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Cleaning with dust mite allergies

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Our homes are breeding grounds for millions of dust mites that we can't even see. It's not a concern for most of us, but these tiny creatures can cause problems for people who are allergic.

It's usually not the mite itself that causes the reaction but the allergens in their droppings. House dust mite allergy is commonly associated with asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis. Asthma UK estimates that 90% of people with asthma are sensitive to dust mites.

House dust mites like to hang out in mattresses, bedding, carpets, and soft furnishings. They have 8 legs and are around a quarter of a millimetre long. They like warm and slightly moist conditions, like centrally heated houses. As they feed off dead skin cells, warm beds are one of their favourite places.

So how can you reduce dust mites?

Keep your cool

As dust mites love warmth, keeping your home cool will help reduce them. "Open windows at night for air flow as house dust mites do not like fresh air," says clinical director of Allergy UK Maureen Jenkins.

As dust mites like moisture, a de-humidifier may help, or make sure your rooms are well-ventilated with extractor fans or vents in glazing.

Bed care

Wash your bedding, duvet covers, sheets and pillow-cases every week at a high temperature of 60 degrees C or more as that will kill the mites.

Swap feather pillows, and duvets for synthetic materials and avoid blankets made of wool.

"Enclose mattress, pillows and duvet in allergen barrier covers," says Maureen, "and drape your duvet over a chair during the day as house dust mites in the mattress, pillows and duvet do not like light."

Kids with a dust mite allergy shouldn't sleep on the bottom bunk as allergens could float down on them from the upper bunk.

Cut clutter

"Reduce clutter and keep as much as possible in cupboards or covered storage units," says Maureen. "And cut down the amount of fabric in your home like cloth upholstery, cushions, and heavy curtains."

Hard flooring is better than carpeting for people with house dust mite allergies.

Keep the number of cuddly toys to a minimum and put them in a bag in the freezer once a week, then wash and tumble dry them to kill off the mites.

Damp duster

"Use micro-fibre cloths instead of old fashioned dusters, which merely redistribute dust," says Maureen.

Try dusting with a slightly damp cloth otherwise you'll just send the dust particles floating off into the air. Maybe think about investing in a steam cleaner.

If you have the dust mite allergy, wear a face-mask when you clean.

Suck it up

Frequently vacuum with a high-filtration vacuum cleaner capable of picking up more of the smallest dust particles.

Make good use of all the vacuum attachments to get the dust that lurks under beds, behind cupboards, and radiators, and in between kitchen appliances and boilers. Vacuum curtains, sofas and chairs too to suck up dead skin cells.

Reviewed on November 14, 2017

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