Using Latex Mattresses to Prevent Dust Mites
Dust mites aren't just gross; they're also one of the leading household causes of bronchial asthma and other chronic respiratory irritations. Technically, though, it isn't the dust mite itself that triggers these conditions, it's actually their feces and the partially-digested dust particles they leave in their wake. Dust mites themselves are relatively simple organisms that lack a traditional stomach and digestive tract. Consequently, they pre-digest the organic skin cells they feed on by excreting a combination of enzymes and fungi to break down their food. It is these enzymes and fungi that trigger asthma and bronchial ailments.
Unfortunately, getting rid of dust mites entirely is impossible. Dust mites are drawn to the warm, moist atmospheres of most households, and the skin cells we constantly shed look like an all-you-can-eat buffet to these tiny creatures. When they aren't feasting on the dust and organic waste around our houses, they're burrowing down in our furniture where they can safely evade threats like vacuums or direct sunlight.
Mattresses are one of the dust mites' favorite hangouts for a number of reasons. Dust mites prefer environments with at least 50% humidity, and mattresses retain this moisture from all the sweating and breathing you do at night. Because mattresses are typically covered with sheets and comforters when not in use, the moisture has no way to escape, creating the perfect safe haven for dust mites. In addition, the skin cells we shed during the night ensure that the dust mites never have to leave the shelter of the mattress in search of food.
Now while it isn't true that your mattress will double in weight over time due to the addition of dust mites and their feces, according to the old wives tale, it is possible that as many as 10 million dust mites have taken up residence in your bed. Getting rid of them is impossible, as they're able to burrow deep enough to evade even the strongest of vacuum cleaners. However, you can reduce the number of mites living in your mattress by frequently washing all of your bedding in order to remove any skin cells you shed during the night. Allowing the mattress to air out occasionally will also make the atmosphere less hospitable to dust mite inhabitants.
However, if these methods alone aren't enough to alleviate any respiratory symptoms you're experiencing, you may want to consider purchasing a latex mattress. Latex mattresses are naturally hypo-allergenic and resistant to microbes, mold and fungus. These mattresses are gaining in popularity, as are memory foam mattresses, which also provide some relief from dust mite allergens. In most cases, these two types of mattresses are available for similar prices as box spring mattresses. However, they do tend to sleep differently than traditional mattresses, so it's a good idea to try one out in person before you make the commitment to purchasing one. In addition, the quality of foam and latex mattresses varies, so be sure to order from a reputable company that guarantees their products and materials.