House Dust Mites explained
The house dust mites (also known as bed mites) are too small to see, do not bite and are most common in humid areas such as coastal cities and towns, with levels decreasing in drier and inland areas. House dust mites eat moulds, fungi, dead mites, bacteria, pollen, or almost anything organic, but their favourite food is dead skin cells - which accumulate in our bedding, carpets, clothes, couches, etc.
To help yourself or others who suffer allergic asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis or eczema from house dust mites, consider the following
To remove dust mites and their allergens
- Every week, wash sheets, pillow cases and other bedding in water temperatures 60̊C or above, or
- Use a commercial product containing tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil (these products are formulated to kill dust mites in cold water)
- Every 2 months, wash dust mite resistant covers on mattresses, pillows and doona in water temperatures 60̊C or above.
- Every 3 months, wash blankets and doonas that are not protected by dust mite resistant covers.
To kill dust mites
If you cannot wash in hot water (above) the following will kill the dust mites but it will not remove the allergen they create
- A 10 minutes hot cycle tumble dry of pre-washed and dried items.
- Sending your clothes for Dry Cleaning should kill house dust mites (check with your cleaner).
- Pop items in the freezer overnight.
Suggestions to minimise house dust mites are numerous, here are some of the more common
- Cover mattress, pillow and doona's with dust mite resistant protectors.
- Consider cotton or acrylic blankets that are easy to wash - rather than doona's and quilts.
- Remove sheepskins or woollen underlays from the bed and bedroom.
- Remove soft toys from beds.
The following tips apply to all rooms in the house:
- Consider removing all soft toys (particularly from bedrooms) and replace them with wooden or plastic toys which can be washed.
- If keeping soft toys, wash them in tea tree/eucalyptus oil weekly or place in the freezer overnight.
- Consider removing carpets (which contain large amounts of allergens) and replacing them with hard floors such as wood, tiles, concrete, etc.
- Consider leather or vinyl couches, chairs and lounges instead of cloth.
- Consider using window blinds, external shutters or washable curtains instead of standard curtains on windows.
- Keep the house dry and well ventilated.
- Use extraction fans in bathrooms to reduce humidity in the house.
- Consider getting someone else to dust or vacuum for you. These activities will stir up dust for 20 to 120 minutes - which may cause allergic symptoms.
- Consider a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum cleaner.
- Each week
- use a damp cloth or electrostatic cloths to clean hard surfaces around the house
- vacuum around the house (remember to clean/replace the vacuum filter regularly)
- At the beginning of each new season, wash all clothes taken from 'storage' to remove dust mites and their allergens.
- Look for fabrics that are easy to wash and dry.