Facts about dust mites
To understand Dust Mites, we need to know a little about them.
House dust mites are microscope bugs that primarily live on dead skin cells which regularly shed from humans and their pets. They are too small to be visible to the naked eye; are only 250 to 300 microns in length and have translucent bodies.
Dust mites are a major cause of asthma and allergies especially in vulnerable individuals such as children and the elderly who are prone to have allergic reactions. The harmful allergens they create come from their fecal pellets and body fragments. A single dust mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day, each containing a protein to which many people are allergic. The fall and winter months are a particular problem, as we close up our houses and the concentrations of dust mites and their feces increases inside. Another factor this time of year is with the air being so dry, so is our skin. With our skin so dry, the skin tends to shed more. Considering dead skin is the primary food source for dust mites, we are offering them a feast.
Skin cells and scales, commonly called dander, are often concentrated in lounging areas, mattresses, frequently used furniture, and associated carpeted areas. Beds we sleep in all the time, chairs we use regularly, and carpeted areas around the furniture we use or where our pets lay. Mites prefer warm, moist surroundings such as the inside of a mattress when someone is on it. A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside and nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet. Seating areas can also be a big culprit. Those cushy, fabric sofas that everyone loves can hold a lot of dust and dead skin therefore attracting dust mites and resulting in an abundance of feces from those dust mites. Walking over a rug, sitting down in a chair, or shaking the bed coverings, makes the dried dust mite feces airborne, making the allergic person's symptoms worse.
So what are the actual effects of these dust mites? The protein substances in the dust mite feces produce antibodies in humans who are allergic when they are inhaled or touch the skin. These antibodies cause the release of histamines by certain immune cells which believe itself is under attack, which together causes an inflammatory response and the classic symptoms of allergy -- itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and wheezing to nasal congestion, swelling, and irritation of the upper respiratory passages
Now you ask, what should I do to make my home a healthier indoor environment?
Regarding your bedding, the most effective means is to enclose the mattress top and sides with a plastic cover or another dust mite impervious cover and thoroughly vacuuming the mattress, pillows, and the base of the bed weekly as well as wash all linens weekly using hot water of at least 130 degrees. This hot water will kill any dust mites. Vacuuming your carpets and upholstery every week can help in these areas. When you vacuum are sure to use a vacuum with HEPA filters, which will remove up to 99 percent of the allergen material; not just dust mite feces, providing you make several passes, not just one or two. Clean or replace the air filters on your furnace or air conditioner at least once a month. Filters that are rated to trap airborne allergens are more effective than plain spun glass.
It is virtually impossible to eliminate all dust mites from a household, but areas, where mites tend to congregate, can be targeted. You should have your furniture and carpets professionally cleaned regularly. Remember, there are multiple reasons to clean furniture and rugs. First, most people consider the appearance, next is removing soil will also increase the life of your furnishings and carpets. Lastly, clean for the health effects. Forty years ago Alec’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning adopted a log that has been on all our business cards and stationery ever since. It’s a picture of a man cleaning a rug and the words around him are, “ Dirt breeds germs, call for the health of it. “
Every home is different. Some range from a single person to a family of 6 or more. Then throw in a few pets. So considering not only each home having different living conditions, but people living in these homes also vary. Many may have asthma or other respiratory conditions that may require a much cleaner environment. Due to all these variables, I can't make a recommendation of cleaning frequency other than our industry recommends an annual cleaning of all furniture and carpeting and semi-annual cleaning on areas that are used more frequently or bedrooms of people that are known to have allergies.