You’ve come across suggestions like placing stuffed toys into freezers to kill dust mites. Still, is sending dust mites into a freezing cold environment a sure way to destroy them?
Are you sure that when you remove the stuffed teddy from the freezer on the next day, all the mites are dead?
The Ideal Temperature For Dust Mites
It is known that dust mites thrive between 20°C – 25°C (68°F- 77°F). Within this range, the mites have no breeding problems, provided that the humidity is at the right level, and food is in abundance.
When the temperature increases, dust mites are getting into a discomfort zone, and at 55°C (131°F), they are killed. If the mites are destroyed with heat, surely the same must apply for cold? Or does it?
What Science Says About Killing Dust Mites With Cold
To know for sure if freezing the mites is effective, you’ll need to revisit past scientific studies.
A study conducted by Wright State University exposed female dust mites to different freezing temperatures, and the results are quite interesting.
At -4°C, most of the female mites survived and could lay eggs as usual. The test is done to indicate the mite’s survivability in the natural environment.
However, 50% of the mites died when exposed to -15°C for 24 hours. Of those that survived, none could produce eggs, and they eventually die after 10-15 days of room temperature.
The study concludes that freezing dust mites at -15°C for 48 hours is sure to kill them.
This finding correlates with another study that sought the relations between winter and mites population. By studying the level of Der P 1 allergen in mattresses, researchers conclude that dust mites allergen drops up to four times lower in winter.
Can Cold Denature Dust Mite Allergen?
Freezer temperature is usually set at -18°C, which is beneath the temperature explored in the study. So, it’s safe to claim that all mites will be killed if exposed to the extreme cold for a couple of days.
However, freezing does nothing to denature the mite’s allergen. The allergen, which is a type of protein that triggers allergies remain active. It can be destroyed by heat but not cold.
Check out this article on other ways to remove dust mites from stuffed toys.
Therefore, you’ll still need to remove the allergen by vacuuming. If the allergen is not removed, there’s a chance that you’ll still be exposed and develop allergic symptoms.
While the effect is not immediate, freezing mites-filled items is a good alternative than using heat. Some items can’t be washed in high temperature, or easily damaged when exposed to heat.
Cold, is a slow but sure dust mite killer, but you’ll need to be mindful of the still-active allergen.