Dust Mites and Allergies
6 Ways To Control Both of Them

California Department of Health Services Fact Sheet (Added 9/12/01)

Dust Mite imageHouse dust mites are the most common trigger of asthma. These are the mites that live in house dust. It is the feces of the dust mite that is the actual allergen that causes breathing problems. Dust mites produce feces about 20 times a day. Aside from being an allergen, the feces of the dust mite is light enough to float in the air, so it is easily inhaled by those of us who occupy homes and buildings. Then, when you consider there are about 40,000 dust mites per speck of dust, you can imagine (even if you'd rather not) just how many of these dust mite feces enter your respiratory system every time you take a breath.

Your indoor environment is especially vulnerable to dust mites if you live in a humid area, or if your home is subject to humid conditions for whatever other reason. Humid environments create the ideal habitation for dust mites, primarily since they result in a greater food supply for dust mites. Staples of a dust mites diet include plant materials, molds, and fungi, all of which thrive in humid conditions. Dust mites also feed on a less commonly-known but very prevalent airborne particulate: dead human skin, found in every home.

That "dust" you see in a shaft of sunlight coming through your window? Yep, mostly dead human skin, and you just can't avoid it. And dust mites love the stuff.

Based on the facts mentioned above, you can see why it is so critical to take action for the specific purpose of minimizing dust mites in your home, particularly if someone in your home suffers from asthma. In which case, we have compiled a list of 6 ways you can reduce the dust mites that reside in your home.

6 Ways to Reduce House Dust Mites:

  1. Casings. Bedding is the favorite home of the dust mite. Half the weight of the average pillow is dust mites! If you're allergy prone, you should encase your bedding and pillows with impermeable rubber or vinyl plastic wrappings and clean them frequently.
  2. Washing. You should wash clothes and bedding regularly. Washing in 60oF water is effective, but 130oF water will kill all dust mites. Washing in cold water kills about 90% of dust mites.
  3. Dry Cleaning. Dry cleaning kills all dust mites.
  4. Heating. Any type of heat will help minimize dust mites. Some examples include steam-cleaning carpets, tumble-drying (drying machine), direct sunlight exposure, and electric blankets.
  5. Air Conditioning. Air conditioning will dry out your indoor environment, which will reduce the food supply for dust mites, resulting in reduced dust mite populations. However, air conditioning strips beneficial negative ions from the air.
  6. Air Purification. In spite of your best efforts to remove dust mites from your home or other indoor environment, dust mites are simply too numerous and reproduce too frequently to keep their numbers lowered without the aid of a quality air purifier. It's important to know that an air purifier is MUCH different from an air filter (e.g. HEPA). HEPA and other filtration-type air cleaners will not make much of a difference. First of all, most dust mites are too small to be captured by even the best of filters - even a really good filter can only get particulates larger than .3 microns. In addition, most dust mites will not even pass through the filter's screen anyway. Despite manufacturer's claims that their units complete so many air exchanges per hour, or filter so many square feet per hour, these are mostly based on theoretical calculations. The reality is that most pollutants in a given room or home will not pass through a small, stationary filter.

[NOTE: The following paragraph in this article has been updated with text written by the author of this web site because the information was obsolete and incorrect.]

You are better off with a more advanced air purification technology that uses oxidation, which is considerably more effective at purifying air than any filter. Hydroxyl ions, hydro peroxides, oxide ions or negative ions remove pollutants from the air that are as much as 300 times smaller than the smallest particle a filter can remove. Plus, oxidation technology air purifiers can be emitted throughout your home, so they are more thorough in the area they cover. Oxidizers are also capable of penetrating upholstered furniture, bedding, etc. to destroy dust mites and their feces. Heat sterilization is also a very effective way to kill dust mites.

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