Protecting Your Home From Dust Mites
Dust mites are an inevitable consequence of civilized lives – no matter what we do, they'll always be attracted to the warm comfort of our homes and the veritable buffet of dead skin cells and dust particles we leave lying around. However, this doesn't mean that you need to resign yourself to a life of dust mite infestation. There are a few simple steps you can take to minimize their impact on your life.
Dust mite allergens
Controlling the number of dust mites in your home is extremely important, as many people are allergic to them or find their asthma triggered by their presence. In fact, it's the dust mite's feces that set off these reactions. Since dust mites lack stomachs, most of their digestive work occurs outside of the body, using enzymes and fungus that are secreted onto dust particles before they're eaten. It is these enzymes and fungus that we react to when we say we're allergic to dust mites.
Protecting your home
If you fear that you're home has been taken over by dust mites, start off with a good thorough cleaning. Begin by gathering up all your bedding, towels and draperies and run them through the washing machine and dryer. For good measure, consider washing your entire wardrobe and any other materials that have had contact with your skin. An hour's washing at 140o Fahrenheit is enough to kill most bed bugs. If your washing machine isn't large enough to handle bulky items like sleeping bags or duvets, head to the Laundromat to use their larger machines.
Next, while your bedding and draperies are in the washing machine, do a thorough vacuuming and dusting of your house. They say that cleanliness is next to godliness – well, in this case, cleanliness is vital for a home free from dust mites! Think about it – dust mites thrive off of your skin cells and other dust particles, so if you remove these items from your home, they'll have less food to live off of. Frequent vacuuming and dusting helps to keep potential food supplies low, which keeps dust mites away from your home.
Dust mites also hate low humidity – they can't survive in areas where there's less than 50% humidity. Now, unfortunately, all the sweating and breathing you do when you sleep makes your bed an ideal candidate for dust mite infestation. But you can make the rest of your home less inviting to these pesky pests by turning off your humidifier on occasion. Dust mites living in your carpets or other furniture may pack up and leave once they find the new environment inhospitable.
The last area you need to target is your furniture. Unfortunately, due to their small size, dust mites are able to burrow deeply into the cushions of your furniture, avoiding the vacuum cleaner, sun and other obstacles to their survival. And it's not like you can fit your whole sofa in the washing machine. In this case, prevention is important – frequently vacuum your furniture to remove the dust and skin cells that will attract dust mites. You may also be able to find hypoallergenic slip covers made up of mesh so fine that skin cells can't pass through. If allergies and asthma are serious problems for you, you may want to look into commercial products such as these.
Unfortunately, you'll never be able to truly eliminate dust mites from your home – the warm, dust-filled environment we create is just to tempting for them. However, by keeping your home as clean as possible with frequent washing and vacuuming, you'll be able to reduce the impact they have on your life.