for up to one million dust mites to feast on.

But as you may imagine, there are parts of the house that are more likely to have concentrated amounts of this delicious human dander that dust mites crave. Places where people spend a lot of time and shed a lot of skin.

I’m sure you can think of some of these spots like…

  • Bedding
  • Mattresses
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Carpets
  • Rugs
  • Stuffed animals
  • Curtains

The more dead skin gets accumulated in a place, the more dust mites will like to live in it. For example, the bed is a popular spot. A typical mattress can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside it. That should help you get a good night’s rest tonight.

How to Check for Dust Mites

You already know that one of the first clues of dust mites is the allergic symptoms you’ll experience from living with these pests.

But if you want to know for certain whether you’re sharing your home with these creatures, you can inspect for dust mites.

To do this, you’re going to need some equipment. To see dust mites, you’ll need something that can give you a minimum of 10 times magnification. So a dollar store magnifying glass probably won’t do the trick.

Instead, you may need a microscope. Even a relatively cheap toy model might do the trick. But the better the magnification you can get, the higher the chances of seeing one of these elusive creatures. Aim for at least 10x. 100x is even better.

Next, you’ll need to gather some dust. And I don’t mean by sitting very still for an extended period.

Take a sample of dust from around your home – focus on the areas where dust mites like to live. Use some sticky tape to collect dust from various areas of the house. Be sure to take some from the bedroom, including on your pillows and bedclothes. You can also take some from the living room, bedroom, or anywhere else you find it.

Place the strips of dusty tape under your microscope and see what you find. Does it look like a dust mite?

>>>What Do Dust Mites Look Like? Dust Mite Pictures and FAQs

Unfortunately, chances are very good that you will see a dust mite. Again, the vast majority of homes, if not all of them, have at least some of these creatures.

The Final Word on Killing Dust Mites

As you can see, dust mite control is very different from other kinds of pest control. For most other pests, it’s a simple matter of killing them all.

But with dust mites, killing doesn’t solve the problem. You must remove the actual allergens.

This is why we don’t recommend wasting your time, money, and energy on things like pesticides or vinegar sprays.

Rather, more comprehensive approaches like vacuuming and air purifiers will help to clean the air you breathe and remove dust mite particles. So focus on these methods instead of merely killing the bugs. It’s the only way to breathe easy, whether these unwanted roommates bugger off or not.

And with that dirty truth ends this article. Go forth and put your dust mite knowledge to good use.

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