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You'll Never Guess What's Sleeping in Your Bed

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Zeldin says the most effective fix is to wrap bedding, including the box springs, mattresses, and pillows, in zippered, allergen-proof casings. These casings can be bought at any linen store and cost less than $50.

Here are some additional tips to keep the mites from getting mightier:

  • Clean your bedding frequently and thoroughly in water temperatures of at least 130°.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to remove airborne allergens and to control indoor moisture.
  • Because dust mites prefer living in upholstered furniture and in carpeting, consider leather furniture and hardwood floors as an alternative. If not, regularly vacuum and steam clean upholstered furniture and carpet.
  • A less expensive option is to clean upholstered furniture and carpet regularly with a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters, which pick up particles as small as a dust mite.
  • As for man's best friend, keep in mind that dogs and cats are mite magnets. Consider keeping pets out of the bedroom and washing their bedding thoroughly.

The researchers also stress that mites aren't the only household respiratory risk factors. Other bacterial substances known as endotoxins also can have an irritating effect on the lungs. More research is needed on their role.

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