How to Manage Dust Mite Allergies
Avoiding dust mites is nearly impossible, since that would mean living in a bubble, or at least vacating your residence, an extreme measure to be sure. However, there are ways you can reduce the populations of dust mites in your home and make breathing a little easier.
There is a general consensus among dust mite experts that taking just a few simple steps can substantially reduce the symptoms and frequency of allergic responses to dust mite allergens. Here they are:
Encase mattresses and box springs in impermeable zippered covers. Encase pillows in similar covers. This is an almost universal recommendation from Doctors and allergists.
Wash bedding, including pillow cases, blankets, and mattress pads at least once a week in hot water (over 130F).
Vacuum your residence, especially the bedroom, once each week. Use small pore vacuum bags or a HEPA filter. Remember that vacuums tend to put more dust into the air, so consider recruiting someone else to perform this task. Wait at least twenty minutes afterwards for dust to settle again.
Remove unnecessary furniture, especially upholstered furniture like sofas, recliners, and couches, and replace with leather or vinyl that does not retain as much dust.
Remove carpeting and/or area rugs if this is an option, especially if they are deep pile.
Remove plush toys (stuffed animals) from children’s rooms or replace them with washable fabric equivalents if possible.
Simply opening windows for one hour per day can increase ventilation and reduce humidity levels.
What Does NOT Work
Indoor air quality experts recommend that persons be cautious when considering devices and treatments that claim to alleviate dust mite allergies. These include:
Air filters. Airborne dust mites, dead mites, and their fecal pellets are larger in size than the particles air filters are designed to catch.
Heating duct cleaning services. Dust mites do not live in air ducts, and the accumulation of dead mites and their droppings is minimal. Consider cleaning ducts only if there is sufficient debris to restrict air flow, or particulates begin to be discharged through diffusers and into occupied areas of the household.
Portable HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are essentially useless because dust mites and their fecal pellets are heavy, and quickly re-settle after disturbance causes them to become airborne.
Some acaricides (chemicals that kill mites) can cause at least as much irritation as the mites themselves. Benzyl benzoate, while effective against dust mites, is not without its side effects on human household residents.
The devices listed here can be marginally helpful under certain conditions, or in certain rooms within a home or apartment.
De-humidifiers can be an asset, especially in basements where dampness is often a problem. Remember that dust mites love high humidity. Persons allergic to dust mites should, however, avoid sleeping in basements and basement apartments.
Laminar Flow Air Cleaners are designed to clean air in a very small area. So, these devices can be helpful when they include a HEPA filter and are attached to the beds of dust mite-allergic asthmatics. The filter will create a thin zone of dust-free air just above the sleeping person, reducing their asthma symptoms.
Electrostatic air filters can complement efforts to reduce fabric surfaces where dust mites proliferate.