Where Do Dust Mites Live?

person changing a bed sheet

Dust mites are microscopic insects too small to see with the naked eye that set up light housekeeping in homes across most areas of the United States. They feed on our dead skin cells, which naturally shed from our body (and our pets) throughout the day. While harmless, per se (they do not bite like bed bugs), dust mites can trigger allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals if their concentrations are high enough.

If you have pets, you’re more at risk of dust mites invading your house. Not only do your pets provide pet dander (dead skin cells) for the mites to feed on, your furry friends can also transport them around the house in their fur, or bring them in from outside.

Sneezing outside of allergy season? There may be something hiding in your home.

Since they feed on dead skin that people shed (gross, we know, but everyone does it!), you’ll find the highest concentrations in high-use areas — carpets, area rugs, pillows, mattresses, and couches are common dust mite hideouts. Unlike pet allergens, dust mites don’t remain airborne for very long, if disturbed they quickly settle.

But remember, just because you have dust mites doesn’t mean your house is infested or unclean. Anyone can have some amount of dust mites, regardless of how clean their home is. Only homes in dry, arid climates or at high altitudes will be completely free of dust mites.

How Can I Tell If I Have a Dust Mite Problem?

Since dust mites are so small, you’ll need to buy a dust mite test kit to measure dust mite concentrations to determine if you have excessive populations. Prices range from $40 – $100 and involve using your vacuum to collect a sample and either sending the sample to a labor using an at-home kit to determine results.

Getting Rid of Dust Mites

Dust mites prefer a temperature above 70 degrees with 70 – 80% humidity. This is usually about where our homes are, which is why they love it inside. So, your best line of defense against dust mites (and most natural) is extreme heat or cold.

  • Dry any suspect items in the dryer on high for about 20 minutes to kill mites. Washing your linens in very hot water (+130°) at least once a week will also kill dust mites.
  • You can also kill dust mites by moving infested items to a cold environment for at least 24 hours. Do you suspect your favorite couch might be a dust mite hotel? Put it outside in cold weather for a day.
  • Vacuuming can be helpful, but can’t get rid of dust mites entirely. They like to hide deep in the fabrics away from light. Vacuuming will still remove some mites and the dead skin they feed on.
  • There are also a variety of commercial powders and pesticides to use for dust mite control if your dust mites are out of control. Through preventative measures and keeping a dust-free home, you shouldn’t need to resort to this.

Dust Mite Prevention

Regular cleaning of upholstery, carpets, and linens will help reduce and control dust mite populations. Keep rooms uncluttered and dust free. Also, buying special dust mite covers for pillows and mattresses can prevent mites from getting comfortable by creating an impenetrable barrier so they can’t lay eggs or spread.

Dust mites also love moisture. Instead of making your bed right after you wake up, air your sheets out. Once they are completely dry, then you can go ahead and make your bed. There are also air filters that can keep dust mites from spreading. Special HEPA air filters in your HVAC system, on your vacuum cleaner and portable air filter unit effectively trap dust, skin cells and mites. Be sure to change these filters often if you’re experiencing dust mite allergy symptoms.

If you’re worried about dust mites becoming a problem in your home, Molly Maid can help. Vacuuming is part of our professional home cleaning services. If done regularly, it can help prevent the spread of dust mites and reduce allergy symptoms. Please contact your local Molly Maid or call us today for a free estimate! It’s the first step you can take to stop dust mites from spreading throughout your home!