Dust Mites: Everything You Might Not Want To Know!!!

Dust Mites: Everything You Might Not Want To Know!
(Updated for July 2024)

Just thinking of these dust mites living in your pillow by the millions, eating your dead skin and hair is enough to make you sick (literally and figuratively). The are a major cause of asthma and allergies; especially in vulnerable individuals, such as children and the elderly. According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, approximately 10 percent of Americans exhibit allergic sensitivity to dust mites. The American Lung Associations tells us "Dust mites are not parasites; they don't bite, sting or burrow into our bodies. The harmful allergen they create comes from their fecal pellets and body fragments. Dust mites are nearly everywhere; roughly four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergen in at least one bed." Don't you feel better now, know they don't bite or sting; and your allergic reaction is only due to burying your face in a pillow full of their feces? And you may feel better knowing, according to WebMD, that "Dust mites like to eat dead skin from pets and humans. You probably shed enough skin a day to feed a million dust mites."

In the spring, pollen aggravates allergies, and dustmite infestations make it worse. 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. And with dustmites at their multiplying peak during warm, wet weather, read on to find out what you can do about dust mites!

    What are dust mites?

    House dust mites are microscope bugs that primarily live on dead skin cells regularly shed from humans and their animal pets. Dust mites are generally harmless to most people. They don't carry diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics and others who are allergic to their feces. People sometimes confuse dustmites with bed bugs. See this page about bed bugs and if you are going to a hotel or motel, check this page for tips specific to staying in hotels and motels.

    Skin cells and scales, commonly called dander, are often concentrated in lounging areas, mattresses, frequently used furniture and associated carpeted areas, often harbor large numbers of these microscopic mites. Since the average human sloughs off 1/3 ounce (10 grams) of dead skin a week. That gives dust mites a lot to eat. Cats and dogs create far more dander for dust mites to eat.

    A typical mattress can contain tens of thousands of dust mites. Sick yet? Nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet. Ready to convince your spouse to start bathing regularly? Did you know a single dust mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day, each containing a protein to which many people are allergic. Yuck! The proteins in that combination of feces and shed skin are what cause allergic reactions in humans. Depending on the person and exposure, reactions can range from itchy eyes to asthma attacks. And finally, unlike other types of mites, house dust mites are not parasites, since they only eat dead tissue. Gross, but true.

    Common Name Scientific Name
    North American House Dust Mite Dermatophagoides farinae Hughes
    European House Dust Mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart)

    Where do they live?

    Beds are a prime habitat (where 1/3 of life occurs). A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. (Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.) Mites prefer warm, moist surroundings such as the inside of a mattress when someone is on it. A favorite food is dander (both human and animal skin flakes). Humans shed about 1/5 ounce of dander (dead skin) each week. About 80 percent of the material seen floating in a sunbeam is actually skin flakes. Also, bedroom carpeting and household upholstery support high mite populations.

    The University of Manchester performed a 2005 medical study of pillows that found up to 16 species of fungi in a single pillow. They tested feather and synthetic pillows in a range of ages, finding thousands of spores of fungus per gram of pillow ; more than is found on an average used toothbrush.

    And just when you thought they were confined to your home and bedroom, there is a news story in USA Today in which Jill Holdsworth is an infection preventionist and president of the DC Metro Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology says the car can be another place where dust mites live and a very big place to pass bacteria back and forth if you are not careful, saying "The No. 1 hot spots would be anywhere that you touch with your hands," Holdsworth said. These areas include the steering wheel, radio, gear shift, cup holders and car seats."

    Are they harmful? What do they do?

