How to Reduce the Dust Mite Population in Your Home
The very words "dust mites" conjures up fear these days. Many of us are aware that
their presence is associated with reduced respiratory health and can trigger asthma and
other respiratory or allergic related attacks. In some countries, such as New Zealand,
70 - 80 percent of asthma is linked to dust mite allergies. Reducing the population in your
home is an important task to help protect your family's health.
1. Understand the dust mite's behaviour. Dust mites need you. They eat your dead skin
flakes or scales and other dead pests. They love humid environments, so using a humidifier
in your home will create a more attractive environment for them. It is the feces produced
by dust mites and dead dust mites that causes the allergic reaction; particles so small
that they float into the air very easily and are breathed in without our knowing.
2. Change the bed regularly. Most of your dead skin build-up occurs in your bed because
that is the one place where you spend the most time.
3. Add a bedding allergen barrier. There are commercial products available that can
help you to reduce the ability of allergens to float from the bedding into the air. Ask at
specialist Asthma societies or bedding stores for precise information on what to purchase.
4. Wash bedding at a minimum of 55ºC/131ºF or higher. The high water temperature will
kill the dust mites. It is not possible to rely on detergent alone.Although this is
not essential, it is preferable. If you prefer cold washes, dry in direct sunlight and
wash bedding frequently.
5. Vacuum couches, mattresses and armchairs. These are places on which people spend a
lot of time. Clean them regularly. Try not to sleep on your couch; it increases the problem.
6. Steam clean. Make steam cleaning of carpet a regular occurrence. Dust mites cannot
survive a steam cleaning.
7. Keep the house pest free. Since dust mites feed off dead pests, it makes sense to
ensure that these are not lying around your house either. Keep the cockroach, moth,
silverfish, ant, flea etc. populations under control.
8. Toss the stuffed toys. Reduce your child's stuffed toy population to just one or two
in order to remove homes for the dust mite population. Either keep them out of the
bedroom, or remove them completely. For those that you do keep, put them in the freezer
for 24 hours to kill the dust mites residing on them. This should be repeated on a
three weekly basis.