12 Guaranteed Ways to Get Rid of Dust Mites in Your House
Dust mites are the scourge of allergy sufferers everywhere. They are microscopic insects, not detectable to the human eye, that feed on human and animal skin shedding. They breed prolifically, and there are literally millions of them living and feeding inside fabrics in your home, such as your bed, carpets, soft furnishings, clothes, and anywhere where dust tends to accumulate. Over the course of its life, a dust mite can produce up to 200 times its own body weight in waste produce. These droppings can trigger a range of health problems and allergic reactions, such as breathing difficulties, coughing, nasal congestion, itching, and watery eyes. These problems can also have a detrimental effect on your sleep, causing you to wake up several times during the night.
Although completely eliminating dust mites from your home is impossible, there are several precautions you can take to drastically reduce their numbers and neutralize their threat. Let's take a look at 12 of the most effective and natural ways to get rid of dust mites in your house using things you already have in your home.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites
- Lower the temperature and humidity level
- Remove dust by wiping and vacuuming
- Wash fabrics in hot water at a minimum of 130°F (54°C)
- Steam clean carpets, rugs, and furniture
- Freeze items of clothing and stuffed animals
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) on beds and carpeting
- Use a tea tree oil/eucalyptus spray
- Use a hypoallergenic mattress and pillow or an anti-allergy protector
- Replace carpets with hard flooring
- Don't make your bed in the morning
- Get rid of curtains, cushions, and soft furnishings
- Keep pets out of the bedroom
1. Lower the Temperature and Humidity Level
Ideal Temperature to Reduce Dust Mites
Dust mites love living in an environment where the temperature is between 75°F and 80°F (24°C and 27°C) and the relative humidity is around 70% to 80%. Anything outside this range won't necessarily kill them but will push them outside their comfort zone and slow down their breeding.
Set the temperature inside your house to no higher than 70°F (21°C). This is considered a normal and healthy environment for a human, but is very slightly below optimal for a house dust mite. If you can comfortably live at a few degrees below this temperature, you'll not only save money on heating costs, but you'll make life tougher for dust mites as well.
Ideal Humidity Level for Reducing Dust Mites
Dust mites live comfortably in a temperature similar to humans, but they actually prefer a higher humidity. Anything lower than 70% relative humidity reduces their reproductive rate, so try to keep the relative humidity in your bedroom and home to less than 50%.
You can test humidity in the home with an electronic humidity monitor. If you find that relative humidity levels are greater than 50%, try to get air circulating through your house by using vents and fans and by frequently opening windows. If this doesn't work, or if it is too inconvenient, it's also possible to control humidity with air conditioning units and dehumidifiers.
2. Clean and Remove Dust Regularly
If it isn't already obvious, dust mites dwell and feed on dust, which is made of dead skin cells. With the average human shedding enough dead skin each and every day to feed one million of these pesky critters, maintaining a frequent cleaning schedule is vital.
Wipe Down Dusty Areas
Make a note of all the places in your home where dust tends to accumulate and wipe these areas several times a week with a damp cloth or a microfiber duster. Make sure you are picking up the dust rather than just sweeping it off with a feather duster. You don't want the dust flying about the room and collecting in your carpets. By wiping down dusty cabinets and countertops, you can dispose of the dust by either washing away the cloth or shaking it out in a trash can outside.
Vacuum Rugs, Carpets, and Fabric Furniture
To actually capture dust, dander, and other airborne allergens, you must use a vacuum with a sealed HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and it works by trapping small particles in the fine mesh, including pollen, dust, and even tobacco smoke! Regular vacuums will only suck up big pieces of dust, but may send tiny microscopic particles flying right back out into the air. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "HEPA filters can capture more than 99% of particles that are at least 0.3 microns in size and prevent them from being released back into the air." If you suffer from dust allergies, wear a dust mask and open the windows when you vacuum, or ask someone else to do it.
3. Kill Dust Mites by Washing Fabrics in Hot Water
Fortunately, dust mites don't take too kindly to hot temperatures. Put your bed sheets, pillows cases, clothes, curtains, drapes, and other washable fabrics through a wash setting between 130° and 140°F (54° to 60°C) in order to kill them and remove their fecal matter and skin particles. Use a similar heat setting in the dryer, and let the cycle run until everything is fully dry. The heat from the dryer should take care of any mites that survived the wash. Try to do this on a weekly basis to keep the dust mite population to a minimum.
Note: Wash your bedding every week because a warm, dark, and humid bed is the perfect habitat for dust mites to prosper. Additionally, the flakes of dead skin that humans shed during the night become ideal food sources for these little pests. It's not a pretty thought.
Wool and silk fabrics are inhospitable to dust mites.
4. Use a Steam Cleaner on Your Couch, Bed, and Carpeting
Steam cleaners are a great way to clean items and objects that aren't suitable for a washing machine. Most steam cleaners reach a temperature of 200° to 250° F (93° to 121° C). This is even hotter than the temperatures on washing machines and dryers.
Use a steam cleaner on carpets, curtains, cushions, kitchen/bathroom surfaces, and other hard-to-reach places. The steam not only kills dust mites, but it also disinfects by killing bacteria and mold spores. Remember that while the steam can kill 100% of dust mites, their droppings and dead bodies are what actually causes allergies, so after steaming, go over everything again with a vacuum.
5. Kill Dust Mites by Freezing Them
Dust mites can't survive hot temperatures, and luckily, they can't survive the extreme cold either. For more delicate fabrics or items that can't be washed, such as stuffed animals, silk, or lace, put them in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer for 24 hours. This will kill every single dust mite, but it won't get rid of the allergen caused by their droppings, so be sure to take the items outside and vigorously shake them out.
6. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE) on Beds, Furniture, and Carpets
Diatomaceous earth is a natural fine powder made from silica rock. DE literally pierces the exoskeleton of dust mites as they crawl through it, killing them instantly. The effect that diatomaceous earth has on dust mites is similar to them being grounded in a blender.
Sprinkle DE anywhere you think dust mites might reside, such as beds, pet beds, carpets, furniture, upholstery, etc. Leave the power there for as long as possible to allow all the dust mites to crawl through and die. Then vacuum it up with a vacuum that doesn't have a filter because the powder can clog the filter.
DE is perfectly safe for both humans and pets. It can also kill fleas and bed bugs! Use it as frequently as you need to to control the dust mite population and prevent breeding.
7. Use a Tea Tree Oil and Eucalyptus Spray
Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal oil that many homeowners as well as beauty gurus swear by for killing everything from acne bacteria and foot fungi to mold and mildew. It gets rid of dust mites and also disinfects and prevents viruses and fungi.
Mix two cups of distilled water with two tablespoons of tea tree oil and two tablespoons of eucalyptus oil (which repels most bugs, including dust mites). Pour the concoction into a dark spray bottle to prevent light from rendering the oils ineffective. Spray liberally on your bed, pillows, and furniture.
8. Use a Hypoallergenic Mattress and Pillow or an Anti-Allergy Protective Cover
Estimates as to how many dust mites actually live in an average mattress vary wildly, from 10,000 to over a million. Whatever the exact figure, one thing is certain: even the cleanest of mattresses are teeming with these microscopic vermin.
Sadly, it just isn't possible to make a mattress completely dust mite free. But a hypoallergenic mattress and pillow and/or a protective cover greatly reduces dust mites. Hypoallergenic bedding material uses tightly woven fabric that makes it nearly impossible for mites to penetrate through. The impermeable material also prevents moisture and dead skin from entering your pillows and mattress, which prevents dust mites from living and breeding in your bed.
Anti-allergen covers and protectors are cheaper than hypoallergenic mattresses and pillows, and in similar ways, act as an impenetrable barrier to prevent dust mites from burrowing and to keep your body moisture and skin from entering the mattress. Likewise, if there are dust mites or other allergens present, the mattress protector stops them from infiltrating your sleeping zone.
9. Replace Carpets With Hard Flooring
Like beds and soft furnishings, carpets are a paradise for dust mites. Carpets trap dead skin and pet dander that the mites feed on. Hard flooring, on the hand, eliminates their most fertile breeding ground.
If you can afford to do it, rip up the carpets in your bedroom—or ideally, throughout the whole house—and replace them with hard flooring, such as linoleum, laminate, or tile.
If getting rid of your carpets is impractical or too costly, try to vacuum regularly—at least two or three times each week. You can also purchase carpet sprays and treatments that get rid of dust mites and other carpet allergens, but in the long term, it might actually be cheaper to install some hard flooring and throw your mite-infested carpets in the trash.
10. Don't Make Your Bed in the Morning
Here's some great news for anyone who hates making their bed first thing in the morning: don't bother! Instead, give your duvet and bed cover a good airing. This allows the moisture that was excreted from our bodies during the night time to dry.
Dust mites love moisture because they can't drink water in the normal sense, so instead, they absorb it through the air. By reducing moisture and humidity within the bed, you make life very difficult for them.
11. Get Rid of Curtains, Cushions, and Soft Furnishings
Curtains and soft furnishings are a dust mite's paradise. Fabric traps the dust and moisture, which they feed on, and shields them from potential threats. Each time you drag open the curtains or sit down on a fabric couch, dust mite debris is discharged into the air. Get tough with dust mites by:
- Replacing curtains with easy-to-clean blinds.
- Throwing away fabric cushions or exchanging them for leather/artificial leather cushions.
- Trading fabric couches and arm chairs for leather/artificial leather versions.
If you don't want to part with your soft furnishings, then you'll need a steam cleaner. Cuddly toys are another dust mite trap. Short of triggering a tantrum in your child, try to reduce cuddly toys on display in your house. If that beloved teddy bear really has to stay, give it a regular airing. Every so often, stick it in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 24 hours. This will kill the dust mites.
12. Keep Pets Out of the Bedroom
Dust mites love pet dander, so keep them out of your bedroom and off your bed, if possible. Remember to bathe and groom your pets regularly. If you have a breed that sheds profusely, vacuum more often and clean their bedding once a week. Keep in mind that dogs and cats can also suffer from dust mite allergies, so reduce their discomfort by keeping their area clean and dust-free.
Can Dust Mites Bite You?
Unlike bed bugs, dust mites do not bite humans. They feed on dead human skin that has shed and become dust, hence their name. Some people develop mild to severe reactions to dust mites and their droppings, so a rash may form, but this rash is not a bite mark.
Should I Use Lysol or Natural Home Remedies to Eliminate Dust Mites?
Lysol can kill 99% of dust mites, however, the dead carcasses and droppings of dust mites is what causes allergens. Killing them will not be enough; you must also vacuum the area or shake out the bedding to remove them after you have killed them. While Lysol is effective, natural home remedies, such as using extreme hot and cold temperatures or using diatomaceous earth or tea tree oil is safer than store-bought sprays, much cheaper, and just as effective.
How to Prevent Dust Mites
- Regularly clean and vacuum the house. Cut down on clutter, and don't give dust a chance to collect.
- Regularly clean your vents to prevent allergens from spreading around the house.
- Wash bedding every week using high temperatures of at least 130°F (54°C).
- If you have house plants, don't overwater them. Clean up dead leaves on top of the soil.
- Use hypoallergenic bed and pillow covers, which are impenetrable to dust mites.
- Open windows regularly to lower humidity levels in the house.
- Replace carpets, curtains, and soft furnishing with hard flooring, blinds, and leather or pleather furniture.