    For most people, while they are disgusting, house dust mites are not actually harmful. However, the medical significance of house dust mites arises because their microscopic cast skins and feces are a major constituent of house dust that induces allergic reactions in some individuals. There is a genetic predisposition to dust mite allergies, but like many allergies it can also develop over time.According to Darryl C. Zeldin, acting director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, in the Wall Street Journal (January 5, 2010, Page D2), 18% to 30% of Americans are allergic to dust mites' waste products, and almost 50% of American homes have allergen levels that are high enough to cause sensitivity in people who were nt previously allergic to dustmites. In other words, high levels of dust mites and their wastes, can cause previously non-allergic people to develop an allergy. In addition to producing allergic reactions, dust mites can also cause nasal polyps growths within the nose (see this article at 24 Medica). The constituents of house dust are show in the following figure:

    Organisms in household dust:



    House Dust*

    ash, cigarette; ash, incinerator; combustion products; fiber, synthetic textile; fibers: wool, cotton, paper and silk; fingernail filings; food crumbs; glass particles; glue; graphite; hair, human and animal; insect fragments; oil soot; paint chips; plant parts; pollen; polymer foam particles; salt and sugar crystals; skin scales, humans; skin scales, pets; soil; spores, fungal; stone particles; tobacco; wood shavings *Drawn primarily from van Bronswijk, 1981.

    For those individuals, inhaling the house dust allergen triggers rhinitis allergica or bronchial asthma. People with allergies to house dust usually also have allergic reactions to house dust mite fecal material and cast skins. Studies have shown that the most potent house dust allergens can be extracted from the feces produced by dust mites. Other important allergen-producing organisms that are found in house dust are found in Figure 1. The rest of this fact sheet, based on Chapter 10, "Mites," in Common-Sense Pest Control by Olkowski, Daar and Olkowski, will discuss biology of dust mites and will emphasize non-chemical control tactics. An allergist, a medical doctor specially trained to treat allergies, should be consulted for proper diagnosis and treatment of allergies.

    One of the most strongly allergenic materials found indoors is house dust, often heavily contaminated with the fecal pellets and cast skins of House Dust Mites. Estimates are that dust mites may be a factor in 50 to 80 percent of asthmatics, as well as in countless cases of eczema, hay fever and other allergic ailments. Common causes of allergy include house dust mites, cat dander, cockroach droppings and grass pollen. Symptoms are usually respiratory in nature (sneezing, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, etc.), usually NOT A RASH. However, there are reports of a red rash around the neck. Other allergic reactions may include headaches, fatigue and depression.

    The wheeze-inducing proteins are digestive juices from the mite gut which are quite potent. An exposure to the mites in the first, crucial year of life can trigger a lifelong allergy. There is no cure, only prevention. One must control house dust mite levels.

    Beds are a prime habitat (where 1/3 of life occurs). A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. (Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.) Mites prefer warm, moist surroundings such as the inside of a mattress when someone is on it. A favorite food is dander (both human and animal skin flakes). Humans shed about 1/5 ounce of dander (dead skin) each week. About 80 percent of the material seen floating in a sunbeam is actually skin flakes. Also, bedroom carpeting and household upholstery support high mite populations.

    How to Recognize the Symptoms of Allergies to Dust Mites

    The protein substances in the dust mite feces produces antibodies in humans who are allergic when these are inhaled or touch the skin. These antibodies cause the release of histamines which causes to nasal congestion, swelling and irritation of the upper respiratory passages. The Mayo Clinic, WebMD and NIH collectively provide this list of typical symptoms of an allergy to dust mites; You may experience all or just some of them:

    • Hay fever,
    • Watering eyes,
    • Runny nose,
    • Sneezing,
    • Asthma, difficulty in breathing,
    • Infantile eczema
    • Itchy, red or watery eyes
    • Nasal congestion
    • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
    • Postnasal drip
    • Cough
    • Facial pressure and pain
    • Frequent awakening
    • Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
    • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

    A doctor can use skin tests and blood tests to confirm a suspected dust mite allergy. In a news story in the New York Times (March 4, 2011) Dr. Diego Saporta, an otolaryngologist in Elizabeth, N.J., who specializes in allergy management., says to ask: Do I have persistent sniffles and sinus headaches? Do I often wake up with scratchy eyes? Do I sneeze repeatedly first thing in the morning? "Sometimes symptoms are obvious, but sometimes they are subtle," said Dr. Saporta says. "Your only symptom might be chronic nasal congestion."

