Despite your best cleaning efforts, dust mites can be a constant battle. You may be wondering, are there dust mites in the air?
Dust mites cling to fragments too heavy to be airborne for an extended period. Dust mite allergens may be stirred up into the air by vacuuming, the rustling of bedding, or traffic on a carpet. Dust mite body parts and waste settle back down within a few minutes of being stirred into the air.
Indoor air quality matters to most of us, but it is something that most of us do not give much thought to.
Our homes are our safe havens from the outside world; the place we feel protected from the things that can harm us.
It’s important to consider our in-home air quality. That famous saying, out of sight, out of mind rings very true here.
We do not routinely give much thought to what is in our air and how it may be affecting our health.
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Are There Dust Mites in the Air?
You clean your home and do all the things you think you should do to keep your home clean. You may have heard of dust mites and know they live in the dust in your home. So, are there dust mites in the air?
Dust mite allergens are too heavy to be airborne for more than a few minutes. Dust mites are attracted to items that collect dead skin cells, such as bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. When these items are disturbed by human or pet contact, dust mite allergens may be stirred into the air.
There are several reasons to address the air quality in your home, as there are invisible particles that we breathe that cannot be seen by the human eye.
This includes dust mite allergens. The dustier our homes are, the more dust mite allergens we will have floating around in our homes.
And although dust mites attach themselves to items in our homes that would not keep them airborne for an extended period of time, we are still breathing them into our lungs when the dust is stirred up by our daily in-home activity.
Dust mites feed on human and pet skin cells and live in our bedding, carpets, upholstered furniture, and accumulated dust.
Although microscopic in size, these pests create very common indoor allergens.
It goes without saying that the more we clean, the more we can help to reduce the amount of dust and dust mites in our homes.
Even a home that appears clean can stir up an allergic reaction to dust mites.
Related Article: 11 Ways to Get Rid of Dust in Your House
Where Do Dust Mites Come From in the First Place?
So we have learned that dust mites consume the skin cells of pets and humans, but how do they get into our homes? Where do dust mites come from in the first place?
Dust mites come from other breeding grounds in various ways such as moving new upholstered furniture into your home, as well as moving blankets, clothing, and bedding from one home to another. These tiny dust mites can be transferred into your home easily by what you bring into your home.
When researching where dust mites come from in the first place, one will find multiple resources describing where in our homes dust mites prefer to hang out.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t answer the question. How did the dust mites get there in the first place?
After doing further research it became clear. These tiny organisms continue to reproduce and can be transferred from one breeding area to another.
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For example, you just purchased a new couch. Whether new or used, this couch has probably been sat on before.
Dust mites love to nest and create breeding grounds on upholstered furniture.
Maybe you have a coat that was on the back of your office chair for a few days and you’ve decided to bring it home.
Dust collects on everything, including clothing that is out in the open air. Where there is dust, there are dust mites.
Are Dust Mites in Every Home?
What if you are incredibly clean and do everything you can think of to prevent dust mites from thriving in your home? Are dust mites in every home?
Dust mites can be found in almost every home. Controlling the humidity in a home can have a direct impact on the number of dust mites, as dust mites cannot thrive in an environment with little humidity. Dust mites absorb moisture from the air and need some level of humidity to survive.
Yes, it’s really true. No matter how clean a home is, almost all homes can have dust mites.
As mentioned, dust mites need humidity in the air to survive, as they do not drink water as we do.
Their bodies absorb moisture from the air, which they require to live.
Older homes have a tendency to have a higher level of dust mites, as an aged home would naturally have accumulated more dust that a newer home.
We all have bedding, and we all shed skin cells. Dust mites love our pillows, blankets, and sheets.
Keeping our bedding clean on a routine basis will cut down on the number of dust mites that live on our beds.
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Use mattress and pillow covers made from a tight-woven fabric that keeps out dust and mites as well as skin cells.
Plastic mattress covers may also be purchased that are made to entirely cover the mattress to ensure dust mites and skin cells cannot get inside.
Carpets are another common breeding ground for dust mites. Vacuuming carpets once or twice a week will help reduce dust mite allergens.
Wet-vacuuming to clean the carpets with hot water will also kill dust mites.
Consider removing wall-to-wall carpet in your home, or at least in the bedrooms, to dramatically reduce the number of dust mites.
Avoiding fabric-covered furniture such as leather, vinyl, or wood can really help cut down on the accumulation of dust mites, as upholstered furniture is a popular breeding ground for dust mites.
Using a dry cloth on hard surfaces is also suggested to help cut down on the number of dust allergens.
Hundreds of thousands of dust mites can live in any home, yet there are ways of controlling that by taking proactive measures to eliminate what attracts the dust mites in the first place.
Are Dust Mites Harmful to Humans?
Air quality in our homes matters, as we do not want to be breathing in unhealthy chemicals, allergens, and other pollutants to our lungs. Are dust mites harmful to humans?
Dust mites are rarely harmful to humans, yet those with asthma can suffer severe asthma attacks when exposed to dust mite allergens. Inhaling dust mite fecal matter and body parts, known as dust mite allergens, may cause mild allergic reactions that include a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Dust mite allergens are one of the most common indoor substances we breathe into our lungs. For most of us, this is a mere annoyance and does not cause us serious physical harm.
In some cases, dust mite allergens cause a more severe allergic reaction, resulting in persistent coughing, sneezing, and congestion, as well as severe asthma attacks.
If you are looking for ways to eliminate dust mite allergens in your home, consider an air purifier.
They do not kill dust mites, yet they are effective at helping to remove the dust mite allergens from the air.
For information on using air purifiers to combat dust mites, visit Do Air Purifiers Help Get Rid of Dust Mites? We Find Out where I go into detail about what types of air purifiers you need to avoid.
It’s important to focus on ozone-free air purifiers for your health and the health of your pets.
It is important that those with asthma take extra efforts to avoid the amount of dust mite allergens in their home.
An asthma attack can be serious, and measures need to be taken to prevent them.
Dust mites are not parasites. They do not burrow into our bodies, bite us, or sting us. They simply live on consuming our dead skin cells.
Courtesy of The American Lung Association.
How Do You Get Rid of Dust Mite Allergens?
There are ways to combat the number of dust mites and dust mite allergens in your home.
Let’s take a look at measures you can take to gain some control over these microscopic organisms.
10 Ways to Get Rid of Dust Mite Allergens
There are several ways to get rid of dust mites. Let’s take a look of some of them here:
1. Keep the home dry and aired out.
2. Steam clean carpets.
3. Vacuum once or twice a week.
4. Vacuum before dusting.
5. Dust hard surfaces with a dry cloth.
6. Use an allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers.
7. Wash and dry bedding every week in hot water.
9. Wet-wash hard-surface floors.
10. Use a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
Although it is nearly impossible to rid your home of all dust mites, with some effort, dust mite allergens can be cut down substantially.
Dust mites absorb the water they need to survive in the air. Therefore, those living in areas with higher levels of humidity will likely have more dust mites in their homes.
Humidity levels of between 70 to 80 percent are ideal living conditions for dust mites.
Using dehumidifiers may help lower the humidity levels and in turn, reduce the number of dust mites in your home.
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.