What Are Dust Mite Allergens

House dust contains a mixture of tiny pieces of fabric, dander, plant matter, and creatures so small that they are not visible to the human eye.  These tiny creatures are called “house dust mites”.  Dust mites are present in all homes and live in bedding, upholstered furniture, carpet, and stuffed toys.  They thrive in hot, humid places (greater than 50% humidity), and feed on the dead skin that falls off the human body, as well as other organic matter.  Mite proteins are a very strong allergen (something that causes allergies).  If dust mite proteins are inhaled or come in contact with the skin of a person who is allergic, they may cause symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, wheezing, and/or dry, itchy skin.

  • Cover mattresses, box springs, and pillows in zippered dust mite proof covers.
  • Wash sheets and pillowcases every 1-2 weeks in hot water (120°), and dry in a hot dryer.
  • Large blankets/comforters can be placed in a hot dryer for 1 hour to kill mites.
  • Keep the humidity level in the home less than 50%.  Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner, if needed.  Do not use humidifiers or vaporizers unless indoor humidity is less than 20-30%.
  • Wood or vinyl floors are preferable to carpet.  If carpet is present, vacuum at least weekly when the dust mite allergic person is not in the room.
  • Vacuum using a double thickness HEPA filter bag.
  • Buy stuffed toys for children that can be washed by machine.
  • Limit clutter in the room.  Remove most stuffed toys from the child’s bed.
  • Wear a mask while you vacuum if you are allergic to dust mites.
  • Dust furniture weekly with a damp cloth.
  • Cover windows with blinds rather than curtains and clean with a damp cloth.
  • Dust mites live where people spend most of their time – in beds or in plush furniture.
  • Dust mites need food to survive. Their food is your dead skin flakes!
  • Dust mites thrive in warm, humid places.
  • Dust mites do not live in air ducts in homes.  Duct cleaning will not reduce exposure to dust mites.  It is not helpful to install HEPA filters on your air conditioner or heater vents for dust mite control.
  • Cleaning the home will reduce “dust”; but it will not get rid of dust mites in the bedding!
  • Freezing stuffed toys will kill the dust mites but will not remove the dust mite protein (the part that triggers your allergies).  These toys still need to be washed in hot water to remove the protein.
  • Chemicals and sprays (acaricides) are not needed, and will not have a lasting effect on the number of mites.
  • Portable air filters may offer a small benefit but most of the mite allergen is in the bedding, furniture and carpet where the air filters can not clean!

Protective covers for pillows or mattresses are found at many local stores.

  1. WalMart or Target (usually the least expensive)
  2. Bed, Bath and Beyond
  3. Most department stores
  4. Many online stores (most expensive but also the most comfortable!). MissionAllergy.com typically sells some of the best quality products.