    What else makes the symptoms worse?

    • Poor ventilation
    • High humidity
    • High temperatures (above 70 F / 20 C)
    • Indoor air pollution such as tobacco smoke or car fumes.
    • Walking over a rug, sitting down in a chair, or shakings the bed clothes, makes the dried dust mite feces become airborne, making allergic person's symptoms worse.


    House dust mites, are too small to be visible to the naked eye; they are only 250 to 300 microns in length and have translucent bodies. It takes at least a 10X magnification to be able to correctly identify them. The adult mite's cuticle (covering) has simple striations that can be seen from both the dorsal (top) view and from the ventral (bottom) view. The ventral view of the house dust mite reveals long setae (hairs) extending from the outer margins of the body and shorter setae on the rest of the body. Through the microscope, one will see many oval-shaped mites scuttling around and over one another. There are eight hairy legs, no eyes, no antennae, a mouthpart group in front of the body (resembles head) and a tough, translucent shell, giving a "fearsome appearance."

    House Dust MiteBiology and Life Cycle

    Adult females lay up to 40 to 80 eggs singly or in small groups of three to five. After eggs hatch, a six-legged larva emerges. After the first molt, an eight-legged nymph appears. After two nymphal stages occur, an eight-legged adult emerges. The life cycle from egg to adult is about one month with the adult living an additional one to three months.

    The diet is varied with the primary food source, consisting of dander (skin scales) from humans and animals. However, needed nutrients can be provided from fish food flakes, pet food, fungi, cereals, crumbs, etc. Many mite species live in bird's nests, in barns, among stored grain, straw, etc.

    House dust mites are cosmopolitan in distribution with much of the research previously done in Europe.

    One of the major limiting factors in mite survival and population development is the availability of water for sorption. Highest mite densities occur in the humid summer months and lowest in drier winter periods. Dust mite populations are highest in humid regions and lowest in areas of high altitude and/or dry climates.

    Due to the large quantity of skin scales sloughed off daily by humans, mites have an abundant food supply. Dust mite antigen levels are measured in bed dust, floor dust, and room air samples. Detection in room air was best during cleaning and bed-making activities.dustmites feeding on your dead skin


    House dust mite presence is often suspected before they are actually seen and accurately identified. Requests for control often come from individuals who have been diagnosed by medical personnel as allergic to the house dust mite or the allergens produced.

    The presence of house dust mites can be confirmed microscopically which requires collecting samples from mattresses, couches or carpets. Also, it requires the use of a microscope with sufficient magnification and the technical ability to recognize house dust mites under the microscope. In general practice, testing is unnecessary. dustmites are extremely common in household environments. They virtually always show up in a test, so testing just adds expense. A better question than "are dust mites present?" is "How can I control or remove them?"

    What Can You Do?

    Control measures and Sanitation

    A number of researchers, like those at the University of Nebraska, have studied dust mite control and have a set of recommendations that are proven to be effective. Recommendations focus on "dust control." One must reduce the concentration of dust borne allergens in the living environment by controlling both allergen production and the dust which serves to transport it. For the bedroom environment you will want to use some or all of the following methods. We have listed them in order of practicality combined with effectiveness.:

    1. The most effective means is to enclose the mattress top and sides with a plastic cover or other dust mite impervious cover (available here, click on allergy bedding on the left in the new page), thoroughly vacuuming mattress pillows and the base of the bed. Put an airtight plastic or polyurethane cover over your mattress. This is the method recommended by Consumer Reports (see their article here). This tip is number one for a reason: it is in your bed (including the baby's crib) that you are closest to the mites and their feces and enclosing the mattress and pillows in a dust mite cover virtually eliminates the mites here. like the dustmite-proof fitted sheets. Mattresses covered with "fitted sheets" help prevent the accumulation of human skin scales on the surface. These sheets have the advantage of being waterproof, too, which helps protect your mattress from spills, babies and toddler's waste, too.

