Controlling Dust Mites

. . . in the house

While all of the following recommendations are ideal, the real world tells us that they are not all going to happen.  Try to be as conscientious as possible, but pay particular attention to vacuuming as often as you can with HEPA filtration.

Central air conditioning plays a major role in asthma and to a lesser degree may be related to many indoor allergy problems.  Indoor air, in today’s energy-efficient, closed environment homes is brimming with microscopic allergens from dust mites to pet dander, pollens and more, all bottled up with nowhere to go.  And to make matters worse, this same air is being constantly re-circulated throughout your house. If you are considering purchasing a central air conditioner, be certain that you can add a high efficiency filter to it in order to reduce these allergens as much as possible and to control other airborne bacteria.

As an alternative to central air conditioning, your doctor may recommend using an air purifier/filter in the bedroom and other rooms to reduce the levels of allergens circulating throughout your home.  Air filters are effective only on airborne particles, not those that have built up in your carpets, upholstered furniture and bedding.  A quality free-standing air purifier will greatly reduce irritating allergens in the room of your choice.  Always choose one with a true HEPA filter.  HEPA air cleaners can be a tremendous help in purifying the air.  HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers have the capacity to filter out particles that others miss.  A “true” HEPA filter must be able to capture particles of at least .3 microns in size with 99.97 percent efficiency.  Anything less efficient is not a true HEPA and should be referred to as a “HEPA-type filter.”

If you don’t have central air conditioning, consider buying a room dehumidifier.  Maintain a relative humidity level of 40 to 50 percent to help prevent dust mites from thriving in breeding.  Mites hate dry air and cannot live when the humidity level remains below 50 percent. They’ll die after several weeks and you’ll lower your chances of new mites hatching.  Empty the dehumidifier tray often. Keep the tray clean, otherwise mold can grow and cause you more allergy problems.  Be aware, however, that a low humidity level (20 to 25 percent) can irritate the sinuses and respiratory system.

Avoid heavy drapes, double curtains and other heavy window treatments. Choose unlined washable curtains, vertical blinds, or pull-down shades that don’t collect dust and are easy to clean and maintain.  DeMite® Fabric Sealer™,  a hypoallergenic, non-aerosol spray, helps keep your home environment free of dust mite and pet allergens, particularly those on upholstered furniture, curtains and draperies. Use DeMite® Eat My Dust™, a hypoallergenic and non-aerosol spray, to help capture and hold dust mite and pet allergens on all wood and leather furniture and wood paneling.  It leaves no oily residue to attract additional allergens and dust. It is also free of perfumes and irritating chemicals.

Consider removing large carpets and wall-to-wall carpeting from your bedroom and other frequently used rooms, and replacing them with hard-surface flooring and washable area rugs. Wash them often with your chosen detergent, adding DeMite® to the water, and tumble dry.  Shake them outdoors regularly.  Bare floors – hard wood, laminates, vinyl, or tile, for instance – are ideal, as they are deterrents to allergen build-ups and are much easier to keep clean.

Carpets are allergens reservoirs. Studies show that carpets accumulate allergens at one hundred times the rate of bare floors. Up to 100,000 dust mites may be living in a 3-inch square section of your carpet, each one producing up to 20 fecal pellets per day!  See a video of live dust mites by clicking here. As carpets get old, they begin to harbor more and more allergens – fecal pellets and exoskeletons of dust mites, pet dander and saliva, house dust, pollen, indoor mold growth and other substances that can trigger allergies or asthma.

If you cannot remove your carpets, vacuum them regularly.  Work against the pile, stroking several times over each area, to capture as many allergens as possible.  Wear a protective mask unless someone else does the vacuuming.  The “sufferer” should stay out of the area for at least one hour to let the air settle.

Conventional vacuums don’t retain microscopic particles such as dust mite allergens (10 microns), the cat allergen Fel d1 (3 microns), animal dander and pollens, which are found by the billions in carpets. Yes, they pick up these allergens, but because their filters are not physically capable of retaining small particles, they blow them right back into the air you breathe where they hang suspended for at least an hour after vacuuming. Their filtering systems usually retain only particles 50 microns or larger, not the ones small enough to stimulate your allergic symptoms.  REMEMBER TO ALWAYS USE A VACUUM WITH TRUE HEPA FILTRATION.

You can also make your conventional vacuum more efficient by adding a special high-filtration bag designed to capture the smaller particles ordinary vacuum cleaner bags don’t retain. These are generally available for most upright and canister models. Check with your allergy products distributor for more information. One housecleaning tip: be sure to do all dusting of furniture and other surfaces before you vacuum so the dust has time to settle on the floor where it can be picked up by the vacuum cleaner.

You might also try to treat your carpeting periodically with special sprays or powders that kill dust mites or neutralize their allergens, as well as pet dander, mold, mildew and pollen, rendering these particles harmless.

Keep your entire home free of dust and clutter. The more items in the room, the more dust will accumulate. Eliminate such dust collectors as decorative pillows, dust ruffles, books, magazines, stuffed toys, dried flowers, nick-knacks and wall hangings. Wipe surfaces weekly with a damp cloth or cloth that attracts dust instead of just scattering it about. Use DeMite Eat My Dust on unpainted wood surfaces. Don’t forget to dust windowsills, window frames and the tops of doors.

Keep furniture at a minimum to help reduce surfaces on which dust can collect.  Simple designs attract less dust.  Wood, vinyl and metal surfaces are preferable as they are easy to maintain. Avoid upholstered sofas and chairs; use leather, vinyl, or Naugahyde, when possible, by reducing the number of dust traps, like rough-textured fabrics.

A dehumidifier in the bathroom will help to remove excess humidity produced by bathing and showering.  Shower stalls and curtains are notorious as breeding grounds for mold and mildew.  Replace mildewed shower curtains and/or liners.  Always use a heavy-duty curtain that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria.

Avoid exposure to other irritants such as perfumes, plug-in air fresheners, scented candles, potpourri, tobacco smoke, pesticides and other aerosol sprays, chemicals and paint fumes, as they can trigger allergy symptoms. Cigarette smoke is an allergen. DO NOT SMOKE IN THE HOUSE!

Many of our suppliers carry the products mentioned in this article as well as DeMite Products.