Controlling Dust Mites

House dust is a mixture of many things. There are two kinds of dust, organic dust and inorganic dust that make up house dust. Organic components contain dust mites, insect debris, animal dander, bacteria, mold and fungus spores, food particles and human skin flakes. Inorganic components contain fabric fibers, roadway dust, etc. The most important allergens in house dust are dust mites and pet dander. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that cannot be seen. They live in places that collect dust. Pillows, mattresses and carpets usually have thousands of dust mites living in them. They thrive in humid and warm conditions. Their diet consists of human skin scales, which we shed everyday.

House dust cannot be eliminated, but can be reduced by controlling the source. Here are some ways to reduce dust exposure in you home:

  • Encase pillows, mattresses, box springs and comforters in mite-proof encasings. They are made of impermeable fabric. Once in place, the encasings do not need to be washed.
  • Wash all your linens and covers weekly in the hot cycle (130°F) and dry for 30 minutes on high heat to kill dust mites. Blankets should be encased or washed as well.
  • Vacuum carpets at least once a week. Wear a dust mask when cleaning. Use a high quality vacuum cleaner that uses a HEPA filter.
  • Clutter in the bedroom must be avoided, especially under the bed and closets. Eliminate dust collector such as upholstered furniture, decorative pillows, heavy draperies and fabric wall coverings. Limit the number of stuffed or soft toys and wash or freeze overnight every two weeks.
  • House dust is stirred by air blowing from heating/air-conditioning vents. Maintain your heating and air conditioning system regularly. Change filters once a month and clean permanent filters at least every 3 months. Unless your ventilation system is very dirty from neglect or age, air ducts is not necessary.
  • Remove carpeting, especially in bedrooms. Throw rugs should be washable.
  • Dust frequently with a damp or oiled cloth.
  • Keep houseplants out of the bedroom and limit the number of plants you have inside the house.
  • Wash curtains once a month.
  • Keep ceiling fans off. They can stir up dust, which may cause higher amounts of dust mites to become airborne.
  • Avoid lying or sleeping on upholstered furniture.
  • Clean uncarpeted floors with a wet mop every week.
  • Reduce indoor humidity to 50% or lower.