Dust mites are found in the vast majority of homes. Unlike other species of mites, these tiny, microscopic creatures are not parasitic. When present, they can cause serious allergic reactions in some people, as well as respiratory issues such as asthma or skin issues, such as eczema.
How Dust Mites Occur
Dust is not a single allergen, but rather a collection of different potential allergens. Dust can include cigarette ash, mold spores, dog dander, skin cells, cat dander, cockroach droppings, pollen and even dust mite feces or dead dust mites. When dust is present, it attracts dust mites. This is because dust mites feed on dust, hence their name ‘dust mite.’
Where Dust Mites Occur
Dust mites occur wherever dust occurs, plan and simple. This is because dust mites, as stated before, feed on dust.
Ideally, dust mites prefer to live in homes that are maintained at 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with 70 to 80 percent humidity. Under these conditions, dust mite populations will thrive.
Under these ideal conditions, a single mite’s life cycle could take up to 4 weeks from egg to reproducing adult.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites and Prevent Them From Reoccurring
Getting rid of dust mites includes having to use methods of prevention as well. Ideally, dust should be cleaned up on a regular basis, such as weekly or even bi-weekly. In homes where dust allergies are present, daily or every other day dust removal may be necessary.
Long term prevention of dust mites is ideal. Studies have shown that lowering humidity inside a home can help reduce mite populations. This is because mites thrive best in a higher humidity, around 70 to 80 percent. During the winter, reducing humidity is relatively easy though it may be more difficult to do in the summer.
However, studies have also shown that air conditioned homes have up to 10 times fewer dust mite allergens than in homes that do not run the air conditioning. This may be in part because of the cooler indoor temperature combined with the reduced humidity caused by running the air conditioner.
During the warmer months, keeping the windows closed can also help reduce dust mite populations. Open windows invite in new allergens for dust mites to feed on, allowing the dust mite population inside a home to grow.
Lastly, once everything has been thoroughly cleaned-keep it clean! Wash bedding on a weekly basis, wash any stuffed toys or animals regularly, steam clean carpets yearly and so forth. Keeping a home clean will help reduce dust particles in the home, which in turn will reduce the dust mite population in the home.