Although we’re usually unaware of it, our homes are often filled with numerous microorganisms. In case you’re experiencing allergy symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, drippy nose, itchy eyes and skin, there’s a great chance that you have a dust mites infestation.
Dust mites can’t bite you but might induce symptoms of asthma, itchy eyes and skin rashes in humans. Fortunately, there are rather simple ways to remove dust mites from your home. Keep reading to learn more about what dust mites are, can they be seen with the naked eye, how does their presence impact health, and what are the methods for removing dust mites from your space.
What Are Dust Mites and Can They Be Seen?
Dust mites are microorganisms that look like microscopic insects that usually feed off the dead skin. On a daily basis, an average human sheds up to 1.5 grams of dead skin, which is enough to feed around 1 million dust mites per time.
When seen under a microscope, dust mites look like tiny, translucent spiders. They can be found pretty much anywhere in the house, especially in the places where we spend a lot of time, such as the bed, sofa, and other furniture and carpeting. These microorganisms also thrive on rags and stuffed animals.
Their size ranges between 250 and 300 microns, which means that they’re invisible to the naked eye. Their normal lifespan is 1 month in males and three months in females. Although they prefer warm and humid conditions, we should note that they can be found in homes all around the world. They can also travel on one’s clothes, so we should note that they spread and multiply easily.
Usually, dust mites aren’t dangerous to human health, since they don’t spread diseases, but their faecal matter can imply allergic reactions especially in those suffering from asthma. In the next section, we’ll focus on the ways they impact human health.
How Dust Mites Affect Health?
As stated earlier, dust mites feed on the dead skin, which means that they’re simply not interested in biting you, so they shouldn’t be confused with bed bugs and other such parasites.
Anyway, inhaling their skin and feces can induce allergy symptoms, such as skin rashes. Allergic reactions take place all year long but tend to get stronger during the warm seasons. Body reactions to dust mites infestation include coughing, sneezing, stuffy or drippy nose, watery or itchy, itchy, red skin, itchy, watery eyes, postnasal drip, itchy throat and others. For those more allergic to dust mites, symptoms of asthma are another possible consequence.
People often experience wheezing, coughing and chest pain due to dust mites as well. Bedtime usually means that your body is in a horizontal position, and reactions to dust mites can be worse then. We should also note that the longer time spent indoors means that you’re more likely to catch one of the above-mentioned health issues.
How to Tell Dust Mites Apart from Other Microorganisms?
As stated before, dust mites can’t be seen with the bare eye, so how do you know whether you have them in your home? In the next paragraphs, you’ll find an easy and fun way to determine if they’re present in your space.
For this “experiment” you’ll need a simple, affordable magnifying glass 10x or more. Those can be found in bookstores. Another thing you’ll need is some clear tape which you’ll use to collect small portions of dust.
Use a Clear Tape to Take Dust Samples
Make sure to pick samples from the places where dust likes the most, such as corners of the room, under tables, chairs and other furniture, and even couch carpeting. It’s also important to take samples from your bed since you spend around one-third of your life sleeping so there must be plenty of dropped skin for mites to eat. In case you’re experiencing itchy skin, remember to pick a sample from itchy areas too, since the itch might imply their presence in those spots.
Use a Microscope to Recognize Dust Mites
Use the magnifying glass to observe the pieces of tape which you used to collect dust samples. Focus on finding tiny creatures that look similar to spiders. As we said before, they have translucent bodies, with eight legs, no eyes and no antennas.
Another thing you should keep your eye on is the feces dropped by dust mites, which look like rectangular pieces of brown substance. A single dust mite produces 20 pieces of feces daily.
In case you notice any of the two listed signs of dust mites, there’s probably a dust mites infestation. In the sections below, we’ll explain why they are thriving in your home, and what are the best ways to remove them, and prevent them from multiplying again.
Why Does My House Have Dust Mites?
We’ve said earlier that dust mites enjoy warm and humid conditions, so our homes are perfect spaces for them. They need temperatures within a range of 69-77 Fahrenheit degrees. The bodies of dust mites are very sensitive to dehydration, so they also prefer humidity higher than 50%.
In most cases, these microorganisms enter homes by traveling. Visiting hotels, hostels, bars, restaurants, or even taking a public bus or train can allow dust mites to enter your home. They can also get in your home when you’re having guests since dust mites can travel on clothes and other personal stuff, and then catch on your furniture or clothing.
Their favorite places in a household include beds, couches, pillows, rugs and other carpeted furniture since all these places provide what it takes for microorganisms to thrive. Once again, there’s no need to worry about stings or bites, since dust mites feed on your or your pet’s dead skin cells.
How to Handle a Dust Mites Infestation?
There are several steps you should follow in order to get rid of dust mites. To start with, decrease humidity levels by ventilating the space. Opening the window should be enough, but if you’re living in an area with high levels of humidity, you might consider purchasing a dehumidifier.
Use extractor fans to keep your bathroom and kitchen dry, and make sure to remove condensation from your windows daily.
As we stated earlier, dust mites simply love the places where you sleep, so wash your bedsheets, pillowcases and blankets on a weekly basis. Make sure to wash these items using the high-temperature setting on a washing machine.
Another great option we should mention is plastic covers for pillows, blankets and mattresses. These covers are great protection from dust and allergens settling in your bed.
Vacuum clean all of your carpets daily or consider removing them since floorings such as linoleum, laminate or tiles are much less likely to offer dust mites conditions they need.
In case your kid suffers from dust mites related allergies, you should push extra effort into keeping its bedroom fresh and clean. Also keep your child’s stuffed toys in a wooden box, since this will stop dust from catching on to them. If the soft toys are already dusty, put them in a plastic bag and leave them in the freezer for 24 hours. Then remove them, and shake off the remaining dust on the outside. It’s probably a good idea to repeat this process weekly, especially with your child’s favourite toys.
Wash window curtains every 10-15 days, or consider replacing them with blinds. If you have blinds, make sure to wipe the dust off them regularly.
How to Stop Dust Mites From Coming Back?
As with any other allergen, the prevention of dust mites is a key to a healthy life. Although it’s nearly impossible to prevent each and every one of them from settling in your home, there are actually several steps you can take to put the dust mite population in your home under control:
- Removing carpets from your home is a great idea since carpets are one of the places dust mites like the most.
- If you still decide to keep your rugs and carpets, make sure that you vacuum to clean them as often as possible. Vacuum cleaners that use HEPA filters are the best solution out there since they’re able to remove any airborne particles bigger than 2.5 microns.
- Remove dust often, and make sure to do it on furniture, blinds and any less-sized places where dust tends to remain.
- Regulate humidity levels in your home and make sure to keep them beneath 50%. This will not only help prevent the thriving of dust mites but also increase your comfort and air quality.
- Use dust mite-proof covers and cases to cover your mattress and pillows, and prevent dust mites from settling and multiplying in your bed.
This concludes our pretty comprehensive post about dust mites. Follow the hints given above to determine whether your home is infested with dust mites, and then follow the listed steps to eliminate them. Finally, take your time to vacuum clean and dust regularly, as well as to keep humidity in your home under 50%, in order to prevent dust mites from coming back inside.
We hope you like the article and find it useful. As always, if you have any further questions, feel free to post a comment, and we’ll be happy to respond.