For the havoc that dust mites wreak in your life, you’ll wish that could kill them instantly. Like, in a snap. Because dealing with dust mites can be painful, emotionally, physically, and financially.
It’s forgivable to want a quick end to the ordeal caused by pests that are invisible. But, the fact that they can’t be seen makes getting rid of them more difficult. You can’t know for sure if you’ve killed the mites or are there remnants of them in your home.
I’ve covered possible solutions that are proven to effectively kill dust mites in a previous article. Now, the question is, does it destroy the dust mites of in one fell swoop, or it takes hours or days for the mites to die a slow death.
Heat (Instant Killer)
Dust mites are known to perish at a temperature greater than 55°C (131°F). When the pests are exposed to heat beyond the survivable limit, they are destroyed instantly. Not a single living mite will remain upon exposure to high temperatures.
The beauty of killing dust mites with heat is that it also denatures the allergen. Dust mite allergen is a form of protein that triggers allergic responses in humans. Exposure to heat deactivates the allergen and rob it of its allergic-causing properties.
A study performed by the University of Glasgow confirmed the fact. In the study, two segments of the carpet were seeded with dust mites. One of the segments was steam-cleaned while the other was left as it is for control. Both were left for 4 months. The treated-segment shows not a single living mite thereafter, while mites continue to grow in the controlled segment.
If you have dust mites infestation, getting a steam cleaner will be handy.
Washing in Hot Water
Mattress covers, blankets, and pillowcases are favorite haunts of dust mites. There are possibly hundreds, if not thousands of them on the fabric. Heat, in the form of washing with hot water, is known to be an effective way of killing the mites.
If you have a temperature-controlled washing machine, getting rid of the mites is easy. Else, you’ll need to be careful as you pour hot water onto the bedding or clothes.
If washing in hot water is not an option, you could still kill the mites with the laundry dryer. However, it is less effective as it takes about 10 minutes before the mites are killed. Also, the tumble drying is not effective in removing the allergen compared to washing or steam cleaning.
Sending dust mites to the ice-cold freezer is often an alternative for heat treatment. Some items, like stuffed toys, aren’t heat-washable. While the freezing-cold temperature does kill the mites, it isn’t instant.
Most of the mites will die when exposed to temperatures between −15°C to −17°C. However, some female mites will survive. The good news is, the surviving mites are incapable of laying eggs, and they’ll die between 10 to 15 days after returning to the room environment.
The bad news? Freezing does not remove or denature the allergen.
Benzyl benzoate is an organic compound used in mite control products. It is effective in repelling mosquitoes and ticks. Benzyl benzoate is also a good agent for killing dust mites.
However, it may not destroy all of the mites instantly, at least not in carpets and mattresses. In one study, Benzyl benzoate was used in treating dust mite infested carpets and mattresses. While the mite population decreases, the effect isn’t as swift as heat.
Bleach, which is known by its other name, chlorine, is effective in killing dust mites. This common household item is proven to kill 100% of dust mites within 4 hours when a 10% concentration of the solution is used.
The question remains whether bleach offers the same mortality rate for a shorter exposure. While there aren’t studies that prove bleach can kill dust mites instantly, it is known that adding bleach activators can increase the mite’s mortality rate.
UV-C is one of the 3 ultraviolet spectrums with the shortest waveform. It is also the most lethal for humans and dust mites alike. You can achieve a 100% kill rate with UV-C but the distance for the emitting source and the mites need to be incredibly close.
A study has shown that at a 10cm distance, 100% of mites are killed in 1 hour. Yet, it is doubtful that the mites can be terminated instantly with UV rays.
Certain types of essential oils are identified as effective natural solutions in killing dust mites. The presence of certain monoterpenoid compounded in a few essential oils made them effective dust mite killer.
However, even the most lethal essential oil, which is clove, doesn’t provide a quick kill. As with other natural compounds, it takes some time before the mites are killed.
When it comes to killing dust mites in an instant, heat is the most promising. With steam cleaning and washing in hot water, the mites are terminated immediately upon exposure. As for tumble drying, factors like the thickness of the material and duration affect the mites’ mortality rate.