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9 Tips For Eliminating House Mites

Effective Strategies For Controlling House Mites

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Updated January 13, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

House Mites And Your Asthma

House Mites And Your Asthma

Photo © American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

You may never be able to get rid of all house mites, but reducing house mites can improve your asthma symptoms. You can decrease your exposure to house mites by either decreasing the total number of house mites in your home (i.e. killing house mites) or decreasing your exposure to the house mites (i.e. environmental control of house mites).

House mites, also known as dust mites or Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, typically like to live in different kinds of fabric, especially bedding. House mites do not easily move about your home like other types of mites, and have specific needs to grow. As a result, the following tips can help you decrease house mites in your home. The bedroom is probably the most important place to attempt to eradicate house mites, as you can have a significant exposure during sleep.

9 Tips For Removing House Mites From the Bedroom

  • Allergen-proof cases for bedding- Encasing pillows and mattresses is one of the most effective ways to decrease house mites. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that this simple and comfortable method to decrease house mites is also effective. Reducing house mites in this manner is associated with decreased asthma medication use and airway hyperresponsiveness. Even if you buy hypoallergenic mattresses and pillows, encasement is still important to prevent house mite colonization.

  • Washing bedding- If you cannot encase a pillow to prevent house mites, it should be washed frequently with other bedding. Current guidelines recommend washing all bedding every one to two weeks in 130°F water so that house mites are killed. Washing with cooler temperatures will remove, but not kill, house mites.

  • Vacuuming- While vacuuming decreases household dust, it does not effectively decrease house mites. Using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is more effective, but also more expensive. If your allergy to house mites is significant, consider wearing a face mask or leaving during vacuuming.

  • Remove carpets- While not as effective as encasing bedding, removing wall-to-wall carpet may decrease exposure to house mites. Removing bedroom carpet would likely be most successful.

  • Clean hard surfaces- Wiping down hard surfaces with a damp wash cloth will remove more than 90% of house mite allergens.

  • Change bedroom location- This can be particularly helpful when the bedroom is located in the basement. This may be helpful because humidity levels and moisture are higher in the basement.

  • Dehumidifiers- While using air-conditioning alone does not decrease levels of house mites, lowering humidity levels can help decrease house mites. Unfortunately, portable dehumidifiers may not work very well in parts of the country where humidity is already very high. For dehumidifiers to effectively lower levels of house mites, humidity levels must be below 35% for at least 22 hours per day.

  • HEPA filters- HEPA filters for your central air and heating systems are expensive and also not effective. Because house mites do not stay airborne for long periods of time, only small amounts are effectively removed in this manner, and usually not worth the cost.

  • Chemicals- Unlike using chemicals to control pests, chemicals have not been very effective in controlling house mites.

More on House Mites

Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: January 7, 2011. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

Asthma. Arlian LG, Neal JS, Morgan MS, Vyszenski-Moher DL, Rapp CM, Alexander AK. Lowering humidity in homes is a practical way to control house dust mites and their allergens in homes in temperate climates. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;107:99-104

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consumer Information. Accessed: January 7, 2011. Asthma: General Information

German J, Harper M. Environmental Control of Allergic Diseases. Am Fam Physician 2002;66:421-6,429-30.

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