Picture the scene. You’re curled up in bed at night, tired after a long day.
But – unknown to you, you’re sharing this space with tiny, unwanted visitors!
Many microscopic creatures inhabit our homes, but some are more harmful than others.
Suffering from allergies? Finding your skin irritated at night? It’s likely we’ve found the cause of the problem…
Here’s how to get rid of dust mites.
What are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are microscopically small relatives of spiders and ticks. However, unlike spiders, they’re invisible to the naked eye! Measuring at a miniature size of just 0.2 millimetres, it’s hard to imagine these creatures would cause any trouble.
What Do Dust Mites Do?
Contrary to popular belief – they do not bite, sting or burrow into our skin. Instead, they live and feed on dead skin cells.
These can come from both animals and humans, found in mattresses, carpeted areas, lounging areas and furniture.
Numerous dust mites have a short life span of 10-30 days. But, depending on the environment and moisture conditions, females can live up to 70 days – and lay hundreds of eggs.
What Harm Do Dust Mites Cause?
Dust mites are the most common reason for allergens and skin reactions in the UK.
Their faeces and body fragments contain high levels of protein-based allergens and can cause symptoms of the common allergic reaction. This includes:
• Nasal congestion
• Watery, itchy eyes
• Runny nose
• Swelling of the sinuses
Imagine burying your face in a pillow, or getting into a bed full of dust mites! In fact, this is a reality for most of us. The bed and bedroom are where typically 100,000 to 10 million mites reside.
How to Get Rid of Bed Mites
Now we know what they are, and why they’re harmful – it’s time to take action.
Here are some top tips for killing dust mites:
Remove Dust by Cleaning
The first step of eliminating dust mites is an obvious one.
Clean and remove dust regularly, ideally a few times a week. Dust mites live and thrive on dust, which is made of our dead skin cells! Identify the most common areas in the bedroom that get dusty, such as:
• Window sills
• Any venting areas
Afterwards, use an antibacterial spray and a wet cloth to sweep it up. Take care not to simply displace dust from the surface to the floor or the air! This will not help eliminate the problem.
Dispose the cloth once you’ve finished dusting, or wash it in hot water.
Another tip: use a strong vacuum to capture any dust on the carpet, corners of the bedroom, rugs and fabric furniture.
Turn the Heating Down
Dust mites thrive in humidity, particularly temperatures between 24°C and 27°C.
Anything outside this range won’t necessarily kill and eliminate them. However, it will slow down the breeding. Therefore, if you can, set the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 21°C.
Not only will this slow down the growth of any dust mites, but it’s also considered a normal and healthy temperature for humans too.
Lower the Humidity Level
Lowering humid levels also decreases the breeding of dust mites.
An ideal level of humidity for dust mites is 70%. Anything below causes the reproduction to slow down, as it is out their comfort zone. Therefore, ensure your bedroom has around a 50% humidity level.
You can measure the humid level with an electronic humidity monitor. If your bedroom has a 70% or above level, try ventilating your bedroom and house by circulating the air frequently, for example by opening the windows.
Wash Bedding Every Week in 40°c
Your bed and bedsheets are the perfect environment for dust mites to thrive and live in! Therefore, ensure you’re washing your bedding every week.
Hot temperatures kill dust mites. So, use this to your advantage. Wash pillowcases, fitted sheets, bedding, pyjamas, curtains and other washable fabrics at 40°C or above. Use a similar temperature in the dryer too, to kill off any remaining dust mites that might have survived the washing machine!
If you don’t have a dryer, direct sunlight is also an excellent way of killing the pesky mites!
Just like hot temperatures, freezing cold temperatures also kill dust mites.
For more delicate fabrics or items that cannot be washed (such as silk or lace) freeze them. Place the items in a clear plastic bag and put them in the freezer for 24 hours. This will kill the dust mites completely.
Once frozen, take the items outside and vigorously shake them, as freezing only kill the mites – it won’t kill any faeces that cause allergies.
Steam Clean Them
Steaming is another great option for items that cannot be washed or frozen. This includes hard to reach areas, heavy curtains, cushions.
The steaming temperature of 93°C or higher will not only kill the dust mites, but also disinfects by killing bacteria and mould. Once steamed, ensure you go over the area with a vacuum.
De-cluttering your bedroom and bed is another excellent way of eliminating and reducing the growth of dust mites.
Clutter gathers dust very quickly, therefore removing unnecessary items, such as teddies on the bed, will help stop prevent this.
Once the clutter is removed wipe/wash the items you want to keep and thoroughly vacuum the area to pick up any mite faeces. Do the same with items inside your wardrobe and under your bed!
Spray Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Oil
Tea tree is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. It’s known for killing and disinfecting almost anything.
So, once you have cleaned your bedroom, add 2 tablespoons of organic tea tree oil and 2 tablespoons of organic eucalyptus oil into 2 cups of distilled water.
Pour into a bottle and spray literally everywhere in your bed and bedroom.
This will kill and repel any dust mites. Do this almost daily!
Keep Pets Out of the Bedroom
Cats and dogs create more dead skin cells for dust mites to survive and grow on.
Although it’s not always possible, try preventing pets from coming into the bedroom or sleeping on the bed.
If you’re not keen on carpet anyway – this tip is for you. Carpets are a breeding ground for mites! Why not replace them with floorboards or tiles instead?
If this isn’t possible, do a deep clean of the carpet – at least once a year. Use an anti-allergen carpet treatment powder and sprinkle on to kill the mites. Always remember to vacuum again as the treatments do not kill the faeces.
Another brilliant way of removing dust mites and the faeces of your mattress is by sprinkling baking soda over it, letting it sit for 15 minutes, and then hoovering it off.
The baking soda will collect the dust mites, therefore the hoover will pick up the mites much more easily. But, be aware, this works best for fabric mattress such as spring coil. Do not try this on a latex or memory foam core.
Use a Hypoallergenic Mattress and Anti-Allergy Bedding
The best effective and efficient option is to purchase a hypoallergenic, dust mite-resistant mattress and pillows.
Latex is a material made from the sap of the rubber tree, and is naturally resilient to mites, therefore making it impossible for them to thrive. So, why not sleep on a latex mattress?
Another great option is to purchase an anti-allergy pillow and mattress cover, creating a barrier for dust mites to enter.
Try opting for a cover made from tightly woven cotton. This will ensure you’re not overheating at night, creating moisture for the mites to thrive in.
Clearly – bedding is one of the most important considerations for those wondering how to kill dust mites. Particularly if you suffer from allergies or skin conditions, it’s advisable to sleep on organic cotton only. Everything we offer is free from chemicals, pesticides, and is also FairTrade certified. Browse our full range of luxury bedding here.