Dealing with Dust Mites without Mythology and Hysteria

So lets learn a bit about dust mites

Dust mites feed on flakes of shed human skin and flourish in the stable environment of dwellings just like your home. House dust mites are a common cause of asthma and allergic symptoms. Mite guts contain a potent digestive enzyme that persists in their doodoo and are major inducers of allergic reactions such as wheezing.

How can we keep mites under control?
Let’s  first avoid myths

Allergy and asthma sufferers are often advised to avoid feather pillows due to an association of feather pillows with a presumed increase in dust mites and dust mite allergens. However, according to a 1996 study from the British Medical Journal, the reverse is true. Polyester fibre pillows contained many times more dust mite per gram of fine dust than feather pillows.

The real problem is  loosely woven casings because they allow dust mites, dander and mold spores to collect inside. Whether it’s down or synthetic, look for high-quality, tightly-woven casings and wash bedding regularly in hot water.
– reference – Dr. Nabeel Farooqui –  The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

What can we do in a systemic way to make life inhospitable for dust mites?

Again, high home humidity levels make things cozy for dust mites. Therefore the first line of defense is getting home humidity levels down. Humidity under 50% on a steady basis will control dusts mites best. If you haven’t checked out the notes on home structure and mechanical systems and moisture and humidity- you need to…  We address moisture and humidity issues here.

Moisture issues with pillows and bedding and duvets.

We breathe on and lay our little heads on, and sneeze on, and slobber on our pillows and bedding. All this localized moisture is not related to overall home humidity directly; but of course, more drying takes place at lower humidity… but the real issue here is localized moisture in our favorite pillows and our cumfy bedding.

What can you do?

Using the clothes dryer on bedding can really help too.

Existing mites can be eradicated through ten minutes’ exposure to lethal temperatures – near 105 °C (221 °F) – in a household clothes dryer, using a special chemical salt powder treatment that makes life not worth living for dust mites.

Beware, people are allergic to the treatment. Here is a note from wikipedia on using disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT) powder.  Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate can irritate the eyes.

Dust mite numbers can be reduced by replacing carpets with flat surfaces that are easier to vacuum. Carpeting provides lots of fiber and fuzzy stuff to ensconce little mite butts down into…  Maybe it is time to consider getting rid of the carpet.  There are many reasons why you might be happier without carpets and many really attractive options for flooring besides just leaving less fuzzy stuff around as dust mite nurseries…  So is it time to get rid of the carpet in the house?