What Are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are microscopic arthropods found in household dust that produce the maximum number of indoor allergens (substances that cause allergic reaction and asthma) from their body particles and fecal waste.
Dust mites don’t come under the category of ‘parasites’ as they do not hurt or crawl on our bodies.
Biological details of Dust Mites
- Body Shape and Features: Round – shape body with striated cuticle, two claws, and four pair of legs
- Size: 0.2 mm to 0.3 mm in length
- Visibility: Cannot be seen with naked eyes
- Average Life Cycle: 64 to 100 days
- Breeding: A female dust mite can lay 50 to 900 eggs in her lifetime
- Allergens produced: Around 2,000 fecal particles and a larger number of partially digested, enzyme covered dust particles
Where Do Dust Mites Come From?
Dust mites arise naturally and can occur in almost all homes. Humidity is the most significant factor in determining whether a house has high concentrations of dust mites or not.
Dust mites absorb moisture from the air in areas with low humidity and dust mites do not drink water which is an unique characteristic of these pests.
Where do Dust Mites live?
Dust mites are present almost everywhere as detectable levels of dust mite allergens can be found in three out of four houses in the United States. They are especially common in warm and humid places.
They live in carpets, curtains, beddings, and mattresses present in your home, and feed on dead skin cells of both humans and animals, found in dust.
How to detect dust mites?
The following are some ways through which you can determine the presence of dust mites in your house:
- If anyone in your shows the health symptoms mentioned above, it could indicate the presence of dust mites.
- Collect dust samples on a piece of clear tape from those places in your house where you doubt the presence of dust mites like bedroom corner, bedding, pillows, and examine it under the microscope.
- Their presence is confirmed if you notice any spider-like creature matching with the biological details of the dust mites mentioned above, or brown rectangular fecal pellets.
How harmful dust mites are?
Dust mites might be tiny creatures but they can create severe health problems for people who suffer from asthma or develop allergic reactions quickly.
A person can face the following allergic reactions due to a dust mite infestation:
- Continuous sneezing or coughing
- Irritation in eyes
- Dry cough or wheezing attack
- Difficulty in breathing
- Continuous itching on skin
- Rashes on skin
Reason for allergic reaction caused by dust mites: The waste produced by dust mites include a variety of allergens. If your immune system is sensitive to these allergens, it misreads them as a disease-causing bug and starts producing antibodies to fight them off. The ensuing chemical reaction causes discomfort in the form of allergic reactions mentioned above.
Home Remedies to Get rid of Dust Mites
Some plants are also helpful to fight against the dust mites. Flowers with large leaves or a great number of small leaves can be very beneficial as they collect dust and fight against various microbes and mites.
Even if there are no symptoms of dust mites that doesn’t mean you don’t have any dust mites as they live everywhere. So it’s really essential to get rid of such dust mites. Below are some of the natural ways to get rid of dust mites.
Since dust mites are omnipresent and have the potential to cause an adverse allergic reaction, you should take the necessary precautions and get rid of them as soon as you detect their presence.
Dust mites can be removed naturally with the help of a variety of plants and flowers like tea tree and eucalyptus oil, which collect dust and are highly effective against microbes and mites.
Apart from this, you can remove dust mites from your house through the following ways:
1. Clean your house on a regular basis
Dust mites prosper in house dust as it offers them a lot of food supply in the form of dead skin cells shed by humans and animals constantly.
So, it is advised to clean your house and remove dust regularly using a damp cloth or microfiber duster by opting for a top – to – bottom cleaning direction.
Do not use a Feather Duster as it would only move the dust around and not remove it.
2. Frequent vacuuming
Vacuuming rugs and carpets twice every week is enough to keep the dust mites at bay if not eliminate them.
But, if you suffer from asthma or any other allergic and have a pet, you should vacuum on a regular basis.
3. Use Air Purifiers
Dust mites are not airborne when burrowed under soft surfaces like carpets but the allergens released by them are airborne that cause allergic reactions when inhaled.
Air filters like HEPA Air Purifier filter out the allergens present in the air and prevent any allergic reaction.
4. Regularly clean your bedding
Beds are the perfect location for dust mites to thrive as they are warm, humid, and have lots of skin flakes that act as bait. It is estimated over 10 million dust mites present on your pillows, bedsheets, and mattress, at any given time.
You can minimize their presence by changing your bedsheets weekly and washing the dirty sheets thoroughly in hot water as it would kill them and reduce their colonies.
5. Use of allergen-proof covers
Allergen – proof covers for mattress and pillow minimizes the presence of dust mites to a great extent as it acts as an obstruction between the dust mites and their food.
They are expensive as compared to normal covers but are highly efficient in minimizing allergic reactions.
6. Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous Earth is a multipurpose powder acquired from sedimentary rocks shaped from fossilized algae having high silica concentration.
Since silica is a dehydrating agent, Diatomaceous Earth dehydrates dust mites and gets rid of them.
How to use Diatomaceous Earth (DE): Wear gloves and take a handful amount of powder in your hands. Drizzle it on your carpets, beds and let it sit for approximately 20 minutes and then vacuum it.
7. Lower your home’s temperature and humidity
Dust mites can survive in humidity levels ranging from 68% to 78% and in temperatures between 66⁰F and 75⁰F.
Once you detect dust mite infestation, adjust your home temperature below 64⁰F and humidity level between 39% to 44% and it will result in dust mites leaving your residence.
8. Avoid using carpets
Carpets provide aesthetic to your house but also attract 100 times more allergens are compared to hard floors.
If you want to get rid of dust mites, clean your carpets with water vapor regularly, and avoid using carpets and rugs in your home, replacing them with hard floors.
9. Groom your pets regularly
Animals shed a lot of furs allowing dust mites to have a feast on them. In order to reduce dust mites, groom your pets regularly and keep them off your beds and couch.
You should visit your veterinary immediately if you notice any rash on their body or if they shed their fur excessively.
How to prevent dust mites from infesting your home?
You can prevent dust mites from infesting in your home through the following ways:
- Wash your mattress, bedsheets, cushions, and other infected areas once every two weeks in hot water
- Wash your pillows once a week
- Use synthetic fillers in your pillows instead of feathers
- Put your pillows, mattresses, and quilts out in the sun on a weekly basis
- Regularly vacuum your mattresses, curtains and upholstery
- Regularly vacuum and wash children’s toys.
It can be concluded that the most convenient and effective way of avoiding dust mites is regularly clean your home. It is only in extreme conditions that calling an exterminator is required as apart from cleaning, there are products like Diatomaceous Earth available which are quite effective in their job.