Okay, first things first. If you’ve never heard of a dust mite, perhaps a visual is a good place to start. Click This Link to pop up another window that will show you as many photos as you (probably don’t) care to see of actual dust mites.
Yuck! (By the way, to find these photos, I simply did a Google Search. The trick is to put the word “dust mite” in quotation marks and also do an “Image” search on Google (you can select to only search Images) so that your search results are nothing but images.
That is not a picture of anything I want to have crawling in my bed. Yet, many of us do. Thousands of them. Feeding off our dead skin cells in our sheets and pillows.
Several websites on the Internet tell the tale of these minuscule mites, but I found one description that summed it up well from familydoctor.org:
Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in your home. They measure about 1/100th of an inch in length, which is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Dust mites feed off of pet and human dander (dust), and their waste is a major cause of allergies and asthma. In children who have asthma, dust mites can cause them to wheeze more and need more asthma medicine. So, cutting down the number of dust mites in the home is an important step if your child has allergies or asthma.
Dust mites love warm, humid areas filled with dust. Bed pillows, mattresses, carpets and furniture are great places for them to live. Cleaning each one of these places can make a real difference in the number of dust mites in your home.
Another website, ivillage.com (a GREAT website to find out information on just about anything) says:
Dust often contains many allergens — molds, fibers, animal dander, even human skin cells. It also contains dust mites — tiny insects that live wherever you find dust. Their favorite places are in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpets — in your house and everyone else’s — where they feed on the skin cells we shed.
So after reading all of that, you probably wanted to know what I wanted to know. How to get rid of them! IVillage.com gave this handy dandy list of how to conquer the mites:
To beat them:
- Buy an airtight mattress and pillow covers. Buy a new pillow every year.
- Wash your pillows and sheets in hot water (at least 130 degrees F) once a week.
- Don’t sleep or rest on upholstered or stuffed furniture.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe away dust on furniture as soon as possible. If you have asthma, have someone else vacuum or dust.
- Use a vacuum filter. Vacuuming can contribute to the amount of dust in your home unless your vacuum cleaner is equipped with a special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. This type of vacuum cleaner is expensive but well worth the money if dust triggers your allergies.
- Remove carpets from your bedroom. Although shag carpets are the worst type for the dust-sensitive person, all carpets trap dust and make dust control impossible.
- If your child has asthma, limit the number of stuffed animals in his or her bedroom and wash them once a week.
- Keep humidity low. Dust mites and other allergens like warm, humid environments. Ideally, keep the humidity in your room at less than 50 percent. You can track humidity with an instrument called a hygrometer or humidistat, available at specialty stores or through catalogs that specialize in wind and weather equipment. You may want to buy a dehumidifier.
- Use shades rather than venetian blinds on the windows because they do not trap dust. Wash curtains periodically in hot water to kill dust mites.
Basically I’m an avid fan of bleach. One of my favorite infomercials is Clorox Bleach. Hey, don’t laugh. I know another person who enjoys that commercial as much as me. We are probably attracted to the informative information about how bleach can keep germs and nasty things out of homes like mites. Adding a little bleach to the dish water and pouring some occasionally down the drain can do wonders for killing all kinds of bacteria backup and microscopic life that we don’t care to really know about or have. Bleach is also advised when cleaning kitchen counter tops and also in the bathroom. Adding a little bleach to the laundry is a good idea too, especially when washing your bedroom linens. Of course, use color safe bleach on your colored clothes ;-)
So that’s everything I have to say about dust mites. Wow… my first blog entry is about dust mites. We can tell where this blog is headed (smile). But hey, it was informative, something I recently learned, and it’s not the type of information that I could have featured anywhere else. At the very least, hope I made you chuckle. Now go change your sheets! And go buy new pillows. The mites may have built mansions in your pillows by now if you’ve had the same pillow for over five years.
So if you haven’t washed your bedding and sheets in a real long time… be aware and beware, millions of tiny feet might be marching within at microscopic propotions!