There is a reason why respiratory symptoms, including those related to asthma and allergies, seem to worsen during the long winter season. Winter is when cold temperatures and shorter periods of natural light force adults and children to spend most of their daily routine inside homes where the environment can quickly become stale and laden with bacteria and allergens, such as dust mites. Although warmer weather is upon us, spring into action to help eliminate your indoor allergy triggers.
Dust Mites in the Home
Invisible to the naked eye, dust mites are usually present in both interior and outdoor environments, and thrive happily in the ordinary house dust found in most homes. With plentiful food sources available, such as dead human skin cells and pet dander, their numbers increase quickly and soon put family members at risk for respiratory problems and allergies.
Although they can exist on almost any surface, upholstered furnishings, carpets, pillows, bedding and stuffed animals provide the best habitat and allow their numbers to flourish. Common reactions to dust mite allergens include frequents headaches, congestion, sore throats, sinus issues, coughing and even skin rashes and eczema.
Reducing Dust Mite Allergens in the Home
Reducing the frequency and severity of dust mite allergy symptoms and related asthma attacks in the home environment requires a three-prong approach that reduces their habitat, improves home air quality and reduces exposure.
Ridding the home of many of the soft surfaces where dust mites congregate is the first step to reducing the number of allergens in your home. To do this, consider making the following changes:
- Replace wall-to-wall carpeting with easy to clean, hard surface flooring, such as wood, tile and laminate
- If carpet and rugs are needed, opt for natural fiber vs. lose pile or shag type that can be cleaned frequently in hot water
- Replace feather pillows with allergen-resistant pillows
- Remove as many stuffed animals as possible from your child’s environment, and replace them with machine washable versions that can be easily laundered
- Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof covers
Improve Home Air Quality
Improving air quality is also a major part of reducing dust mite populations. Reduce the humidity in your home, especially bedrooms where they tend to live, to less than 50%. A dehumidifier or air conditioner can help keep allergic reactions at bay.
In addition, it is important to maximize air quality by using good quality filters in your home HVAC system and changing them often.
Reduce Exposure to Dust Mite Allergens With Targeted Cleaning Routines
The most effective way to reduce exposure to dust mite allergens is to remove them from the home environment with specific, scheduled cleaning. Make sure your home cleaning routine includes the following:
- Launder bedding, couch throws and soft toys weekly in hot water – 130 degrees Fahrenheit – and dry thoroughly in the dryer or on the clothesline
- Vacuum thoroughly each week, using high efficiency HEPA filtration and a fresh, disposable vacuum bag for each weekly session
- Vacuum upholstery and soft surfaces such as padded headboards weekly with an upholstery attachment
- Damp mop floors each week with a clean microfiber mop head
- Wipe down furnishings and surfaces each week with a dampened microfiber cleaning cloth
- Use an eco-friendly cleaning service like Mopfrog of Atlantic City to deep clean your home on a recurring basis. Mopfrog’s professional cleaning staff can help you achieve a cleaner, healthier home, while reducing the risk of developing respiratory issues from exposure to allergens such as dust mites.