Dust Mite Prevention Techniques That Work
Just about 80 percent of American homes have some level dust mite allergens— whether that’s in beds, carpets, or other fabric and upholstery. While a certain amount of dust mite allergen is normal and in fact, expected, there are methods you can use to reduce their volume, and more importantly, the allergy and asthma symptoms that often come with them.
What are Dust Mites?
Besides generally being gross, dust mites are nearly ubiquitous in our lives, and cause many common allergy symptoms. They’re also notorious for aggravating respiratory conditions like asthma. A microscopic pest that lives in mattresses, bedding, furniture, carpets, dust mites can survive in and on pretty much anything that has upholstery in a home.
While they don’t bite, like bed bugs, they can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions like sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, postnasal drip, and more. Depending on your individual sensitivity, these symptoms could be severe, especially if you have asthma or other respiratory difficulties.
Dust Mite Prevention Tips and Techniques
So how do you get rid of dust mites in your house? There are three key areas to focus on in order to reduce the impact dust mites and their allergens have on your home, and your life:
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent and control dust mites in your home is to be aware of the air flow in your home. Mites and other allergens like pollen can come into the home when you use attic fans or have open windows. On the other hand, using the air conditioner minimizes allergens entering the house and if you have an air purifier, this can prevent mites and pollens entirely. During the winter, changing your furnace filter regularly, and swapping it for a HEPA filter, can reduce the impact of dust mite allergens. Vent and duct cleaning can also minimize the amount of circulating dust, mites, and allergens.
Changing and removing some of the upholstery in your home is a particularly effective dust mite prevention technique because it limits the available habitat mites have to live in. For example, if you suffer from serious allergies, you may consider removing wall-to-wall carpeting in favor of smaller, washable area rugs. Most hot water washing cycles kill dust mites which allows you to keep areas cleaner than you can in a carpeted space.
Similarly, switching to hard surface furniture can also help. This might look like swapping out a plush sofa for a wooden platform couch with removable cushions you can wash, or a couch with a hypoallergenic fabric. Heavy drapes can support large quantities of dust mites, so changing them out for vinyl blinds or removable, washable curtains can go a long way to improving your indoor air quality.
As you might imagine, keeping everything clean is an important dust mite prevention technique — if you don’t already, try to establish a cleaning schedule that includes steam cleaning carpets if you have them. Wash sheets and bedding in hot water at least every 2 weeks and preferably once per week to prevent dust mite build up. Launder pillows, blankets, comforters, rugs, drapery, and cushions once a month on average.
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