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Worried about Dust Mites?

Dust mite Dermatophagoides which lives in bedding, pillows, carpet and furniture

Avoiding or Removing Dust Mites is Easy if You Follow a Few Prevention Tips

Dust mite Dermatophagoides which lives in bedding, pillows, carpet and furniture

Dust mites are tiny pests that can flourish in the places we sleep. Invisible to the naked eye and not leaving any bite marks, we may not even know they are there. But, dust mites can cause allergic reactions and make sleep less restful.  Here are some things to know and what to do to keep dust mites out of your bed.

What are Dust Mites?

The household dust mite is an invisible, microscopic creature of the spider family, less than ½ a millimeter in length, which evolved several hundred million years ago. But although these mites were around long before humans, they have become ever more common as our bodies and homes have provided them with warm shelter and abundant new sources of food. One of the dust mites’ favorite foods is tiny flakes of dead human skin which, for a hungry dust mite, are covered in nutritious bacteria, fungi and other tasty micro-organisms.

How Prevalent are Dust Mites?

It’s normal and healthy for a human adult to shed as much a 1½ grams of skin every day. This amount is estimated to be sufficient to sustain a million dust mites. Clothing, carpets, soft furnishings and, of course, bedding are ideal places for this rich source of food to accumulate. And human dwellings also typically provide the temperature and humidity levels which dust mites love. So it’s not surprising that the dust mite is extremely common in homes everywhere.

What Harm Do Dust Mites Cause?

But apart from being generally icky to think about, is there any reason to worry about dust mites? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and not good news for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Dust mites leave behind a digestive enzyme known as Der p1. This natural chemical is a potent allergen which attacks cells in the nose, lungs and skin and may cause or exacerbate the symptoms of asthma, rhinitis or eczema in susceptible individuals. Its prolonged contact with the skin during sleep means that bedding is particularly attractive to dust mites.  Waking with a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy, watery eyes is a good indications of dust mite infestation. Dust mites are a factor of the development of asthma in children.

How to Prevent and Remove Dust Mites

Man replacing a hepa filter in vacuum cleaner cleaning for dust mites and allergens

Unless you have a microscope and can pull a sample from your bedding (they’re easy to spot under a microscope), you may not know for sure if you have dust mites. But if you and your family are routinely waking up with a stuffy nose or skin rash, it’s possible you have a dust mite problem. Fortunately, though, there are a number of simple but effective ways to prevent or mitigate the problem. These methods also keep your house and bed smelling and feeling fresh and new, too. A few simple routines should help prevent having to worry about dust mites.

Control Indoor Temperature and Humidity

The warmth and humidity of the typical American home are highly attractive to dust mites and will encourage their rapid reproduction. But reducing the temperature of your home by just a few degrees and the humidity to below 50% you will discourage, if not eliminate them. For those living in very humid climates, regular use of dehumidifiers will also help reduce mold and mildew in the home as well as dust mites.

Use a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner

To keep dust mites out of carpets and soft furniture, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The filter is able to capture tiny particles that a regular vacuum cleaner can’t. Use a HEPA air filter in your living room and bedroom to keep the air free of dander that dust mites feed on, remove dust and other particles, and help reduce allergens.

Hot Water Wash Bedding

woman placing clean bedding and fresh pillow on clean white bed to prevent dust mites

As much as they enjoy the typical ambient temperatures in our homes, dust mites cannot survive great heat. Putting your bedding through a hot wash cycle (1400F) should be enough to kill them. Following up with a short hot tumble dry will complete the process. Since modern bedding lasts longer when cleaned in low-medium heat, this should not be done every wash cycle, but used when infestation is suspected or a few times a year as a preventive measure.

Vacuum Mattress with Baking Soda

Fabric-covered mattresses are also subject to being home to dust mites, but these can be eliminated by periodically vacuuming with baking soda. Protect your mattress with a washable mattress pad that resists moisture and bacteria and wash it regularly. Alternatively, you can use a latex mattress which is naturally resistant to dust mites.  

Clean and Change your Pillows Frequently

Sobel Westex dolce notte II bed pillow on clean gray blanket

There’s nothing like the softness and fresh smell of a newly laundered pillowcase and sheet for inducing soothing sleep. So even if you don’t have a dust mite problem, change your bedding, including pillowcases, weekly.  While many pillows can be washed, they will lose a bit of shape if done too frequently or incorrectly.  No matter how you care for them, it’s a good idea to replace your pillow every year or two. Apart from the issue of cleanliness, most pillows take a beating and will sag with time, losing enough of their original lift and shape to make a difference in your sleep comfort. If you suspect dust mites, replace your pillow with a brand new one when you vacuum the mattress. Otherwise, test your pillow for its ability to bounce back by folding it in half. If it doesn’t immediately spring back into its original shape, it’s time for a new pillow.

When buying a pillow, look for one that is protective against bacteria. Using pillows treated with products such as Silpure antimicrobial will help retard the growth of the bacteria and fungi which dust mites love, while at the same time neutralizing germs and odors.

Sobel at Home Quality Hotel Bedding and Pillows

At Sobel Westex we’re proud to be a supplier of top quality bed linen and pillows preferred by many premier hotels around the world. We’re delighted also to be able to share our collections with customers seeking to recreate that luxury experience at home, like with our popular soft and dreamy, as well as hypoallergenic, Dolce Notte II pillow, a perfect replacement for your worn out old pillow. Our bedding is made from quality materials with a proprietary anti-wear-and-tear weave for durability and ease of care. Many of our bedding selections feature protection with antimicrobial Silpure to help you enjoy healthier and more comfortable sleep.

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