They’re a common allergy trigger, are present in even the cleanest of homes and there could be up to a million of them in your mattress. These microscopic creatures are called house dust mites (also known as bed mites). They feed on organic materials (such as dead skin cells) that have been broken down by fungi. Many people can live happily alongside house dust mites and often do not realise that they are present. But if you’re one of the millions of people worldwide who suffer from dust mite allergy, they can cause a whole host of unpleasant symptoms. These can include itchy, red eyes, a runny and ‘bunged-up’ nose, sneezing and worsened asthma and eczema symptoms.
If you have dust mite allergy, you’ll need to take measures to reduce the mite population throughout your whole home. In this article, we’ll focus on the mattress, which is where they are the most prolific. The mattress is a great place to start when taking steps to reduce dust mite levels. It’s thought that dust mites will fully colonise a new mattress within six months. The bed is also where people spend approximately a third of their lives!
Dust mites breed incredibly quickly and thrive in the conditions that modern homes tend to provide. It is thought that there are up to a million dust mites in the average mattress1. If the idea of this is enough to make you recoil in horror, follow these steps to get rid of them...
1. Block them out with barrier bedding
Did you know that special bedding cases are available for people with dust mite allergy? These are called barrier cases or dust mite covers. Available for duvets, pillows and mattresses, these cases are so densely woven that dust mites and their allergens simply cannot penetrate the fabric. This creates a physical barrier between you and the mites in your mattress, duvet or pillow. Many people swear by these cases to reduce their dust mite allergy symptoms. Simply pop a barrier case underneath your normal sheet, pillow case and duvet case for long-term mite protection.
We offer a range of effective and comfortable barrier cases. If you’re buying from elsewhere, check carefully to make sure that the products have not been treated with insecticides or acaricides. These can trigger symptoms in chemically sensitive people and are generally not the sorts of chemicals anyone wants to inhale! Our barrier cases are safe and gentle. They carry the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, meaning that they have been thoroughly tested to be free from harmful substances. You can buy these VAT exempt if you have dust mite allergy.
You can also find a wide range of dust mite proof bedding. If you choose a duvet or pillow that is certified dust mite proof, you don’t need to buy barrier cases. Look for the NOMITE certification for peace of mind that the materials used are not conducive to the growth of dust mites. NOMITE certified bedding also has a very tightly woven fabric covering to block out the mites.
Don’t forget to wash bed linens weekly at 60 degrees or more, as the mites can’t survive temperature extremes. If you have barrier cases underneath, we recommend these are washed at 60 at least three to four times a year.
2. Denature the allergens with a dust mite spray
You can spray your mattress, pillows, carpets and soft furnishings with a gentle allergen-neutralising treatment like HomeCleanse. When used according to the instructions, it can reduce your exposure to allergens by up to 90%.
Rather than killing the mites, HomeCleanse simply denatures the mite allergens. Avoid pesticides and insecticides as these can flare up symptoms of chemical sensitivity and are generally unsuitable for use in living areas. The active ingredients in HomeCleanse are ylang ylang, quaternium salts and eucalyptus oil.
3. Scare them off with sound waves
Did you know that high frequency sound can disrupt the reproductive cycles and feeding of dust mites? Ultrasonic dust mite controllers are available which emit a 40,000Hz sound inaudible to humans. Simply plug it in next to the bed to help reduce the number of mites in your bedroom. These are very cost effective and have been proven in independent trials to help decrease the dust mite population. This in turn should help to alleviate your allergy symptoms as you will be exposed to fewer allergens.
4. Use a specialist bed vacuum
When it comes to destroying dust mite allergens and removing debris, an ordinary vacuum cleaner may not be powerful enough. A handheld dust mite bed vacuum is a convenient and effective way to get rid of dust mites and bacteria in your mattress.
These often come with extra features such as a UV light to destroy germs, with a powerful motor to remove mite fragments.
5. Keep the conditions right
Dust mites need a certain level of humidity to survive. If you have dust mite allergy, we recommend using a hygrometer (also known as a humidity monitor) to check the relative humidity of your home. Pay particular attention to the bedroom. To keep the mites at bay, the ideal relative humidity is between 40 and 50%. If you have a respiratory condition, be sure to not let the air get too dry as this can make your symptoms worse. If your home is too humid, a dehumidifier is a worthwhile investment for keeping mite levels under control. A dehumidifier alone will not cure your dust mite problem, but it is a very useful tool when used in conjunction with other mite-fighting measures.
Dust mite allergens are incredibly lightweight and therefore can be distributed into the air when a surface is disturbed. For example, walking on a carpet can release the mite allergens into the air. Many people with moderate to severe dust mite allergy find an air steriliser to be very helpful in managing their condition. These will destroy airborne allergens like dust mite faeces so there are less particles for you to breathe in. We find that the Airfree range receives particularly good feedback for this purpose.
Click here to read further information on dust mite allergy and view products that can help.
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Disclaimer: Information included in this blog post is intended for information purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for consultation with a medical practitioner. Images not necessarily to scale.