We understand you have a hectic schedule getting – ready for work, sending the children off to school, and your clock work begins. You come back home and are too tired to even make dinner. So, you order in. Where is the time for laundry, leave alone washing your sheets? To add to your woes, you are down with the allergies and everyone is sniffling at home. You think it’s ok to push it to the next week. But think again! Do you know what could be lurking in your cozy bedroom? Dust mites in bed!
Although bed mites are relatively harmless to people, they can carry small foreign proteins that are often referred to as allergens. Allergens don’t cause diseases, however they can cause severe allergic reactions in some people by triggering their immune system to over act (1).
Dust mites vs. Bed bug mites
Most of us are unaware and invariably blame the season for our allergies. That’s not always the case. Most allergies begin and are carried from home. It’s the mighty bed mite or as many call it – the dust mite.
Don’t confuse them with bed bugs. Yes, both can be found on your bed, furnishings, and soft cling on material. But they are quite different. Bed bugs are actually insects. They leech on to pets and humans at home and feed on their blood. They are probably the size of an apple seed and can be easily spotted. Bed mites are however termed as arachnids. Can you see dust mites? No, these 8-legged scavengers are not visible to the naked eye. Unlike bed bugs, bed mites don’t feed on blood. Diseases caused by bed mites are due to the composition of their left behind skin and feces. These enzymes are allergic to humans and pets because they can easily get into the blood stream and cause havoc.
Your bed should be a place for sleeping and rejuvenating for the following day and not a playground for scavengers. Shocked! Yes, unwashed sheets and untreated bedding is probably the source of all your troubles. Your unwashed sheets and beddings are infested with mangy bed bugs or mites. Thousands of mites could exist on even the tiniest of areas. For instance, a square meter of carpet could be infested by 100,000 mites.
There Could Be Some Bed Mites in Bed – Symptoms You Can’t Ignore
Bed mites are scavengers. They dwell and thrive in dark moist areas. The life cycle of a mite is about 6 weeks. A single mite may not survive, but a colony grows strong and fast where the atmosphere is conducive.
Most people are under the misconception that bed mites bite. These creatures don’t harm humans, unless their bodies are ingested into our lungs. The digestive function of these mites releases certain enzymes (2), which in turn cause allergic reactions that cause asthma. Also, the enzymes secreted by mites on dust particles easily come in contact with any living organism and get into the blood stream, causing allergies like rashes, upper respiratory problems, asthma, itching nose, redness, scratchy throat, conjunctivitis, eczema, apart from symptoms of waxy gluey ear wax – causing difficulty in hearing, and flu like symptoms. If you notice some of the above symptoms on a regular basis when you get off bed each morning, you probably have bed mites.
Are there any home remedies to get the dust mites out of the mattress?
Yes. For one, make sure you keep your drapes open and let sunlight in during the day. Don’t procrastinate!
20 natural home remedies to remove bed mites naturally:
1. Wash regularly
Our body sheds thousands of dead cells every day. We spend at least 8 hours a day in bed. You can imagine the number of dead cells we leave behind for mites to feed on. Make a simple commitment. Wash your sheets, pillow and duvet covers at least once in two weeks. Make sure you hot dry them. In regions where a hot dryer is not used, simple sun-drying is great. The heat or the ultraviolet rays from the sun will kill the mites and the wash cycle will wash away the allergens deposited in the fabric. Clean sheets smell good and put you to sleep instantly.
2. Don’t make your bed as soon as you wake up
It’s probably a good idea to wait a bit and let the sheets and pillows air out. Your bed is warm and moist with your body heat. Covering it right away would trap heat and moisture, making it an ideal breeding ground for dust mites.
3. Get rid of unnecessary carpeting in the bedrooms
Carpets are dust magnets. They make great hiding places for bed mites. Instead of adding to your list of cleaning chores, get rid of them. Keep your floors dusted and mopped with an antibacterial floor cleaner. This will prevent the infestation of bed mites and their droppings.
4. Invest in a dehumidifier
Reasonable priced room dehumidifiers are available online. Buy one to remove excessive moisture from your bedroom. Dry air will prevent the dust mites from feeding on the enzyme secreted dead particles and feces. This will also keep your room free from allergens.
5. If you can’t beat them freeze them
Mites also cling on to soft surfaces like socks, furry toys, and soft furnishings. Your baby has her favorite stuffed toy and she wants to carry it with her everywhere. You can’t wash it, as it could get frayed or out of shape. So, how do you kill these bed mites? Easy breezy! Freeze it. Soft toys or other unwashable soft items can be put in a plastic bag and stuck in a freezer. This will kill the mangy mites. But you will have to vacuum it well to get rid of the allergens, as freezing does not get rid of allergens.
6. Suck it up
Bed vacuum, with a powerful suction vacuum cleaner, is a good place to start. Note that, although a vacuuming session can get rid of some of the mites, most mites are so small that they can burrow deep into your mattresses. These creatures have powerful hooks and suckers in their legs which help them cling very strongly to most surfaces.
7. Just chill
Lower the temperature and humidity around your house. Bed mites hate it when it is cold. They thrive in warmth and moisture. By turning down the air-conditioner you will not only dry up the room, but also make them inactive.
