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Controlling Dust, Dust Mites, and Other Allergens in Your Home - Topic Overview

Controlling dust mites

Dust mites are visible only through a microscope. People are allergic to dust mite droppings, not the dust mites themselves. Allergy to dust mites is a year-round problem.

  • Keep the house aired out and dry. Dust mites do well where humidity is greater than 50% but do not do well in dry conditions. Try to keep the moisture level (humidity) below 50%. This may be difficult in some seasons and some climates. Plants and fish tanks add to humidity, so keep these out of the bedroom.
  • Dry vacuuming doesn't pick up dust mites. Consider steam cleaning carpets when possible. In addition to cleaning the carpet, the heat of the steam kills dust mites.
  • You can buy chemicals (ascaricides) that kill dust mites and that you can use on carpeting and furniture. But many experts do not consider them effective enough to be worth the trouble and expense of using them.
  • Wash bedding, including pillowcases and mattress covers, in hot water [130°F (54.4°C)] every 1 to 2 weeks. You can also dry bedding at high temperatures.
  • You can limit your contact with dust mites by using allergen-proof covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows, and washing them regularly. This works well as part of an overall plan to reduce allergens in your home. It is not enough to use mattress and pillow covers without some of the other methods mentioned above.

Adults spend one-third of their time and children spend half of their time in their bedrooms, so it is important that you take steps to prevent allergens in this room.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 30, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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