      Mattress Dustsmite-Bedbug Encasement, Queen-size SureGuard, 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic, Zippered

      Mattress Dustsmite-Bedbug Encasement, King-size SureGuard, 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic, Zippered

      Mattress Dustsmite-Bedbug Encasement, California King-size SureGuard, 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic, Zippered

      Mattress Dustsmite-Bedbug Encasement, Twin-size SureGuard, 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic, Zippered

      Mattress Dustsmite-Bedbug Encasement, Twin-XL-size SureGuard, 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic, Zippered

      Mattress Dustsmite-Bedbug Encasement, Full-size SureGuard, 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic, Zippered

      Same with comforters: look for anti-dust-mite covers built-in, like these:

      Comforter Allergy Dustmite Bed Bug Protector Breathable Hypoallergenic Cover Zippered Encasement

      Dust Mite and Allergen-Proof Comforter Cover; Microfiber
    2. Reduce temperature and humidity: Dust mites love warm, humid conditions, above 70 F (21 C) and 50% or greater humidity.
      Keep the thermostat in the house below 70 degrees.
      The National Institute of Health says an effective control of mites would require the maintenance of relative humidity's below 50 percent. Here is a range of dehumidifiers from a large basement or ground floor model, to a small room model. The big ones are pricey, but they last for many, many years. (we have one in the office that is 20 years old!)

      120 Pint Energy Star Home Dehumidifier for Space Up to 6000 Sq.Ft with Drain Hose, Water Tank & Handles

      80 Pint Energy Star Dehumidifier for Spaces up to 5,000 Sq.Ft with Drain Hose and 1.14Gal Water Tank

      Dehumidifiers for small rooms & bedrooms, 800 sq ft Quiet with Reusable Filter and Ionizer,with Drain Hose

      155 Pints Large Dehumidifier for Space up to 8000 Sq. Ft with 6.56ft Drain Hose and 1.32 Gal Water Tank, Washable Filter, Ideal for Large Space, Warehouse

      A study (Feb 2005) by Kingston University (London UK) shows that simply by leaving your bed unmade each morning, with the sheets to be exposed to the air, allows the sheets to dry out, and substantially reduces the numbers of dust mites. Now, you have a legitimate reason not to make your bed!
      Some researchers feel it is important to focus on decreasing indoor humidity, especially during the winter period to reduce dust mite populations. One might forsake humidifier use during winter periods (or limit it to the bedroom only at night, then ventilate the room during the day). It will help to use dehumidifiers during high-humidity periods, or use central air conditioning. So if you use a humidifier in the winter, adjust it to produce 35% to 45% humidity. Some humidifiers have this control built in; with others, you'll need a humidity gauge (usually sold with a thermometer at Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.). And generally, homes that have their air conditioners on constantly in the summer and dry heat in the winter have lower mite counts than non-air conditioned homes.
    3. Wash your sheets, pillows and blankets in very hot water. Wash the sheets and blankets at least every two weeks. Wash your pillow every week or put a dust mite-proof cover (available here) on it and wash once per year. Your pillowcase goes over the dust mite cover. How hot is hot? The water used to wash your sheets and blankets should be at least 130 F (54 C). Set your washing machine to it's hottest setting. If the water doesn't seem to be coming out hot, you may want to check your hot water heater - you may not realize that most household hot water heaters have a knob that can adjust the temperature of the water it produces. For fabrics that may not be washed in hot water; just pop it into the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to kill dust mites.
      And for those who travel and stay in hotels (or with less hygienic friends and family): Take a dust mite impervious cover (available here), along for when you stay at hotels - just think how disgusting their pillows must be!
    4. Use Synthetic fabrics: Replace feather and down pillows with those having synthetic fillings. Replace woolen blankets with nylon or cotton cellulose ones. And don't forget the children's stuffed animals: be sure to get washable stuffed animals in the future! Memory foam mattress manufacturers claim that their mattresses create an environment that is unfavorable to dust mites. Even so, an encasement (dust mite impervious cover) is still advised, also because it can stop bedbugs (which are a rapidly growing problem)
    5. Clean weekly: Weekly change pillowcases, sheets, and under blankets, and vacuum the bed base and around the covered mattress. Clean flooring: Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth or broom, since this just stirs up mite allergens. Of course, you want to use a vacuum cleaner that has HEPA filtration built in, otherwise you are making things worse, by blowing the dust mite dander up into the air!  Some even have UV sterilization built-in. Look at vacuum cleaners like these:

