Dealing with rampant dust mites infestation is infuriating. Not only do you need to deal with the blocked nose, teary eyes, throat irritations and other symptoms, but also the medical bills for the recurring symptoms. Unless you’ve found a way to kill dust mites off, they are still present in your home and it’s only a matter of time before the allergies relapse.
Quick Dust Mite Facts
Most people who thought that they are allergic to dust are in fact suffering from dust mites allergy. Dust mites are very tiny creatures that live in most of our homes. They are invisible to the bare naked eyes as each mite only measures about 0.3 mm (0.01″).
These pests thrive in a humid and moderately warm environment. Specifically, dust mites grow rapidly in humidity between 70% to 80% RH and 20°C – 25°C (68°F – 77°F). Many households offer an ideal breeding environment for dust mites.
Dust mites don’t directly trigger an allergy in humans. Instead, it is the dust mite allergen, which is a type of protein that causes our body to react by producing histamine. This results in the mentioned allergy symptoms, which could deteriorate to nasal inflammation and asthma.
5 Best Ways To Kill Dust Mites
The truth is, you can’t kill every single dust mite for good and expect that they never return again. These pests always find their way to come back and nest in mattresses, carpets or other dark and humid areas of your home.
However, there are some methods that are more lethal than others in terminating dust mites. It’s important to know which methods are more effective before you start investing in appliances or solutions to get rid of dust mites.
1. Heat (100% Kill Rate)
Dust mites are creatures that tolerate a small window of temperature and heat is the best way to take them down. By increasing the ambiance temperature to above 25°C, the growth of dust mites decreased. Increasing temperature to beyond 55°C results in total destruction of dust mites.
The fact that applying heat is the best way of killing dust mites is a well-proven fact. According to a publication by the University Of Sydney, washing mites-infested beddings with a water temperature of 55°C or above results in a 100% mortality rate for dust mites.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow have also produced the same result by using steam cleaners on a carpet. The hot vapor emitted by steam cleaners manages to kill every single living mite on the test area of a carpet.
Using heat is an incredibly efficient way of killing dust mites in your home. Besides carpets, you’ll want to use the same means for mattresses, as that’s where most of the dust mites are usually hiding. Investing in a portable steam cleaner for the mattress will be a big help in reducing dust mites.
2. Bleach (100% Kill Rate With 10% Concentration)
Chances are, you have a bottle of bleach in your home. Bleach, especially when used in high concentrations, is proven to be an effective solution in killing dust mite. Combined with the bleach activator, which enhances the effect bleach, dust mites have very little chances of survival.
Despite bleach being a potent dust mite killing agent, its use is often limited by safety concerns and may discolor clothes. You’ll also want to be cautious and not expose bleach to children and pets. Some people opt for oxygen bleach as it’s a milder agent.
If you’re using bleach, avoid mixing it with ammonia, vinegar or solution that you’re unsure of. The wrong combination will lead to the production of highly toxic gas. To be safe, use bleach with water only.
Clorox is a popular bleach cleaning solution in many households.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a white powdery compound comprising fossilized planktons. Also known as DE, it is widely used in gardening for pest control. The compound has a high concentration of silica and is highly effective in killing dust mites.
Placed under a microscope, diatomaceous earth compounds have jagged edges that can pierce through the body of the dust mites. When the exoskeleton of the dust mites is crushed, the silica will absorb moisture out from their body.
The suggestion of using DE to kill dust mites has been tested in studies. One study with an animal model suggests that exposure to DE results in a decrease in dust mites. However, there isn’t any indication of the duration it takes to kill dust mites with diatomaceous earth.
Generally, diatomaceous earth is sprinkled over carpets or beds for a few hours before vacuuming the powder and the mite carcasses off. Ensure that you’re using food-grade diatomaceous earth as pool-grade DE may be harmful to humans.
4. Clove Oil
You may have heard of suggestions that using essential oils is helpful in killing dust mites. However, not all types of essential oils are useful for dust mite control. Some essential oils are better in terms of dust mites’ mortality rate while others may not be as helpful.
Clove oil has been proven to be the most effective type of essential oil in a study in Egypt. Essential oils that have a higher concentration of certain chemical compounds, notably cinnamaldehyde and chlorothymol, prove to be an effective dust mite killer.
Adding a few drops of clove oil into laundry helps to eradicate living dust mites. You can also dilute clove oil with water and spray it around areas that are infested with the pesky creatures.
UV-C or ultraviolet-C is part of the ultraviolet ray given off by the sun. There are 3 different types of UV rays, namely UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. Both UV-A and UV-B are associated with causing skin cancer. UV-C is the most harmful, is absorbed by the ozone layer and does come into contact with the skin.
The highly destructive nature of UV-C is what makes it a potent germicidal agent. Experiments have found that exposing dust mites to UV-C lamp for 60 minutes at a distance of 10 cm eradicate all of the dust mites.
Not only that, but UV-C exposure also disable the mites’ eggs from hatching. It’s quite unsafe to do use a UV-C lamp to kill dust mites in your home, as you’ll also be exposed to it for a long period. Furthermore, it requires close contact for UV-C to be effective.
The best way to use UV-C is by getting a UV vacuum cleaner. These vacuums are designed to eliminate dust mites in mattresses. Combined with heat, powerful suction, and vibrating mechanism, UV vacuum cleaners are highly effective in eliminating dust mites in the bedroom.
Also, you may also consider getting a UV light air purifier. Besides trapping dust mites in the filter, the continuous exposure to UV light ensures that the mites are destroyed.
It seems that heat is the quickest and most effective way of killing dust mites if the studies are to be referred to. However, there is a limit to applications where heat can be used. A steam cleaner allows you to kill dust mites in carpet, rugs, or mattress but those that are hiding in soft toys and surfaces that are heat-sensitive will require other solutions.
I’ve been using a combination of a few methods to ensure that dust mites are reduced to a level where it doesn’t cause allergy for my son. Also, you’ll need to be consistent in keeping your house free of dust, or dust mites may start growing back quickly under your nose.