The dust that settles on your furniture, flooring, window sills, and walls contains a whole lot of gunk. This includes everything from dead skin cells, clothing fibers, and pet dander to pollen, dirt … and dust mites.

Ew.

Blind, eight-legged, wingless, microscopic pests, dust mites feed on all of those substances. In just one ounce of dust, you can find upward of 30,000 dust mites. It’s true these creatures do not directly attack human beings (no biting or stinging here!), but their feces can set off a range of allergic reactions. We’re talking sneezing, atopic dermatitis, congestion, watery eyes, the works.

To find out if you have dust mites, you could observe a dust sample under a microscope or purchase a home testing kit. Odds are, though, if you have dust, you have dust mites.

Read on to find out how to get rid of dust mites and help cut back on allergic reactions and asthma-related issues.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites Naturally

Maintaining a clean, sanitized home is the best way to limit the number of dust mites you come in contact with. But beware of faulty “natural” remedies, such as sunlight. While ultraviolet light can kill dust mites, it must be used in dangerously high concentrations that are not safe for home use.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites on Your Mattress

  1. Dust mite-proof your bed. Use certified asthma and allergy-friendly sheets, mattresses, comforters, and pillowcases. These help keep dust mites out.
  2. Wash bedding weekly. Water that reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit can kill dust mites. Set your dryer to the hottest temperature, too.
  3. Reduce humidity. Dust mites prefer warm, humid environments in which to reproduce and form colonies inside your mattress. Lowering air temperature and using a dehumidifier will create a drier climate, one that deters these critters. Humidity should be kept below 50 percent.
  4. Never sleep with pets. Allowing pets in your bed will only attract dust mites with yet another source of food. Give pets their own, easily washable sleeping area far away from yours.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites Throughout the House

No one method is enough on its own to reduce the population of dust mites. Use these steps in conjunction with the others to keep numbers in check.

  1. Dust, obviously. With a cloth dampened by water or furniture polish, wipe down surfaces. It is not recommended that you dry dust, as that can spread more particles in the air. Dust before vacuuming, so anything not stuck to the cloth has time to settle on the floor and be vacuumed up.
  2. Vacuum weekly. After dusting, pull out the vacuum cleaner to draw away particles and dust mites from flooring, upholstery, and window coverings. While effective at ridding spaces of dust and dander, vacuuming won’t help much in reducing a large population of mites but can kill some. Be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  3. Mop daily. To clean hardwood, tile, and vinyl flooring, use a damp mop. You may also want to consider replacing all carpeted areas in your home with hardwood for easier control of dust mites.
  4. Declutter. Remove places for dust and dust mites to collect and congregate. This includes stuffed animals, papers, and knickknacks.
  5. Purify the air. Invest in a portable air purifier like one of these listed below. Or, use HEPA-grade air filters in your home, remembering to switch them out every one to three months.

Temperature extremes can also defeat these critters. Dust mites cannot survive in more than 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit nor in freezing temperatures. Because of this, you’ll never have to worry about dust mites in your air ducts.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites Chemically

Attempting to kill dust mites with bleach and soaps is futile, and pesticides should be used sparingly. First, opt for a less-toxic type, such as eugenol. An element of clove oil, this substance will kill dust mites on contact. It is also harmful to human skin cells, so when spraying wear protective gear, including a mask, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves, and safety glasses.

There aren’t any approved conventional pesticides for use against dust mites; however, acaricides, which are specially formulated to kill these creatures, may work. Use solutions containing benzyl benzoate or tannic acid. Benzyl benzoate will kill the mites, but not do anything to the droppings left behind. Tannic acid can neutralize the effects of those droppings.

When to Call a Pest Control Expert

Keep in mind that totally eradicating dust mites from your home is impossible. They’ll always be around. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out to a pest control professional. LawnStarter can help with your search. An expert in your area will inspect your home, confirm the presence of dust mites, and provide solutions to help you keep them under control.

Main Photo: Gilles San Martin via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0