      Kenmore DU5080 Bagless Upright Vacuum Lift Cleaner 2-Motor Power Suction with HEPA Filter, 3-in-1 Combination Tool, Pet Handi-Mate for Carpet, Hard Floors

      Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum with Large Dust Cup Capacity, HEPA Filter, Swivel Steering, Upholstery Tool and Crevice Tool

      Dyson Ball Animal 2 Upright Corded Vacuum Cleaner: HEPA Filter, Height Adjustment, Self-Adjusting Cleaner Head, Telescoping Handle/a>

      Eureka Canister Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner for Carpets and Hard Floors, NEN170 with hepa Filter and 4 Bags

      Shark NV352 Navigator Lift Away Upright Vacuum, Hepa Filter, Anti-Allergen Technology, Swivel Steering, Ideal for Carpet, Stairs, & Bare Floors, with Wide Upholstery & Crevice Tools
    6. Clean daily:
      If your allergies are severe, you may want to daily damp dust the plastic mattress cover.
    7. Frequently wash all bedding
      (blankets, mattress pads and comforters) in hot water (130 degrees F [or 60 C] weekly). Cold and warm water won't kill mites. Also wash curtains.
    8. Steam clean surfaces and materials that cannot put put through the washing machine: Using pure steam dissolves dirt and grime, while removing germs and bacteria from the surfaces that you're cleaning. Steam is also an economical and environmentally friendly thing to do. There is no longer the need to use harsh and toxic chemicals. It is also a great way to kill dust mites and bed bugs. See this steam cleaner: New Vapamore MR100 Primo Steam Cleaner.
      Handheld Allergen Vacuum Cleaner with UV Sanitizing and Heating for Allergies and Pet, Kills Mite, Virus, Molds, True HEPA with Powerful Suction removes Hair, Dander, Pollen, Dust,
    9. Remove carpeting and install laminate flooring, wood, tile, linoleum, or vinyl floor covering. Remove cloth drapes and blinds. (If you have carpet, vacuum every day.) Vacuuming your carpets and upholstery every week can help. See the caution about vacuuming below under tips. Vacuums with high-efficiency filters pick up more dust mites, but even standard vacuums work well enough, as long as you open windows to bring in fresh air afterwards (vacuums without HEPA filters tend to blow the dustmite dander up into the air!). Steam mops are an excellent option for hardwood and tile floors as there is sterilization built-in and no dust created:
    10. Freezing and sunlight kills mites but does not remove their residue. In addition to freezing temperatures and washing items in temperatures greater than 130 degrees F, extended exposure to sunlight, and low levels of humidity also destroy the mites.  UV lights can help kill various germs and kills them on exposed surfaces.
    11. Children's soft cloth toys: Regularly place soft toys in the freezer for 24 hours before you wash them, or wash them in hot water. Removing them, or at least reducing the numbers of them on the beds, will help, too.
    12. Air Purifiers: While it is better to stop the dust mites at the source, reducing the dust levels in the air is a good secondary measure. Some pest control firms sell air purifiers to eliminate the food source of house dust mites. Although ozone air purifiers emit a low level of ozone (activated oxygen) that attaches to fungus, mold, and bacteria on skin flakes, EHSO does not recommend ozone generators (neither does the US Food and Drug Administration). The same ozone that is oxidizes the dust mites is bad for your health. Air purifiers that use HEPA filtration are more effective and safe to use. Various types of air purifiers can be attached to the central air return to decrease irritants. Most filters remove 50 to 70 percent of material. HEPA filters will remove up to 99 percent of the material; not just dust mite feces, but also all types of other allergens, like animal dander, dust, pollen, cockroach feces, etc...
      See this page for information about selecting an air purifier.

