While usual household insecticides have no effect on dust mites, there are ways that allergic people can reduce exposure to dust mites in the home – first, take actions to reduce dust mite populations and second, reduce exposure to dust.
Lower humidity: Reduce humidity levels to less than 50 percent inside your home, especially in the bedroom. This isn’t hard to do in the winter, but can be a challenge during summer months, especially in homes without air conditioning. 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.
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. Hardwood or vinyl floors with washable area rugs are ideal.
Reduce air infiltration: Airing out the house with open windows allows entry of pollen, which is another allergen as well as food for dust mites. In some climates, incoming air may be humid, which promotes dust mites.
Cleaning: Wash all bedding weekly. Research has shown laundering with any detergent in warm water (60 °C or above) removes nearly all dust mite and cat allergen from bedding. If you cannot launder blankets, dry clean them at least once a year. Shampoo, steam clean or beat non-washable carpets at least once a year.
Select appropriate furnishings: Avoid overstuffed furniture because it collects dust. Also avoid wool fabrics/rugs because wool sheds particles and is eaten by other insects. Use washable curtains and rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. If you cannot replace carpeting, have it steam cleaned at least once a year, springtime is best. This will prevent a build up of dust mites feeding on skin cells in the carpet during the summertime. Enclose mattresses and pillows in plastic to decrease mite populations in the bed. Replace feather pillows with synthetic ones.
Air Purifier: A HEPA air filter is very effective at removing dust.
All About Dust Mites:
House dust mites are tiny microscopic creatures that are an important cause of allergic reactions to house dust. They belong to the family of eight-legged creatures called arachnids. This family also includes spiders, chiggers and ticks.
Dust mites are hardy creatures that live well and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They prefer temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent, and die when the humidity falls below 40 percent to 50 percent. They are rarely found in dry climates.
As many as 10 percent of the general population and (in some regions) 90 percent of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites. Recent studies in the United States suggest that at least 45 percent of young people with asthma are allergic to dust mites.
Dust mite particles are just the right size to be inhaled. They are found in the highest concentrations in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture. They float into the air when anyone vacuums, walks on a carpet or disturbs bedding, but settle out of the air once the disturbance is over. A dust mite allergic patient who sleeps for eight hours every night spends one third of his life with his nose in direct contact with a pillow loaded with dust mite particles!
There may be many as 19,000 dust mites in one gram of dust, but usually between 100 to 500 mites live in each gram. (A gram is about the weight of a paper clip.) Egg-laying females can add 25 to 30 new mites to the population during their lifetime. Mites eat particles of skin and dander, so they thrive in places where there are people. Dust mites do not bite, and cannot spread diseases. They are harmful only to people who become allergic to them.