8. Pick up that duster
Dust your house regularly. A dirty home will probably have dust mites everywhere. Mites can hop on to your clothes when you sit on your undusted furniture or sofas. So, dust your house regularly. Keeping your home dust free not only makes it brighter; it also keeps the mites and infesting allergens away.
9. Dust wooden surfaces
Dust the wooden surfaces in and around your bed with a moist cloth or a dusting spray. You will be surprised, to see how much can settle on your dusting cloth when you clean these surfaces. Bed mites not only hide in the pores of the fabric, they also thrive in the nooks and crannies of your wooden bed.
10. Clean your air filters
Be sure to clean the air ducts and filters of your air-conditioner every 6 months or so. Dust mites love these areas. Dust mite debris can spread allergens throughout your house from here.
11. Less is more
You are an avid traveler. You visit places and bring back all the fun knick-knacks you pick up during your vacation. It’s great to see and reminisce, but the more you travel the more you bring back home. Eventually, before you realize, your house is over-crowed.
A word of advice – distribute your treasure. Bring out only a few at a time and store the rest in an airtight container. When you get bored of looking at the same over and over again, you can switch with the stuff in the box. Keep your house as clutter free as possible. Don’t hoard unnecessarily. The more you hoard the more dusting you will have to do.
The same advice goes for furniture too. Don’t clutter your rooms with too much furniture. Leave room for fresh air and sunlight. Tight and over furnished places get crowded, dark and collect dust making them happy breeding ground for mites and allergens. Also, store seasonal clothes and accessories separately in separate air tight bins.
12. Don’t be a pack rat
Clear out your closets regularly. Don’t hoard on those old-fashioned boots or sweaters and kitted clothes that you may never fit or want to ever wear again. Old unused clothes stay at the back of the closet, collecting dust, inviting mites and gradually spreading to your clothes and spilling on to your bed. If you haven’t found use for it in the past year, you probably never will. Make the heart to throw or give it away.
13. Be generous not sentimental
Don’t get dwell on old memories. It will cost you. Old soft and furry toys attract so much dust. If your children have grown out of them, learn to say good bye. Get rid of old toys your kids have grown out of. You will be doing yourself and your family a favor.
14. Your house plants
Although house plants add to the ambience, moist soil and moisture given out by indoor plants is a good breeding ground for bed mites. If your allergy symptoms are severe, we recommend you get rid of these plants. If you love your plants and find it hard to do so, try cleaning the leaves with a diluted vinegar solution regularly to eliminate mites and dust allergens. Don’t ignore the innocent looking artificial plants. Moist wipe them too.
15. Use essential oils
Essential oils extracted from clove, neem and eucalyptus have great antibacterial and antifungal properties and can work well, as dust mites sprays. Spraying them on surfaces or around the house can not only be therapeutic but also can get rid of lots of unwanted organisms creeping around your home. Dilute one ounce of any of the above oils with a pint of water and moist clean the surfaces. The oils will not only give your furniture a glow, but also they will repel bed mites and other house pests as well.
16. The all-purpose house vinegar
Multi-purpose house vinegar is a handy thing to have at home. White vinegar not only makes salads great, but also its strong acidic properties help in cleaning the oily and grimy dust off surfaces. This acidic property also acts as a great bug repellent and dust mites cleaner. While it does not remove or control the infestation of mites, it is very effective for destroying the proteins left behind in dust mite feces which is the main cause for allergies in some people.
17. Invest in hypoallergenic bedding
A great way to insure the health of your family is to invest in good grade sheets and beddings made of micro porous material, waterproof or hypoallergenic material. These fabrics are tightly woven and hence act as a barrier against mite allergens. Micro-weave fabrics are the coolest and the lightest of materials available in the market today for anti-allergy bed encasings.
18. Take care pet owners
Pet owners must take extra precautions to cleanup and prevent bed mites. Pet hair is one of their favorite zones. Keep your pets in cooler places. Walk them regularly in the sun to help sun-dry their skin and fur from perspiration. Groom them regularly. Use tick sprays or dusting powder on them to keep them dry and repel dust mites. Wash your pet’s cozy rug regularly.
19. Steam clean your carpets and furniture
Getting your carpets and soft furniture steam cleaned once a year keep them looking fresh and new. Vacuuming your carpets and furniture may eliminate the allergens but not kill the mites. Getting your carpets and soft furniture cleaned with hot steam by professional cleaners regularly once a year will not only kill the mites, bit also will get rid of the allergens. Reasonably priced home steam cleaners are also available online days and are great to have around.
20. Don’t put off that laundry chore for the next week
We know… it is time consuming. You can not step out until you put it in the dryer. But remember clothes sitting in the laundry basket in your bed room collect dust and moisture making a happy playground for these mangy mites. Get the laundry chore done. Set aside 2 days for laundry in a week. Take turns with your partner or roommate. And for god’s sake please don’t forget to put those damp washed clothes for drying or into the dryer. If not, you will be opening a new can of worms.
It is impossible to avoid dust. But it is possible to avoid dust mites. The clean person is not one who runs away from dirt but the one who takes the time and effort to clean up a dirty environment. Make the time to stay healthy. Take care of yourself!
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