If you are allergic to dust or dust mites, the allergist has probably instructed you to avoid dust mites. That may sound easier said than done. After all, if you can’t even see dust mites, how do you prevent dust mites? You prevent dust mites by removing their food source and taking away their habitat. You can’t completely prevent dust mites but you can reduce the dust mite allergen. Here is what you need to know.
Know your enemy
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu advises “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Well, you know you are allergic to dust mites, so you know yourself. That’s half the battle. Now you must know your enemy, the dust mite.
Dust mites feed on shed human skin cells. They will eat animal skin cells in a pinch, but they prefer human skin. They also like it where it is warm, dark and slightly damp. Dust mites take in moisture from their surroundings, they don’t drink water. So, to stay hydrated, dust mites need a humid environment.
Now that you know a little about your enemy, you can defeat them by targeting your efforts where you will get the most benefits.
Encase your bed to starve them out
Your mattress and pillows are dark. When you crawl into bed you provide the warmth and moisture dust mites crave. They just want to snuggle up and get a good meal.
Keep dust mites in their place. Put a barrier between you and the dust mites with zippered dust mite proof mattress covers and pillow encasements. These covers are made from special materials that will not let dust mites get through. The mites are trapped inside, cut off from all sources of food. Eventually, they will die. Good riddance!
Dead dust mites release allergens, so it is important to keep the zippered covers on your mattress, box springs and pillows all year long. Not only do the covers prevent the dust mites from getting a meal, but they also provide a barrier that protects you from the dust mite allergens. You can’t breathe the allergens in because they are trapped by the encasement.
Wash regularly to kick them out
Once you have zippered covers on the bed, you must still remove their food source and evict any newcomers. Since dust mites feed on skin cells and like places that are warm and damp that is where you start your siege. Your sheets and your pillowcases collect skin cells as you sleep. Humans shed skin all day, every day. As you move on the sheets, the skin cells rub off.
It may be disgusting to imagine, but dirty sheets are an all-you-can-eat buffet for dust mites. Shut down the buffet by cutting off access to their food source.
Strip the sheets, pillowcases and blankets off the bed at least every 7 days and wash in hot water. Really hot water. Water that is at least 140°F. If you can’t wash in water that hot you might as well use cold water. That’s because it takes really hot water to kill mites and neutralize their allergens. It also takes hot water to rid the bed linens of body oils and skin cells.
If you can’t get your water that hot (many hot water heaters don’t allow temperatures that high for safety reasons) then you need to take a different approach. You can wash with special dust mite removing detergents like Allergen Wash. They take a regular detergent and add super surfactants that cause the fibers in the fabric to release all the dust mites and skin cells. This allows you to wash in lower temperatures but still get the benefit of higher temperatures.
If you don’t want to use a special detergent then use an additive that targets dust mites. De-Mite Laundry Additive is the only product made specifically for dust mite removal. It harnesses the power of natural tea tree oil to kill mites and wash them loose from the fabric. However, this product has no soap in it, so it won’t remove dirt and body oils. You must use detergent with De-Mite, that is why they refer to it as an “additive”. However, it is so effective you can wash your sheets in cold water and still get rid of mites.
Clear out where they collect
You can prevent dust mites by removing all the places they collect. More specifically, you remove all the places that collect their allergens. This is basically any fiber surface that can’t be washed in hot water.
That means replacing carpeting with hard surface floors. Use hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile or even stained concrete. A hard surface floor doesn’t contain fibers that hold the dust mite allergen. Damp-mop or vacuum hard surface floors regularly to pick up dust.
Rugs are not recommended. If you must have rugs, use rugs that are small enough to fit in the wash and treat them like bed linens. Wash regularly to remove dust mites and dust mite allergen. If your rugs are too large to fit in the washer or can’t be washed with hot water, you must treat them to break down the allergens.
Denaturing agents or dust mite allergy relief products such as ADMS, ADS or Ecology Works Antiallergen Solution will neutralize dust mites. It won’t kill the mite, but it will stop the allergen.
Remove dust catchers from the bedroom. Evict those stuffed animals and upholstered furniture. Tzotchkes belong in glass-front cabinets, not on the dresser. The more that sits out, the more that collects dust mite allergens, the more that must be cleaned once a week with a damp rag. Save yourself some work and clear out all the places dust mites collect.
Clear the air
If you don’t want to breathe in dust mite particles, then remove them from the air. A good HEPA filtered air cleaner can help with your allergies if you use the right machine.
Make sure it is a true HEPA machine that removes 99.97% of microns at the .03 level. That will take care of any dust mites, dust mite feces, or dust mite allergens that might be floating around.
If you run an air cleaner, make sure to run it 24 hours a day. That will continually keep the air clean.
Speaking of HEPA filters, use a vacuum that is fitted with a HEPA filter and stay away from bagless vacuums. You want a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t dirty the air as it cleans the floor.
Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store