Invisible Danger At Home – How To Get Rid Of Dust Mites

updated: 11/10/2023

The Danger Lurking All Around Your House

Dust mites are some of the biggest villains at home. When most of us think of vermin and pests, our minds usually turn to things like mice, rats, cockroaches and flies. However, while these more visible pests definitely are unwanted and carry foul diseases, the dust mite is more insidious. You might not see them, but that’s the whole point. Your bed, carpet and sofa could be crawling with the little beasties, but you’d never know it. On the other hand, if your house was crawling with mice – or even if you’ve only got one mouse in the house, you know about it pretty quickly and can take steps to get rid of it/them.

Some Basic Facts About Dust Mites

Dust mites are found all over the world, but they tend to prefer the company of humans and warm, moist conditions. Two species of house dust mite are particularly common (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and D. farinae), with another species (which is in another genus) also is pretty common – not that you really need to worry about that unless you’re a biologist. All dust mites are about 0.5 millimetres long, so they are just visible to the naked eye, although you’d have to spend quite some time looking at dust to spot them. They like to eat the flakes of skin that we humans shed, but they’re not picky and will quite happily munch on shed skin flakes from cats and dogs. Dust mites are not insects – they are arachnids like spiders. They live up to 19 days for a male and 70 days for a female.

The real problem with these little villains comes from their droppings, which are the most common trigger for asthmatic attacks, and they’re also a common cause of eczema, bronchitis, itchy eyes and hay fever. In other words, they’re bad news!

How To Effectively Remove Dust Mites From Your Home


However, you can control the little beasties by starving them, killing them or shooing them out. While total eradication of dust mites is practically impossible – and you’d then have the problem of lots of dead skin particles building up – it’s not hard to keep on top of them. Freezing temperatures will kill house acari, and so will temperatures over 60°C.

Regular house cleaning gets rid of their food source – skin flakes – and it also gets rid of the droppings so they can do no damage. Vacuuming is excellent at getting rid of the skin flakes (and the droppings) and so is plenty of dusting. Dust mites are particularly fond of beds (warm, moist and full of skin flakes), so change your bedding frequently. Pillows and mattresses can also collect dust mites and droppings over the years, so air these regularly and turn them over. The same goes for duvets – you will need to wash these and air the inners periodically.

You can kill all the dust mites lingering in your bedding if they’re still alive and on it after a trip through the washing machine by popping the bedding in the dryer for 10 minutes at 60°C. If you have asthma, the extra expense of power used for running the dryer may be worth it. For the rest of us, a good session on the washing line in the breeze will usually be enough to get rid of the skin flakes that attract the mites.

People have often noticed that asthma and eczema are less common in old houses with wooden floors and lots of draughts. This is because wooden floors don’t trap as much dust as carpets do (and the dust will settle everywhere else instead of being caught underfoot) and dust gets blown around by the draughts. It means that the food of the dust mite is taken away, and so are the droppings. However, most of us don’t like living in the freezing, draught houses with cold floors. A good compromise is to air the home regularly by opening windows and doors. Remember – one person’s “nasty cold draught” is someone else’s “refreshing cool breeze”.

Let’s sum it up:

  • It is crucial you control the humidity level at home with dehumidifier and maintaining a level of below 50% will make it better.

  • For mattresses, you can use a mattress protector, which is usually installed on the top of the bed. Encase your mattress and pillow in airtight plastic covers to kill any new dust mites accumulated after a recent washing and keep others out. Water should be at 130 degrees Fahrenheit or have them washed at a professional laundromat, where hot water hazards are better prepared-for and less likely to happen. The mattress is the number one place that dust mites inhabit. During the summer, they live close to the top of the mattress, and in the winter burrow down into the middle. You can easily wash it together with your linen and thus eliminate the nasty vermin!

  • Regular vacuuming of the mattress with the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner is very helpful as beds are prime habitat. Dust mites prefer warm environment, and they are often in bed together with us without we even notice them.

  • All bedding should be washed once a week with how water and laundry detergent. Wash your curtains and duvets occasionally as they also contain the same amount of dust mites. In the summer take all blankets and duvets outside and leave them for a day on direct sunlight to get them disinfected.

  • Consider installing wooden floors instead of fitting a carpet. Avoid using carpets or, if you already have it, remove it if at all possible. If this is not possible, your carpet should be specially treated for allergens with a thorough bimonthly spray of 3% tannic acid. Be careful not to expose yourself to the tannic acid too much, though. It can be quite an irritant itself if not used properly. Either way, the removal of carpeting is the most effective way to get rid of dust mites. Mites thrive in the warmth and humidity between your carpet and the floor. Hardwood, linoleum, or tiling is attractive and practical alternatives to carpet if you’re willing and able to spend a bit of money and do a little redecorating.

  • When dusting at home, you should pick the dust with a damp cloth which guarantees you will remove it rather than spread it around in the room.

  • When cleaning your home and vacuuming the floor, you should use a mask to avoid inhaling allergens. Clean and vacuum your home at least once a week and disinfect all surfaces by properly dusting with a damp cloth — mop hard floors with a disinfectant to kill bacteria.

  • Last but definitely not least – if you live in the capital you can call a professional London carpet and upholstery cleaning technician to treat your bed and remove the invisible acari. The procedure employs the hot water extraction method that is commonly used in carpet cleaning. It is perfect for deep-clean treatment of heavily infested mattresses and delivers highly effective, sustainable results!


Red Alert At Home – How To Recognise Dust Mite Allergy

Dust mites droppings are the primary source of dust mites allergens. When the faeces become airborne and inhaled by humans, they cause sneezing and itching. Dust mites very often cause asthma, and their high concentration can cause a previously non-allergic person to develop an allergy. It is a fact that dust mites allergies exceed in the severity of other indoor allergens.

Symptoms of dust mites allergy

  • Runny and itchy nose

  • Asthma

  • Cough

  • Sneezing

These symptoms could be present in any season, but they are more severe in the time of the year when the windows are closed, and the temperatures are high. These symptoms become worse when we walk on the floor or sit on the bed as the dried dust mites faeces become airborne.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.