Hints & HELP!
by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the August 3,
2003 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.
house dust mites live at your house? They are part of everyday
life and don't bother most people. Summer's heat and humidity
increases the number of house dust mites, but there are
ways to keep their population down.
populations increase and decrease with the seasons due to
the rising and falling of both temperatures and humidity.
Immature mites may be dormant during long periods of low
humidity, maturing when conditions are more favorable.
mites' optimum relative humidity level is 65-75 percent
at 72-79 degrees. However, the moisture from a sleeping
person is enough to support mites.
the relative humidity to less than 50 percent will help
reduce numbers. A double-filtered ventilator or air conditioner
may help, especially in pollen season. Also, vent clothes
dryer to the outdoors.
pinhead-sized house dust mites live in carpets, bedding
and upholstered furniture. They especially like textured
upholstered furniture and long or loose pile carpet. However,
small numbers of them can be found in tight-pile carpet,
vinyl furniture, wood floors or encased mattresses.
mites are everywhere -- living on skin scales, or dander,
regularly shed from humans and animals. About 5 percent
of the population, is bothered by their fecal matter and
castoff skin or "dust" that can cause sneezing,
runny noses or aggravate allergies. Keeping the "dust"
under control may help some people control their allergies.
Hard surface flooring and non-fabric window treatments are
recommended for families with members who have reactions/allergies
to dust mites. Damp clean all hard services.
thorough vacuuming -- twice weekly, for example -- of carpets,
draperies and furniture may help keep populations low. Vacuum
wall-to-wall carpets more often -- especially if the premises
are damp. Vacuuming may be an ineffective intervention,
however, when it disperses dust into the air. Therefore,
change vacuum bags often.
window treatments such as washable curtains and roller shades
to help keep dust mites under control. Turn and vacuum mattresses
every few months and/or use a plastic covering. Wash other
bedding frequently. Bedding should be washed in hot water.
people with allergies to house dust mites, specialty vacuum
cleaners with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) type
filters may help. Micro filter bags help keep in the very
small particles that may otherwise become suspended. These
filters capture minute particles better than traditional
disposable vacuum cleaner bags. A central vacuum system
also may alleviate allergy suffering because the pipes carry
and store the dirt away for the living quarters.
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