They don’t bite you, they don’t spread disease, they don’t live on us, they simply co-exist.
You can’t see or hear them, but they’re there, lurking somewhere in your home.
These tiny creatures feed on dead skin, bacteria and fungi, pet dander and pollens, fouling the place numerous times a day, absorbing plenty of moisture and merrily making babies!
As repulsive as that sounds, the bad news is that regardless of how clean you keep your home, you cannot get rid of house dust mites.
Dust mites thrive in warm and humid conditions, taking up residence in your mattresses, pillows, bedding, soft furnishings and carpets, even new sheets in a matter of days, places where you spend most of your time.
House dust mite (HDM) feed off spores and transport them on their bodies, preferring Alternaria alternata, Cladosporium sphaerospermum, and Wallemia sebi as “tasty” moulds and Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus versicolor, and Stachybotrys chartarum as “repulsive” moulds according to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (1995).
Dust mites create and release strong digestive enzymes that some people and in particular children, are sensitive to. Once inhaled, airways become sensitive to the allergens and potentially cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny, stuffy nose, red, itchy, watery eyes, severe wheezing, shortness of breath, skin rashes and bring on asthma and eczema.
The current standard treatments for mite allergies include anti-histamine and steroid medications. But it’s important to realise that these types of drugs can cause side effects and are not long-term answers to the mite problem.
Find the Source
Dust mite elimination isn’t a realistic possibility and the good news is that you can significantly reduce the level of dust mite infestation in your home by addressing where they live. Most effective allergen avoidance requires a comprehensive approach, and individual steps alone are generally ineffective according to Platts-Mills et al. 2000.
- Replace old mattresses, pillows, doonas, encase in zippered dust mite proof encasings that have been tested to be effective.
- Improve ventilation and natural light by keeping beds unmade, doors and windows open and maintain indoor relative humidity between 40 and 55%.
- Install skylight if the room is too dark.
- Eliminating mites from bedding fabrics by regular washing,
- soaking them in hot water for at least 20 minutes
- or placing bedding in hot dryer.
- Exchange feather and wool doonas for doonas made of silk, cotton and / or polyester.
- Silk doonas, dust mites don’t like silk – Why not try one of these Dream Silks doonas.
- Encasing pillows, mattresses doonas in tested, totally zippered dust mite proof encasings – These are great dust mite protector options you might like to look at.
- See your practitioner for material sample in blue coloured brochure titled: “Welcome Relief for Asthma, Allergy and Eczema Sufferers”
Allerprotect Dust Mite Bed Set
Create a barrier between you and the dust mite allergens by enclosing the entire mattress, the entire pillow and the entire doona. Provides asthma and allergy relief by stopping the continual night time exposure to dust mite allergens while you sleep.
Washable pillows 100% cotton (designed by Mitey Fresh and manufactured in New Zealand) the Aller Protect Adjustable Pillow reduces exposure to dust mites whilst sleeping – Check out this fantastic pillow!
- Remove clutter and excessive soft furnishings and replace with appropriate hard surface furniture.
- Replace heavy drapes with lighter material blinds that can be washed.
- Check out this article why this is so important
- Remove or replace carpets with less plush fabrics. Dust mite populations will be higher in homes with completely carpeted floors, as opposed to those with hard or wooden floors since they don’t provide a suitable living environment for mites. If you or your family members are severely affected by mite allergies, then it may be necessary to remove the carpet completely and replace with washable rugs.
- Regular cleaning of surfaces use a slightly damp microfibre cloth, and HEPA filter vacuum with power head.
- In order to prevent exposure to dust mites, wear a P2 particulate filter mask or ask someone else to clean.
- Once implemented, check those affected by dust mite allergy symptoms to ensure the source has been reduced or eliminated.
So, while we can’t see mites, they are certainly there. When the weather allows it, keeping windows and doors open and allowing a flow of fresh air into your home may help decrease the number of mite allergens floating in the air.
Dust mite control can be challenging. Minimising dust mite allergen exposure is recommended by your practitioner, Building Biologists, major Australian (Asthma NSW) and International Asthma and Allergy Medical opinion leaders to provide significant relief from asthma and allergies.
Read about it here: How to Control Dust Mites
And Simple House Dust Mite Solutions for where you sleep and rest
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, Third Expert Panel on the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma.
Bethesda (MD): National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (US); 2007 Aug. (Online). Available: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/asthgdln.pdf [May 1, 2015]
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (1995). “Reduction of house dust mite allergens after dehumidifier use” (Online). Available: http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(95)70328-4/fulltext [24 May 2015].
World Health Organisation. (2009). WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality, Dampness and Mould. (Online). Available: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf [6 August, 2015]
Platts-Mills TA, Vaughan JW, Carter MC, Woodfolk JA. The role of intervention in established allergy: avoidance of indoor allergens in the treatment of chronic allergic disease. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000;106(5):787–804. (Online). Available: http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(00)39663-4/fulltext [July 17, 2015]
Naegele, A., Reboux, G., Scherer, E., Roussel, S. and Millon, L. (2013). Fungal food choices of Dermatophagoides farinaeaffect indoor fungi selection and dispersal. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 23(2), pp.91–95. (Online). Available: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09603123.2012.699029 [June 18,2020].