House dust mites are found in most homes. They are microscopic, eight-legged creatures, they are not parasitic, do not bite and they don't burrow under the skin, like scabies.
The concern about dust mites is the people who are allergic to them. Symptoms associated with dust mite allergies include nasal stuffiness, runny nose, stuffy ears, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, respiratory problems, eczema and asthma. Many people notice these symptoms when they stir dust during cleaning activities. But remember, dust also contains other allergens, including cat and dog dander, cigarette ash, cockroach droppings, mold spores and pollen.
DerP1, the dust mite allergen, is from their tiny feces and body fragments which are components of dust. These particles are so small they can become airborne and inhaled when dust is disturbed.
Mites are so small they are virtually invisible without magnification. Under optimal conditions, the entire life cycle from egg to adult takes three-four weeks.
Dust Mites eat you where you sleep!
Humans continually shed skin and lose about 1/5 ounce of dead skin each week. We also spend about one-third of our lives sleeping so high levels of dust mites are often associated with the bedroom, especially bedding and the mattress.
It’s a Dry Heat! Dehumidify and clean with heat.
Dust mites do not drink water, but absorb water from the air and the environment. House dust mites feed on human skin scales, pollen, fungi, bacteria and animal dander. To thrive, dust mites need very warm temperatures (75-80 degrees F) and high humidity levels -- 70-80 percent relative humidity. But when humidity is 60 percent or lower, one study showed the mite population stops growing and actually dies out.
To eliminate dust mite allergens, first, take actions to reduce dust mite populations and second, reduce exposure to dust. No one single method has been found for reducing mites and relieving allergy suffering.
LOWER HUMIDITY -- Reduce humidity levels to less than 50 percent inside your home, especially in the bedroom. Studies have shown air-conditioned homes have ten times fewer dust mite allergens than non-air-conditioned homes. In addition to cooling the house, air conditioning reduces the humidity dust mites need to thrive.
Wash all bedding weekly. Research has shown laundering with any detergent in warm water (77 degrees F) removes nearly all dust mite and cat allergen from bedding. Using heat does not stop there- One study has shown using an electric blanket for eight hours each day reduced dust mites by 50 percent in one month.
Steam clean carpets at least once a year. High heat carpet cleaning in Boulder, CO is even more important in bedrooms and should be done more often then the rest of your home. But, springtime is best. This will prevent a build up of dust mites feeding on skin cells in the carpet during the summertime– when dust mites thrive.
High heat upholstery cleaning in Boulder on a regular basis is important- furniture collects dust. Also avoid wool fabrics/rugs because wool sheds particles and is eaten by other insects. If you do own wool rugs, have a moth/insect treatment included with your Oriental rug cleaning in Boulder. Use washable curtains. Enclose mattresses and pillows in plastic to decrease mite populations in the bed. Replace feather pillows with synthetic ones.
Don’t sleep with your pets. If you are a pet lover, locate their sleeping quarters as far from yours as possible and furnish their sleeping area so it can be cleaned easily. Dust mites eat animal dander so allergens will be plentiful in areas where family pets sleep. Hardwood or vinyl floors with washable area rugs are ideal.
VACUUMING -- The most important tool for managing house dust and dust mites is the vacuum cleaner. Regular, thorough vacuuming of carpets, furniture, textiles and other home furnishings such as draperies will help keep dust mite populations low. Use a vacuum with highly efficient filters (HEPA) designed for use by people with allergies to dust. It is better to vacuum thoroughly once a week rather than lightly on a daily basis. Combining vacuuming with carpet cleaning in Boulder, CO will at least double your success. Vacuum mattresses and upholstered furniture thoroughly. For example, 20 minutes for each mattress is not too long.
DUSTING -- Dust furniture before you vacuum so the dust has time to settle on the floor, where it can be picked up by the vacuum. Do not scatter dust. Instead, dust with a damp cloth rather than dry dusting. Spraying furniture polish/dusting liquid directly on surface reduces airborne particles by 93 percent compared with dry dusting.
AIR PURIFERS -- A researcher at the University of Texas-Austin found a HEPA air filter was much more effective at removing dust than ion-generating air purifiers which make particles electrically charged to remove them from circulating air.
As stated before, not one single practice works by itself in reducing dust mite allergens. But if you regularly practice the above tips, you should breathe easier.