Dust mites are tiny, only .2-.3 millimeters long and combined with the fact that they have no true color they are essentially invisible. They feed on human or animal skin flakes that exist in your home. (Humans and animals both lose flakes of skin naturally.) This is a primary reason that they congregate in and around the bed the place that we spend the largest percentage of our day.
Dust mites have eight legs and are related to fleas, spiders and ticks. (Mites are not an insect but an arachnid having eight legs.) Their life span is approximately 45-90 days (they reach the adult stage in 3-4 weeks) but in that time period a female mite will lay between 30-70 eggs.
Considering the short life span and large reproduction capability the numbers of dust mites that exist in your can be staggering. For Example it is estimated that your mattress probably has millions living inside of it.
Dust mites do not bite or sting and unless you are allergic to them they are harmless. Their cast off skins and fecal matter collect wherever they are located and can create allergy symptoms, bronchial asthma, and skin allergies in people. In fact dust mite droppings are likely the most common allergy in humans. Throughout it’s life a single mite may produce up to 200 times its body weight in waste!
Dust Mites and Allergies
While people tend to think of pollen and pet dander first dust mites probably afflict more people with allergic symptoms than any other allergen.
Dust Mites feed on released skin flakes from animals and humans. Perhaps this is why beds, upholstered furniture, carpets, and even stuffed animals are the most common homes for them. In fact, the bedroom is a dust mite haven, particularly your mattress! Dust mites have a short life span—typically about 45-90 days—but reproduce quickly and thus it is nearly impossible to completely rid your home of them. Learn more facts about mites in our dust mites description and facts.
While dust mites are too small to be seen by the naked eye it is virtually certain that your home has them. Measuring only about 250 microns a small “dust bunny” can be home to thousands! Dust mites leave droppings (fecal material) everywhere and these droppings which contain left-over enzymes the mites use to digest their food, cause the allergic reactions. Mites have even been determined to be one of the leading causes (or catalysts) of asthma! Take a look at allergies and carpets for more information about allergies.
Dust Mites – Tips
Ridding your home of dust mites is a daunting task, however, you can significantly reduce their impact on you and your home by following some fairly simple tips.
1. Purchase dust mite proof bedding covers.
Wash/clean the bedding covers regularly.
2. Wash your sheets, pillow cases, etc… regularly
3. Wash your bedding and other clothes in hot water (130 deg. F), which will kill dust mites.
4. Wash your child’s stuffed animals in hot water.
5. Make certain you have a hepa filter vacuum cleaner and vacuum at least twice a week.
6. Deep clean your carpets at least 1-2 times a year. (Steam cleaning will help kill the mites due to the heat.)
7. Ventilate your house.
8. Install allergy filters on your central air/heating.
9. Replace upholstered furniture with furniture that does not host mites well such as leather, wood, plastic, etc… (As possible)
10. Keep the relative humidity in your home well below 70%. (Mites require humidity to survive.)
11. Use a room air cleaner (particularly in the bedroom or a dusty room) to help control the amount of dust. This will also improve the general indoor air quality.