Alternative Bedding Options to Prevent Dust Mites
Have you been noticing an increase in allergy symptoms, asthma attacks and bronchial irritations in your home? You could be facing a dust mite infestation. These tiny members of the arachnid family enter our homes seeking warmth and take up residence, living off the sloughed off skin cells, tiny crumbs and other detritus that make up household dust. Because they're simple organisms without rudimentary digestive systems, they must pre-digest these particles by secreting special enzymes and fungi – it is these substances that are the real cause of dust mite allergens.
Getting rid of dust mites is nearly impossible, as they are small enough to evade threats like direct sunlight and the vacuum cleaner by burrowing deep into furniture and mattresses. Dust mites are most drawn to beds, given their preference for warm, humid environments and the constant source of skin cells we lose during the night. In fact, a traditional box spring mattress can harbor as many as 10 million dust mites. However, while you may not be able to get rid of them entirely, there are still several alternative bedding products you can purchase to help reduce the impact of dust mites in your home.
Traditional down and synthetic fiber pillows create the perfect habitat for dust mites, but there are other options. Wool fiber pillows naturally repel dust mites and are fire retardant, as a bonus. However, not all users find them as fluffy and comfortable as traditional pillows, so if they aren't for you, consider latex pillows as well. Latex pillows are anti-microbial and mildew proof, creating an inhospitable environment for dust mites.
Unfortunately, both natural wool and latex pillows can be significantly more expensive ($100-$150 each) than regular down and synthetic fiber pillows, and you may need to order them separately, as few home goods stores stock them regularly. If you aren't able to purchase one of these alternatives, you can reduce the number of dust mites in traditional pillows by allowing them to dry out regularly, or by placing them in a freezer for 24-48 hours to kill any existing dust mites living inside.
Mattress Pads & Comforters
As with the pillows, natural wool and latex mattress pads and comforters are available that naturally repel dust mites from your bedding. Mattress pads come in many different shapes and sizes, from 4" latex pillow-top add-ons to simple 1" wool pads that will help repel dust mites from traditional box spring mattresses. These pads can be costly though, so expect to pay at least $500-$1,000 depending on the specific product you purchase and the size of your bed.
If you aren't able to purchase pillows, mattress pads and comforters in fibers that naturally repel dust mites, you may be able to take advantage of a cheaper alternative – mattress covers. These covers are typically made of cotton and consist of tiny pores that are too small for dust mites to penetrate. Expect to spend anywhere from $30-100 on a set of mattress and pillow covers, depending on the size of your bed. These products can be ordered online through allergy sufferer websites if you aren't able to find them in a store near you.