    13. PuroAir HEPA 14 Air Purifier for Home - Covers 1,115 Sq Ft - Air Purifier for Allergies - For Large Rooms - Filters Up To 99.99% of Pet Dander, Smoke, Allergens, Dust, Odors, Mold

      Large Room Up to 1900 Ft² in 1 Hr with Washable Filters, Air Quality Monitor, Smart WiFi, HEPA Filter Captures Allergies, Pet Hair, Smoke, Pollen in Bedroom

      Nuwave Whole House Air Purifiers, Oxypure Smart Air Purifier with 5 Stage Tower Structure Air Filter, Air Quality & Odor Sensors, Sleep Mode for Bedroom, Remove 99.99% of Dust, Smoke, Pollen, Allergen

      Kenmore PM3020 Air Purifiers with H13 True HEPA Filter, Covers Up to 1500 Sq.Foot, 24db SilentClean 3-Stage HEPA Filtration System, 5 Speeds for Home Large Room, Kitchens & Bedroom

      Air Purifiers for Home Large Room Bedroom Up to 1110 Ft² with Air Quality and Light Sensors, Smart WiFi, Washable Filters, HEPA Filter for Pets, Allergy, Dust
    14. Furnace Air Filters: Clean or replace the air filters on your furnace or air conditioner at least once a month. Filters that are rated to trap allergens are obviously more effective than plain spun glass.

    Services to Kill Dust Mites and Clean Mattresses?

    There are companies offering a service, using steam or ultraviolet light, to kill dust mites in mattresses and remove them. The Wall Street Journal (January 5, 2010, Page D2) had an article by Laura Johnnes titled "Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-Mite Allergies?" Their conclusion, including that of Dr. Peyton Eggleston, a pediatric allergist and professor at Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital in Baltimore, was that there isn't any scientific research or evidence to back up the service companies claims, and that the dust mites would probably return to previous levels within a month or two. This substantiates the approaches above, including encasements (see number 1, above). A cleaning might make sense if the mattress is fairly new (1 to 3 years) and you encase it after the cleaning.

    Multiple Allergies

    It should also be noted that people are rarely allergic to only dust mites. When a person has an allergy to dust mites, they are usually also allergic to other allergens. In a report on WebMD (April 2008), Allergist Jonathan A. Bernstein, MD, of the University of Cincinnati says, "You have to recognize that people can be sensitive to multiple allergens -- as well as to non-allergic triggers such as odorants, irritating chemicals, tobacco smoke, mildew, and things of that nature, so these studies with just one or even two or three interventions are fraught with limitations. Just to target dust mites and then to say these interventions don't work is out of context with patients' real lives."

    In that WebMD article, which initially implies that dust mite prevention methods are ineffective, the researchers insist that "reducing allergens in the home and in the office will help patients suffering from dust-mite allergy and asthma." They say reducing dust mites is a good place to start. In other words, if you use methods that

    • reduce dust mite populations,
    • trap dust in HEPA filter air purifiers,
    • reduce humidity, which allows dustmites, molds, and other allergens to flourish,
    • reduce surfaces that collect allergens (curtains, carpets, etc.), and

      Handheld Allergen Vacuum Cleaner with UV Sanitizing and Heating for Allergies and Pet, Kills Mite, Virus, Molds, True HEPA with Powerful Suction removes Hair, Dander, Pollen, Dust,
      This bottle ofdust mite laundry detergent is good for 64 washes.

