Dust mites might be the one thing that we all have in common when it comes to mattress matters. They multiply easily in mattresses and bedding and can trigger allergies. However, eliminating them might not be as easy as they multiply.
This article focuses on sources of dust mites in the mattresses, how to get rid of them and how to prevent them. The steps demonstrated here are not just useful to people with dust mite allergy. Everyone should once in a while use them even if for hygiene purposes and general health because even sleeping on a clean mattress feels good.
What are dust mites or as some call them, bed mites?
Dust mites are tiny eight-legged bugs. To create a better picture, they are relatives of the spider, and you might never have seen one, and you will probably never see one because they are microscopic. They live in mattresses, bedding, curtains, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Thus, to get rid of them in your mattress, you must also get rid of them from any other place in your house to prevent a recurrent cycle.
Dust mites feed on human and other animals’ skin flakes that are shed daily, pet dander and dust materials. They best thrive in warm, humid environment. They will not attack you directly, but their effects are felt in several other unpleasant ways hence why people are always looking for ways to get rid of them. And, don’t be quick to dismiss their existence in your home simply because it is clean. Dust mites are found even in the cleanest homes as long as there are flakes of dead skin, dust or pet dander.
However, most people are not bothered and live happily alongside dust mites without even realizing their presence. But, if you suffer from dust mite allergy, you will do anything to get rid of them as they cause so many unpleasant symptoms.
Where do dust mites come from?
Dust mites occur naturally and will find their home in any residence. They are attracted to moist and warm areas of any home and will thus prefer your mattress because they will find not only a feeding zone but also a moist, humid area to breed. Dust mites do not bite. They will only eat the dead skin you shed and rely on your sweat for that moist environment.
Health effects of dust mites
The major problem with dust mites is that they excrete certain enzymes in their faeces and some people have allergic reactions to them. The reactions cause symptoms such as:
- Itchy, red eyes
- A runny or ‘bunged-up’ nose
- Worsened asthma
- Eczema symptoms
However, people who are not allergic to these enzymes will not have issues with dust mites as they do not burrow into the skin or bite. But, even if they don’t bother you, it is actually a good idea to periodically remove them in your mattress.
How Do You Get Rid of Dust Mites in Your Mattress?
Mattresses make a great place for dust mites to hide and thrive. Experts say that dust mites fully colonize a new mattress in just six months. And, this makes a lot of sense because people spend around a third of their lives in bed thus most flakes of skin are found on the mattresses, and any dust mite will be happy to be in such a mattress.
Again, dust mites breed very quickly, and most modern homes provide perfect conditions for them to thrive. And, experts also say that an average mattress is likely to have up to one million dust mites! Thus everyone should be working on how to get rid of them or at least reduce them.
Here are some of the most effective ways of getting rid of dust mites in your mattress:
#1 Use a barrier bedding to block them out/ anti-allergy mattress or mattress cover
Most people don’t know this, but there are special bedding cases for people with dust mite allergy. They are called dust mite covers or barrier cases, and they help a lot. They are available for mattresses, pillows, and duvets and are so densely woven making the fabric impenetrable by dust mites and their allergens.
Thus, with these cases or covers, you will create a physical barrier between yourself and any dust mites in your mattress, pillows or duvet thus starving the dust mites as nobody moisture or skin will reach their feeding zone. The covers give you a long-term mite protection thus reducing dust mite allergy symptoms.
However, when shopping for dust mite barrier cases, ensure that they are not treated with parricides or insecticides as such chemicals could trigger symptoms if you are chemically sensitive plus you don’t want to inhale such chemicals in your sleep.
#2 Keep pets out of your bed and bedroom
I know you love your pet and sharing a bed with them or just having them around your bedroom might feel like a good idea. However, if you suffer from dust mite allergy, keeping them out of your bedroom might be a great option as dust mites enjoy pet dander. If possible, limit your pet(s)’ indoor freedom to certain rooms and make them sleep in their rooms if possible.
#3 Baking soda and a vacuum
Baking soda and a vacuum are not only great for removing urine stains from mattresses but also make a great weapon when fighting dust mites. If your mattress has a fabric surface, just mix one cup of baking soda with a few drops of any essential oil then sprinkle the mixture on the mattress and let it sit for fifteen minutes. After this, come with a vacuum and vacuum up the baking soda off the mattress. In the process, all the dust mites are sucked up as well, which could be difficult without adding baking soda. Do this on either side of the mattress, and you will notice the difference especially if you have dust mite allergy.
However, this only works if your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter because it will be more effective in picking up and containing the dust mites. Other vacuums will only spread the dust mites further. And, the method will not work on a memory foam or latex core.
