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No matter how well you clean your home, dust still lurks. Plain, ordinary dust is one of the most common causes of allergy, especially the respiratory kind. In a mere speck of dust, you can find algae, bacteria, cotton lint, hair, and insect particles, to name a few. In short, whatever is flying in the air becomes part of dust. Scientists today have found that the most allergenic ingredient in house dust is the mite. These are microscopic critters that feed on the flakes of our skin we shed daily. Dust mites love to harbor in areas of our homes such as bedding, carpet, stuffed furniture, drapery, and children's cloth toys. This article gives you the tools to eliminate dust mites in your home and hopefully relief of your allergy symptoms.
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Make Sure Your Bedroom Is Super Clean
Since we spend one-third of our time in the bedroom sleeping and resting, this is the room of major concern. It also contains the highest concentration of dust mites found in bedding. Using the measures below will help control dust mites and also help with allergies to mold and animal dander.
Wash All Bedding
This includes sheets, pillowcases, blankets, mattress pads, and quilts. Your water must be hotter than 125 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off dust mites. In homes with small children, it is advisable to keep the water temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less. In this case, soak the bedding in bleach water for at least 10 minutes before washing. Wash weekly.
Make sure blankets are washable. Vellux blankets are recommended because they are durable through many washings and do not collect much dust. Cotton quilts are easy to launder, but heavy comforters are big dust collectors should be avoided. If you must use a comforter, think about placing it inside a dust-mite encasement.
Purchase Dust Mite Encasements
Encasements made from vinyl are handy and can be zippered around mattresses, box springs, pillows, and comforters. Some people find them uncomfortable, but placing a washable cotton mattress pad on top of mattresses makes them easier to sleep on. The more permeable encasements are breathable and very comfortable to use. Dust mite encasements can be found online at many allergy shops such as National Allergy Supply and even on Amazon.com. Check with your local department stores, and Bed, Bath and Beyond sells them.
It's best to keep your bedroom clutter-free. Don't leave clothes lying around, and take stored books and magazines out of the room. Keep the dressers clutter free, making it easy to clean with a damp cloth. Also, washable drapes are better than blinds that collect dust. Children's stuffed toys are a place where dust mites harbor. Limit your child to one favorite stuffed toy that can be washed. Make sure to wash this often in very hot water.
Carpets or Not?
Removing carpets from the bedroom may be costly, but in the long run you will keep your health care cost down from reduced medical visits and supplies. Consider tile, linoleum, or laminated wood flooring that can easily be damp mopped to remove dust. For comfort with cold flooring, you can place washable throw rugs down by your feet that can be laundered. Leaving rugs out in the direct sun for a few hours is also an effective method for killing dust mites.
If you must keep your carpeting, make sure to vacuum it regularly with the allergic person out of the room. For people who must vacuum themselves, wear a mask and consider buying a quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
Run the AC
Keep the air conditioner running as cool as you can stand and afford. Dust mites cannot survive in cold temperatures and dry environment. The mites love humidity, so try to avoid using humidifiers. Make sure to change filters often and invest in quality HEPA ones.
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The Bottom Line
Dust mite allergies are year round and unfortunately require regular cleaning. Try to eliminate dust mites in your home with these ideas, and as you control your dust-laden air your symptoms should improve.
- DIY Life: "How to Get Rid of Dust Mites" http://www.diylife.com/2007/10/04/how-to-get-rid-of-dust-mites/
- The Allergy Self-Help Book by Sharon Faelten and editors of Prevention Magazine [Rodale Press]
- Photo credit by xpistwv (the sneeze) http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/150534