Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on March 25, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Dust mites are tiny organisms that feed off dust and moisture in the air. They’re so tiny, in fact, that you can barely see them with the naked eye. But despite their size, these small organisms can be highly disruptive and uncomfortable for those of us with a dust mite allergy.
They’re a common indoor allergen that can often lead to dust mite allergy symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, sneezing, and coughing. These dust mite allergens hide in mattresses, pillows, carpeting, and furniture—and can become airborne anytime someone vacuums, walks on the carpet where the dust mites are present, or disturbs the bedding where they’re lurking. If you’re unsure whether you have a dust mite allergy, the Everlywell at-home allergy test can help you find out.
Thankfully, there are a handful of ways to help prevent a dust mite allergy. From bedding to cleaning, let’s take a closer look at how you can eliminate dust mites and save yourself from experiencing allergic symptoms.
One of the easiest ways to prevent dust mite allergy symptoms is by paying attention to your bedding. Wash all bedding in hot water once a week. Invest in “mite-proof” cases for mattresses and pillows, which help seal in the allergens so you don’t have to breathe them in.
These allergen-proof bed covers often come in vinyl or plastic material and are easy to zip and unzip over mattresses and pillows (and convenient to clean when needed). Some people also suggest a mix of baking soda and a few drops of essential oil: sprinkle it on top of the mattress, allow it to soak in, then vacuum it up.
Breathing in higher-humidity air is one way to help ease uncomfortable allergy symptoms. When it comes to a dust mite allergy, be extra cautious about the level of humidity in your home. This is because dust mites can only thrive in humidity levels of about 70 to 80 percent. Find the ideal humidity level that helps reduce dust mites and relieve your dust allergy—but isn’t so high that it helps encourage the pesky dust mites to thrive. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a household humidity of 50% or less.
Dry vacuuming won’t pick up dust mites: this kind of vacuuming often stirs up dust and causes shortness of breath in people who are allergic to dust.
Instead, consider cleaning with a wet-vacuum or steam cleaning the carpet. The heat from the steam will kill dust mites and help alleviate your dust mite allergy. If you're going to use a vacuum cleaner, consider a cleaner with a HEPA filter or one with a double-thickness bag to help collect dust mite allergens.
Aim to do a deep clean of your home frequently to eliminate exposure to dust and keep it from collecting. If you have a dust allergy, wear a mask while dusting or enlist the help of a family member or friend to dust for you.
Make sure to look for items that are known dust collectors—like books and stuffed animals. Either eliminate these items from rooms you frequent or try to keep the items clean and dust-free.
Additionally, if you own a pet, you may be experiencing pet allergy symptoms that result from pet dander. Pet dander can collect which will increase your exposure to this allergen, as well as dust mites, potentially making your allergy symptoms worse. If you own a pet, vacuum often to eliminate excess dander.
If possible, go for hardwood or tile flooring to help manage your allergy to dust mites, especially in bedrooms or places you sleep. Replace wall-to-wall carpeting as well as fabrics that aren’t washable (like some types of thick curtains and window coverings where dust may gather). House dust mites often "hide" in carpet and rugs, so removing these dust-capturing home items—if they're unwashable—may help alleviate your dust mite allergy symptoms.
If you’re allergic to dust mites, learning how to control dust build-up within your home is key. Dust and dust mites can trigger allergic reactions and lead to disrupted sleep, nasal congestion, sneezing, and rashes.
When it comes to easing a dust mite allergy, a good place to start is the bedding and flooring. Eliminate dust mites by doing a deep clean and remove unnecessary fabrics and rugs. Go for items you can wipe clean (like those made of vinyl or wood) and consider doing steam cleaning to kill dust mites. Do dusting frequently and put away dust collectors. Also, if you experience spring allergies, you may want to double-down on your cleaning to reduce your symptoms.
By minimizing house dust and taking steps to reduce dust mites, you may see an improvement in your allergic reactions and symptoms. If you aren't proactive about eliminating house dust mites, you may notice an increase in your symptoms.
If you've cleaned house dust and are still experiencing signs of an allergic reaction, consider trying our at-home allergy test. Our test measures your body’s IgE reactivity to 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens. It can be difficult to self-identify which allergens are in the air today (or any day) that could be causing your symptoms, but this test can help you figure it out.
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