#4 Use a dust mite spray to denature the allergens
A mild allergen neutralizing treatment does reduce your exposure to allergens when properly sprayed on the mattress, carpets, pillows and any other soft furnishings. The spray will not kill the dust mites in your mattress, rather, it will denature them.
#5 Use dust mite controllers to scare them off
Sound waves are capable of scaring off the dust mites. High-frequency sound disrupts their feeding and reproductive cycles. With a dust mite controller, you just plug it in next to your bed, and they are very cost effective and do not require too much physical involvement on your side. Independent trials have shown that these controllers really to help in reducing the dust mite population thus alleviating allergy symptoms due to fewer allergens.
#6 Don’t make your bed immediately after waking up
There is a good excuse to why you should not make your bed first thing in the morning: by leaving the bed unmade, you will be airing your bed covers and duvet thus allowing the moisture you excreted from your body as you sleep to dry.
And, because dust mites love and thrive better in a moist environment, you will be making it hard for them to survive as the humidity in your bed will be reduced too.
#7 Use specialized bed vacuum
An ordinary vacuum might get the job done but not as effective because they are not powerful enough as a specialized bed vacuum. To get rid of dust mites and any other bacterial in your mattresses, invest in a handheld bed vacuum as they also have other features such as a powerful motor capable of removing dust mite fragments and UV light to destroy germs.
#8 Use a humidity monitor and keep the humidity low
Dust mites thrive better in conditions where the humidity is as high as 80%. Thus, if you have dust mite allergy, you might want to invest in a good humidity monitor to keep check of the humidity of your home, mostly the bedroom. If your home is too humid, you can invest in a dehumidifier and lower the humidity to about 35% thus making the conditions unfavorable for dust mites.
However, this is an expensive way of trying to control dust mites, and it does not give a really reliable solution plus it might make the living conditions uncomfortable for you so you should only use it in conjunction with other measures of fighting dust mites.
#9 Call a professional
If you have tried everything without success, you can call a professional specializing in mattress cleaning. However, this might be expensive thus should only be used as a last resort or in cases where the dust mite effects are extreme. Also, if the professional employs chemical methods to remove the dust mites, you might experience more irritation if you have allergies. You can, however, ask them to use non-chemical methods like ultraviolet light or steam cleaning though such methods offer just a temporally solution.
#10 The best option: invest in a dust mite resistant mattress and pillows
It seems like trying to get rid of dust mites in your mattress could be too much work in the long run especially for people with dust mite allergy. Thus, to have it easy, you can invest in a natural latex mattress as it is the only mattress that’s naturally resistant to dust mites as it is made from the sap of the rubber tree making the mattress an inhospitable environment for dust mites. You will thus enjoy a year-round relief especially if you have dust mite allergies. Also, these mattresses are more hygienic, and they are more comfortable with a long lifespan. They are also very luxurious, so they are worth investing in.
And, as you invest in a natural latex mattress, remember to include the pillows, as well as this, is where your head will be resting and if the mattress will dust mite resistant but the pillows are not, you will still be affected by the dust mites.
How to prevent Dust Mites
- Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to maintain relative humidity at around 50% or below. This ensures that the environment is not conducive for them to thrive.
- Use allergen-proof bed covers. Keep your mattress and pillows in dustproof or allergen-blocking covers. This limits the hiding and breeding spaces for the dust mites and every time you wash the covers you get rid of a good number of them.
- Always wash your blankets and bedding once every week in hot water to kill the existing dust mites. If you have non-washable bedding, just freeze them overnight to kill dust mites as they only survive in a warm and humid environment.
- Replace feathered or wool bedding with synthetic materials.
- Fabric curtains in bedrooms are another hiding place for dust mites. If possible, avoid fabric curtains in your bedrooms. Also, carpets in bedrooms encourage the multiplication of dust mites so you should consider replacing any wall-to-wall carpets in your bedroom with bare floors, say tile, wood or linoleum and also remove upholstered furniture. Also, if your pillows are filled with feathers or kapok, you should consider replacing them with ones filled with polyester fibers.
- Using a dry cloth to remove dust will just stir up dust mite allergens. Instead, use a damp rag or mop and remove the dust.
- Another way to prevent dust mites in your mattress is to move bedrooms if yours is in a basement that has a concrete floor. You can move upstairs as concrete stays damp creating the moist, humid environment thus giving the dust mites a perfect environment to thrive in.
- Again, as I mentioned above, you cannot get rid of or prevent dust mites in your mattress if you are not taking the same measures in the other places around the house. So, ensure that any bare floors are cleaned often using a damp cloth or mop. Always vacuum carpets once/twice a week and wash your throw rugs in hot water.
The thought of sharing a bed with several millions of these tiny creatures is not pleasing. But, we can get rid of them by following the above tips and especially for people suffering from dust mite allergy as the trips to the hospitals might not add any value to your health if your bed is the source of the problem.