    • Chemical Control
      No pesticides are currently labeled for house dust mites. However, two non-pesticide products, Acarosan and Allergy Control Solution are available for treatment of house dust mites and their allergens. The active ingredient of each is benzyl benzoate and tannic acid. Benzoic acid esters, such as benzyl benzoate, are very effective acaricides in both laboratory and field evaluations. Health risks appear to be slight as benzoates are rapidly metabolized in the body to hippuric acid, which is excreted in the urine. Most acaricidal studies for house dust mite control have been done in Europe. Before pesticide recommendations are made in the United States, approval will be needed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For additional information, telephone 1-800-7ASTHMA. ( 800-727-8462)


    1. Get dustmite proof bedding covers, special laundry detergent, pillow cases, etc.. This is one of our partners, and one of the few places we've found that carries a range of dustmite proof covers and other materials:

    2. Keep temperature under 70 and humidity levels below 50 percent. Dust mites as well as other allergens thrive on high humidity. Homes with air conditioning constantly have lower mite counts then non-air conditioned homes. This can be accomplished with a couple of relatively inexpensive and long-lasting dehumidifiers. These have the advantage of making the air more comfortable in the summer, reducing the need for air conditioning.
    3. Wash bedding, rugs, children's soft toys and pet's bedding frequently
      "Frequently" means at least every two weeks in very hot water. Don't be like these Brits: according to a news story in the Daily Mail, a poll suggests that "more than half a million Britons only wash their sheets three times a year, allowing some 10 million bugs and dust mites to settle in for a night cap alongside them."
    4. Keep the house clean Dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and the allergy causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated through regular cleaning.
    5. Use a good HEPA vacuum. Most non-HEPA vacuums actually cause the problem to worsen because the filter bags in most models are not efficient and cause allergen levels to rise. A good HEPA vacuum, like the Hoover Wind Tunnel series will pick up at least some dust mites and their eggs and trap all it picks up.
      Some vacuums are now being designed to kill dust mites. Halo Technologies says its uprights, including the $400 UVX, kill dust mites, flea eggs, and germs using UV light. Consumer Reports hasn't yet tested those claims because this model wasn't very good at the basic tasks of cleaning carpets and picking up pet hair. Watch here for future developments.
    6. Use a good air filter to remove airborne allergans - Most store bought air filters an not capable of trapping mites and their by-products. One should also look for a filter that has anti-microbial properties, to prevent the filter from becoming a breeding ground for allergens. Filters that call themselves "washable" should be avoided because it just is not possible to wash 100% of the biological contaminants out of them and they will also become a breeding ground. The Honeywell brand with inexpensive replaceable prefilters and long-lasting HEPA filters work well for us.

