When dust mites are causing havoc in your life, you’ll want to get rid of every single one of them. One of the commonly suggested method is applying heat on these creatures, but does heat really kill dust mites?
Dust Mites Habitat
Chances are, there are millions of dust mites growing or hiding in your home right now. These tiny pests escaped human eyes as they measure 0.3 mm (0.01″) in size. You won’t be aware of these microscopic pests even though your bed is filled with millions of them.
Dust mites thrive in a warm and humid environment, specifically where the temperature is between 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F) and humidity of 70% to 80%. Also, dust mites feed on dead skin cells that you shed off on a daily basis.
Most households across the planet have these conditions fulfilled and it’s not surprising when dust mites are growing rapidly in your home. As a single female dust mite could lay up to 100 eggs, the population of dust mites can balloon in a short period.
Can You Kill Dust Mites With Heat?
It’s a fact that dust mites thrive in only a certain range of certain temperatures. Driving the temperature beyond dust mites habitable range can eventually destroy the pests. To be exact, exposing dust mites to a temperature of 55°C (130°F) is sufficient to kill most dust mites.
According to a scientific publication by Dr. Larry G. Arlian and Dr. Thomas A. E. Platts-Mills, tumble-drying mites-infested blankets at a temperature of 55°C for 10 minutes is sufficient to destroy the dust mites and the allergen. The same study also suggests that exposing the dust mites to 60°C of hot air for the same duration will yield similar results.
Another study involves electrical heating blankets also demonstrates positive results. The study was conducted on beds placed in room temperature of 17°C to 21 °C. The study group has electrical blankets placed over the beds and are turned on during the day. Turning on the electrical blanket results in a further increase of 12°C to 26°C.
At the end of the study, the population of dust mites in beds that are covered with electrical heating blankets decreased significantly. The dust mites are believed to be destroyed directly by the heat or have migrated to a cooler environment.
The study also suggested that using an electrical blanket, and turning it on for 1 week per month, is effective in killing dust mites in mattresses.
Using Sub-Floor Heating To Reduce Dust Mites, Does It Work?
There are also suggestions that implementing sub-floor heating to reduce the dust mites population in the house. Sub-floor heating involves placing a heating element below the floor. The element is linked to the centralize thermal control in the house.
Theoretically, the heat generated from sub-floor heating should raise the room temperature and prevent dust mites from growing. Dust mites that are directly in contact with the floor may even be dehydrated and eventually killed.
A study conducted by the University of Amsterdam, however, cites mixed-results with sub-floor heating. While there are instances where dust mites population decreases in houses installed with sub-floor heating show a decrease in dust mites, there are houses that have indifferent results.
Of course, it is arguable that sub-floor heating may be effective when applied in summer, as it further raises the temperature but backfires when used during the winter season.
Other Methods Of Killing Dust Mites With Heat
Short of taking apart the flooring in your home for sub-floor heating, are there any other ways that could kill dust mites effectively? Well, here are some methods that work, and they are less complicated.
1. Use A Steam Cleaner
A steam cleaner looks like a vacuum cleaner, except that it puts out boiling hot steam instead of sucking dust into it. Steam cleaners operate by heating up the water in a tank to boiling temperature and channeling the steam to the cleaning nozzle.
Steam cleaners are great in killing off dust mites hidden in carpets. Some steam cleaners are made to deal with dust mites or other allergens on hard floors. You’ll also find handheld steam cleaners useful in getting rid of dust mites in beddings.
Here’s one that can be used on different surfaces. It can be used as an upright or handheld steam cleaner.
2. Use A UV Vacuum Cleaner
If you’re suspecting that you have a dust mites-filled mattress, you may want to consider using a specialized UV vacuum cleaner. Unlike regular vacuum cleaners, UV vacuum cleaners are designed specifically to kill dust mites.
Besides the UV bulb, which helps to prevent the mite eggs from hatching, the vacuum cleaner also produces hot temperatures exceeding 55°C to kill dust mites. These UV vacuum cleaners are fitted with a HEPA filter, which ensures dust mites, dead or alive, are trapped in the dust bin.
Some UV vacuum cleaners, such as the popular Housmile 804, has a vibrating mechanism that beats dust mites to the surface of the mattress.
3. Increase Laundry Temperature
Regular washing has little chance in killing dust mites in bed linens, or other fabrics items. If your washing machine has a temperature control settings, turn it up to at least 55°C. That’s sufficient to destroy any dust mites in the machine.
Also, you could heat dry the clothes or bed linens in a laundry dryer to kill the dust mites. If you don’t have a laundry at home, you can still kill the mites with a steam press iron.
When dust mites are growing rampantly in your home, applying heat is one of the easiest natural ways to destroy them. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to clean up your home regularly to prevent dust mites from getting back in numbers.