Reducing the Risk of Dust Mite Allergies
To minimize your exposure to dust mites, consider the following tips:
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain relative humidity at about 50 percent or below.
- Encase your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen impermeable covers (available from specialty supply mail order companies, bedding, and some department stores).
- Wash all bedding and blankets once a week in hot water (at least 130 - 140°F) to kill dust mites. Non-washable bedding can be frozen overnight to kill dust mites.
- Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials and traditional stuffed animals with washable ones.
- If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpets in bedrooms with bare floors (linoleum, tile, or wood) and remove fabric curtains and upholstered furniture.
- Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth since this just stirs up mite allergens.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA filter to trap allergens that pass through a vacuum's exhaust.
- Wear a mask while vacuuming to avoid inhaling allergens, and stay out of the vacuumed area for 20 minutes to allow any dust and allergens to settle after vacuuming.
If you have a dust mite allergy, pay careful attention to dust-proofing your bedroom. The worst things to have in the bedroom are:
- Wall-to-wall carpet
- Down-filled blankets
- Feather pillows
- Stuffed animals
- Heating vents with forced hot air
- Dogs and cats
- Closets full of clothing.
Carpets trap dust and make dust control impossible. Here are some other factors to consider:
- Shag carpets are the worst type of carpet for people who are sensitive to dust mites.
- Vacuuming doesn't get rid of dust mite proteins in furniture and carpeting. Unless the vacuum has a special HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, vacuuming will just redistribute dust mites back into the room.
- Rugs on concrete floors encourage dust mite growth.
If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpet with washable throw rugs over hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors, and wash rugs frequently.
Reducing the amount of dust mites in your home may also mean new cleaning techniques, as well as some changes in furnishings to eliminate dust collectors. Water is often the secret to effective dust removal. Other recommendations include:
- Clean washable items (including throw rugs) often, using water hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures will not kill dust mites.
- Clean washable items at a commercial establishment that uses high water temperature, if you cannot or do not want to set water temperature in your home at 130 degrees (there is a danger of getting scalded if the water is more than 120 degrees).
- Dust frequently with a damp cloth or oiled mop.
(Click Dust Prevention to read more about dust-proofing rooms.)