    Latest Dust Mite News

    • February 12, 2020 - Allergen Immunotherapy In House Dust Mite-Driven Allergic Asthma: EAACI Guidelines -
      Dr. Kamal Kant KohliBy Dr. Kamal Kant Kohli - House dust mite (HDM) subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) is recommended for children and adults with controlled HDM‐driven allergic asthma as an add‐on treatment to regular therapy to decrease symptoms and medication use.
    • October 29, 2016 - Allergic and non-allergic dust mite proteins -
      An NIEHS study provided new information about the characteristics of dust mite proteins that may help researchers understand the development of dust mite allergy and assist in the design of better allergy therapies.
    • Feb. 11, 2015 - U.S. News and World Report - Indoor Allergies: the Moldy Truth: Is your home a refuge from allergies, or the source? , Household dust contains a mixture of potential allergy triggers � notably dust mites. The most common cause of indoor allergies, dust mites love carpeting, pillows, mattresses and upholstered furniture.
    • March 8, 2013 - Science Daily - Genetic Study of House Dust Mites Demonstrates Reversible Evolution - In evolutionary biology, there is a deeply rooted supposition that you can't go home again: Once an organism has evolved specialized traits, it can't return to the lifestyle of its ancestors. This story also appeared in Newsweek.
    • Feb. 15, 2012, Science Daily, New Molecule Discovered in Fight Against Allergy - Scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered a new molecule that could offer the hope of new treatments for people allergic to the house dust mite.
    • March 8, 2011 - CBS News - Allergy-proof your home to sniffle less - A little preparation for upcoming spring allergy season could help you cut down on your suffering. "/...if you're one of the 20 million people who are allergic to them, make sure you take steps to clean. You'll want to eliminate dust mites and the dead skin cells they eat by washing bedding in hot water at least once a week. Turn up the water heater to a dust mite-killing 130 degrees before you wash, and turn it back down afterward. Another good option is using an anti-allergy mattress wrap, which can keep mite waste from contaminating your air. You'll also want to keep an eye on the pillows -- two years is the magic number when it comes to pillows. To reduce the onset of a major allergy attack and prolong the life of your pillows, have them dry-cleaned or wash them in boiling water."
    • March 4, 2011. New York Times - Who Should Worry About Dust Mites (and Who Shouldn't), by Lesley Alderman
    • December 21, 2010 - BBC, "Earth News" Section - Dust mites "swarm" around houses, migrating as a group in search of moisture, according to a new study. The collective movement happens when mites leave a dry area in search of higher humidity - the greatest source of which in a house is its human occupants. Mites gain nutrients from dead skin but also depend on moist air for survival. "We expected the mites to move to areas of higher humidity, because they are dependent on air moisture to survive," said co-author Anne-Catherine Mailleux. "However, the fact that they attract each other and prefer to move together rather than independently from one another was an important finding." Researchers knew that house dust mites were unable to drink and depended on moisture in the air to survive.
    • September 8, 2010 - Reuters - Amy Norton - Nasal allergies may affect infants too
    • June 2009 - Can carpet steam cleaners and other steamers kills dust mites? This article claims they can.
    • April 17, 2008 - MS-NBC News - In war against dust mites, there's no winning; Review reveals pricey products, best efforts no help for asthma sufferers JoNel Aleccia, Health writer, msnbc.com
    • March 3, 2008: Dust mites and cockroach feces and other gens may make it harder for eczema-damaged skin to heal, news reports say South Korean researchers report. Reported in WebMD and Reuters, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers said it was important, especially for people with eczema, to protect themselves from such microscopic bugs and filth. Dust mite and cockroach allergens are particles of feces, saliva and other matter found on the bodies of these insects.
    • February 1, 2008: Dust Mite Resistant Car Seat Covers - JapanToday.com reports that Toyota has announced the development of the world's first car seat fabric agent that stops 98% of dust mites from becoming active. Toyota intends to begin offering this new treatment on vehicles sold in Japan in the next few years.

    News Related to Dust Mites

    News and Links for more information

    Still not feeling queasy? Well, follow the links below for more information, but not near dinner (or bed) time!


    1. University of Nebraska Lincoln - UNL Extension in Lancaster County, Insects, Spiders, Mice and More
    2. US EPA - Dust mites
    3. The National Institute of Health, NIH,
    4. WebMD, Dust Allergies
    5. American Lung Association, "Dust Mites and Dust"
    6. Ohio State University (much of the scientific background comes from this study)
    7. "Does a mattress double its weight due to dust mites and their debris?". The Straight Dope.Adams, Cecil (April 7, 2000).
    8. "House dust mite allergen in pillows". British Medical Journal (united Kingdom: British Medical Association) (October 12 1996).
    9. "Hotter is better for removing allergens in laundry". American Thoracic Society. May 20, 2007. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-05/ats-hib051407.php.
    10. "Ten Minutes in a Clothes Dryer Kills All Mites in Blankets". Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 97: 423, J. D. Miller, A. Miller (January 1996).