What Can You Do About House Dust Mites?◀ Back To Blog
January 24, 2014
Controlling house dust mites is a little different than your standard pest control problem. Dust mites feed on shed human and pet skin and molds in household “dust.” The mites are part a pest control problem and partly a medical problem.
Most homes have dust mites; they become a problem when allergies are involved. The house dust mite allergen that causes the allergic reaction are from the presence of live and dead dust mites, their shed skin and their feces. Chances are you won’t be able to see the mites and confirm their presence, since they are so tiny.
Can and should pesticides be used for dust mites?
Pesticides will not solve a house dust mite problem since the allergic reaction is caused by the fecal material and shed skins of the mites, not just the live mites. The allergen material remains after the mites are killed. Very few products are available for the control of dust mites. The greatest concentrations of dust mites are in the mattress, bedding, pillow and upholstered furniture. The best means of control is frequent cleaning of surfaces, bed linens and bed encasements – although this is not a sure cure.
Cleaning for House Dust Mites
It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate house dust mites in a home, but regular cleaning has been showing to greatly reduce their allergic effects. The cleaning is not just to remove dust mites themselves, but also to remove what the mites feed on which is made of shed skin flakes from people and pets, bacteria, pollen and fungal spores. Carpets should be vacuumed weekly. Vacuuming without a HE (high efficiency) filter does more harm than good. Bare floors should be cleaned with a damp mop or electrostatic mop to trap dust. Surfaces should be dusted 2-3 times per week with an electrostatic cloth.
Encasements for House Dust Mites
The bed and pillow encasements used for dust mite control are similar or identical to the encasement for bed bugs. Standard plastic mattress covers are not the same, and not effective. Washable, zippered allergen-impermeable encasements are best. Encasements should be washed or cleaned monthly. If not used, the mattress should be turned frequently, vacuumed and aired out after sheets are removed for washing.
Other Control Methods
Fabric items and items that can trap dust such as carpets, window blinds, drapes, stuffed animals, throw pillows and upholstered furniture should be removed, at least from the bedroom, unless they will be washed often. All bedding and other washable fabric items in the bedroom should be washed and aired out frequently. Steam cleaners can be used on some items that won’t be damaged. Down pillow should be replaced with washable, synthetic pillows.
Dust mites thrive in humid conditions and warm temperatures, so use of a fan or dehumidifier can sometimes help. Dust mite indoor populations are naturally lower in winter months when indoor air is drier. Some studies have shown that the use of air cleaners do not reduce dust mite allergens. If you are interested in encasements for your bed, contact Thomas Pest Services. Consulting an allergist may also be a good idea if you think dust mites are contributing to health issues.