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Can You Be Allergic to Dust Mites?

Updated on April 22, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

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Dust is one of the most annoying things about being a homeowner. It gets everywhere and seems to always be on every surface, no matter how frequently you clean your home. 

Dust is made up of dead skin cells, dirt, hair, clothing fibres, and other small particles. Gross, right? Even grosser are the tiny organisms that live within the dust. Dust mites are microscopic pests that feed off the dead skin cells in the dust and moisture in the air. On top of being disgusting, dust mites can also cause an immune response called allergic rhinitis in certain individuals. 

Can You Be Allergic to Dust Mites?

If you’ve ever been in a very dusty environment, you’ve probably noticed that it’s more difficult to breathe, and you may be left coughing and sneezing a bit. This may lead you to wonder, is everyone allergic to dust mites? The short answer is no. While almost everyone will experience some form of irritation after being exposed to large quantities of dust, not everyone will have an actual allergic reaction

Dust mites are among the most common indoor allergens that can cause reactions in people with allergies or asthma. Continual exposure to dust mites can cause persistent coughing, sneezing, and congestion in those who are allergic to the pests. Additionally, exposure to dust mites can cause severe asthma attacks, chest tightness, and shortness of breath for people with asthma.  

Items in Your Home That Hold onto Dust Mites

Dust mites don’t linger in the air for long. Instead, they settle into surface dust or fabric surfaces, such as your bedding, throw rugs, pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and drapes. Once the dust mites have settled in, sitting on this furniture can trigger an allergic reaction to the dust mites. 

If you suffer from severe allergies or asthma, it’s recommended that you avoid upholstered furniture, carpeted floors, and heavy drapes to eliminate the number of dust mites in your home. However, if that’s not possible, here are the items in your home that hold onto dust the most and how to clean them. 

Box Springs, Mattresses, and Bedding

Dust mites love beds because they are often dark and damp habitats. To keep your bed as dust-mite-free as possible, it’s important to clean it often and replace things when needed. 

Your sheets, pillowcases, duvets, and throw blankets should all be washed every week in hot water to help kill dust mites. Dust mites cannot survive in hot temperatures, which is why washing in hot water is an essential part of washing your bedding. Running your sheets through the dryer will also help to kill off any leftover mites. 

Mattresses should be replaced every seven to ten years, and box springs can often last about ten years. On the other hand, pillows should be replaced every one to two years. You can also get anti-allergen pillows and mattress toppers to help ease allergy symptoms from the dust mites in your pillows and mattresses. 

A woman pulling up a mattress on the bed

Upholstered Furniture

Whenever possible, getting furniture with slipcovers is the best option. This way, you can remove the covers and wash them frequently to kill any dust mites. 

Throw Rugs, Pillows, and Drapes

Wood floors are your best bet when it comes to flooring, but if you need some carpeting, throw rugs are a great replacement for carpeted floors. Because they aren’t attached to the floor, they are much easier to clean and are often not as dense as cull carpets. This means they won’t be able to trap dust as easily. 

If you do have carpet in your home that cannot be removed, read up on the best carpet cleaners to make sure you are using products that will effectively clean as many dust mites as possible. 

Tips for Eliminating Dust Mites

If you yourself have a dust mite allergy and are trying to clean your home, consider wearing a mask while cleaning to avoid inhaling too much dust. While cleaning is very important, it can also cause the dust to circulate more for upwards of two hours. 

Dust Properly

While it’s important to dust your house regularly, you must ensure you’re using proper dusting methods. Regular feather dusters may simply displace the dust instead of getting rid of it, causing more dust particles to become airborne and triggering your allergic reaction. Devices like a Swiffer Sweeper or microfibre cloth are more effective at actually picking up the dust so you can then dispose of it. 

Check out our review of the best dusters to find a duster that will work for your home. 

Decrease Humidity

Dust mites cannot survive in areas of low humidity as they need to absorb moisture in the air to survive. Using a dehumidifier can help decrease the humidity levels in your home to help kill any lingering dust mites. The humidity level in your home should stay below 55%. 

Use an Air Purifier

Using an air purifier or air cleaner is a great way to kill dust mites in your home. Because dust mites are so small, not every device will be able to kill dust mites effectively. That’s why you should do your research on the best air purifier for allergies to make sure you’re getting a device that will actually help with your symptoms. 

The benefits of using air cleaners and air purifiers go far beyond killing dust mites, so even if your allergy symptoms are mild, they’re definitely worth the investment. 

Use a High-Quality Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuuming your floors regularly is a great way of minimizing the amount of dust in your home. Make sure to use a high-quality device, like a  Shark vacuum cleaner or a vacuum with a HEPA filter, to ensure the dust is actually being sucked up and not just moved around. 

How to Ease the Symptoms of Allergic Reactions to Dust Mites

If you think you may be having an allergic reaction to dust, it’s essential to visit an allergist. The common symptoms of dust allergy include: 

  • Coughing
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Sneezing 
  • Itchy skin or eczema 
  • Irritated, red, or itchy eyes
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath

On top of keeping your home clean and avoiding household items that are known for trapping dust, dust allergy treatment may also involve taking decongestants and antihistamines to manage symptoms. 

About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!