Here’s the brutal truth. If you’re allergic to dust mites, you’re in for the long haul. Medications offer temporary relief but the regular vacuuming, cleaning, and washing of bedding are what keeping the pest numbers down.
It’s only natural that you start looking for ways that repel dust mites, and hopefully for good. The regular cleaning will eventually take its toll because it’s hard to keep a rigorous cleaning schedule while dealing with a blocked nose and other symptoms.
That puts the questions of what repels dust mites a valid one.
Can Dust Mites Be Repelled With Odor?
Dust mites are pretty common in almost every household. These microscopic creatures thrive in a humid environment (70%-90%) and temperature between 20°C – 25°C (68°F – 77°F). They feed on skin flakes, which are shed by humans (and pets) living in the house.
Apparently, dust mites have a keen sense of smell. These pests locate food sources by sensing the smell emanating from the skin cells. It speaks volumes of how sensitive dust mites are in terms of smelling and this opens up the possibility of repelling dust mites with odor.
But is it possible?
At the moment of writing, there isn’t any scientific study that points to possible agents, whether natural or chemical, that could repel dust mites by smell.
One study, which uses neryl formate, demonstrates that dust mites are attracted to its scent, and would group together in huge numbers. It also shows the possibility of using neryl formate, which is commonly found in alcoholic drinks, as a lure-and-kill dust mite trap.
Can Essential Oils Repel Dust Mites?
If you’ve been essential oils, you’ll recognize the sweet, flowery (or wooden) aroma of the oil. Essential oils are have been used for centuries in aromatherapy. Some of the oils are known to be natural insect repellent.
However, are essential oils effective in repelling dust mites?
While there isn’t a study on essential oils turning dust mites away, certain types of essential oils are proven to be effective in killing them. Namely, these anti-dust mites oils are:
- Tea tree
If you have a sprayer bottle, you can easily make DIY essential oil spray to kill dust mites. Using the essential oil spray regularly is one of the ways to keep dust mites away from your home.
There’s a chance that the scent of the oil could drive the mites away, but it is a fact that contact with the oil will kill most of the mites.
Add 15-20 drops of essential oil into 8 oz. of water and you’ll have a bottle of natural dust mite repellent.
How To Keep Dust Mites Away From Your Home
At the moment, the answer to a man-made dust mite repellant remains elusive, at least from a scientific perspective. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to turn your home’s environment into an unconducive one for dust mites.
It’s all about going to the basics. Remember that dust mites are fickle creatures, with an average lifespan of 70 days. The key to their infestation is the environment, particularly one that satisfies the temperature, humidity, and food.
Disrupt one of the 3 factors and you’ll have a chance of keeping dust mites off your home.
Dust mites achieve optimum breeding rate when the temperature is between 20°C – 25°C (68°F – 77°F). When exposed to a high temperature of 55°C (131°F), they are killed. Freezing the mites may not be as effective, as a study has shown that some female mites may survive and continue to lay eggs.
Therefore, the only way of disrupting the temperature is to increase it to beyond 25°C ( 77°F), with the hope that it will slow down the mite’s breeding rate.
The only problem is, humans are typically accustomed to temperatures around 23°C (75°F), which is within the optimum range for dust mites. It’s going to be tough to tweak the temperature unless you’re willing to sweat buckets to get rid of the mites.
It is more realistic to focus on lowering the humidity to a range that is non-conducive for dust mites. The move is backed by the fact that the ideal humidity for humans is between 30%- 50%.
When you’re decreasing humidity in your home to the ideal range, you’re not only disrupting dust mite growth but also setting an indoor environment that’s optimum for health.
There are a few ways to keeping the humidity within the ideal range.
- Air conditioner – Turning on the air conditioner does keep the air dry, but it consumers considerably more energy.
- Dehumidifier – If your home is overtly-humid, using a dehumidifier helps to stabilize the humidity within the appropriate level.
- Exhaust fan – Installing exhaust fans in bathrooms helps to remove excess moisture, which could lead to dust mites growth.
- Desiccants – In closets or small confined areas, placing desiccant packs help to lower relative humidity.
- Natural ventilation – Opening the windows and letting natural breeze air the house is the easiest way to remove trapped moisture at home.
By food, I’m referring to the millions of dead skin cells that you shed each day. Unfortunately, there are no ways to avoid shedding skin cells.
Yes, it means cleaning, vacuuming, and washing, but there’s a smarter way to go about it.
For a start, you’ll want to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The HEPA filter is designed to trap 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. The average skin cell measures 30 microns, which is trapped by the HEPA filter.
Dust mites are often concentrated on the mattress and carpet. It is a good idea to use a hypoallergenic mattress protector or bed sheet that prevents the skin cells and dust mites from penetrating the mattress. Keeping them on the surface makes cleaning easier.
As for the carpet, getting a powerful carpet cleaner helps. It removes dust mites along with the skin flakes that continue to fuel their growth.
What About Ultrasonic Waves?
Ultrasonic dust mite controllers touted to be an effective repellent. The product operates by emitting an ultrasonic wave to the surrounding.
There is, however, no evidence suggesting the dust mites are turned away by the ultrasonic wave generated. Instead, ultrasonic waves disrupt the mite’s reproductive system and denature the allergen.
While there’s no guarantee that ultrasonic waves will send the mites off your house in a hurry, it could slow down the growth rate and possibly reduce the severity of the allergy symptoms.
Patience and diligence go a long way in keeping dust mites at bay. Will they return with a vengeance? Experience says yes if you start slacking in keeping your home dust-free.