9 Useful Tips for Eliminating House Mites

You may never be able to get rid of all house mites, but reducing house mite population can improve your asthma symptoms. You can decrease your exposure to house mites by either decreasing the total number of house mites in your home (i.e. killing house mites) or making your home less hospitable to house mites (i.e. environmental control of house mites).

A man vacuuming his rug
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Focus on the Bedroom

The house mites that share our homes are also known as dust mites, and two of the most common species are Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae. These parasitic creatures typically live in different kinds of fabric, especially bedding. House mites do not easily move about your home like other types of mites and have specific needs to grow. As a result, the following tips can help you decrease house mites in your home. The bedroom is probably the most important place to attempt to eradicate house mites as you can have a significant exposure during sleep.

Tips for removing mites include:

  • Allergen-proof cases for bedding: Encasing pillows and mattresses is one of the most effective ways to decrease house mites. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that this simple and comfortable method is also effective. Reducing house mites in this manner is associated with decreased asthma medication use and airway hyperresponsiveness. Even if you buy hypoallergenic mattresses and pillows, encasement is still important to prevent house mite colonization.
  • Washing bedding: If you cannot encase a pillow to prevent house mites, it should be washed frequently with other bedding. Current guidelines recommend washing all bedding every one to two weeks in 130°F water so that house mites are killed. Washing with cooler temperatures will remove, but not kill, house mites.
  • Vacuuming: While vacuuming decreases household dust, it does not effectively decrease house mites. Using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is more effective, but also more expensive. If your allergy to house mites is significant, consider wearing a face mask or leaving during vacuuming.
  • Remove carpets: While not as effective as encasing bedding, removing wall-to-wall carpet may decrease exposure to house mites. Removing bedroom carpet would likely be most successful.
  • Clean hard surfaces: Wiping down hard surfaces with a damp washcloth will remove more than 90% of house mite allergens.
  • Change bedroom location: This can be particularly helpful when the bedroom is located in the basement. This may be helpful because humidity levels and moisture are higher in the basement.
  • Dehumidifiers: While using air-conditioning alone does not decrease levels of house mites, lowering humidity levels can help decrease house mites. Unfortunately, portable dehumidifiers may not work very well in parts of the country where humidity is already very high. For dehumidifiers to effectively lower levels of house mites, humidity levels must be below 35% for at least 22 hours per day.
  • HEPA filters: HEPA filters for your central air and heating systems are expensive and also not effective. Because house mites do not stay airborne for long periods of time, only small amounts are effectively removed in this manner, and usually not worth the cost.
  • Acaracide: This pesticide, which can eradicate dust mites, can be applied to carpets, mattresses, and furniture.

Take a Multi-Pronged Approach

When dealing with dust mites in your home, a single measure won't be enough to prevent asthma attacks in family members who are triggered by them, according to updated recommendations for asthma management issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in December 2020.

The guidelines advise that in order to effectively mitigate (reduce) household exposure to dust mites, it's key to put in place at least three measures known to help eliminate dust mites. An example of this triple strategy might be treating carpets with acaracide plus encasing mattresses and pillows with dust-mite resistant covers plus investing in a HEPA vacuum cleaner and using it regularly.

Note that the NIH does not recommend taking any measures to decrease exposure to dust mites or any allergen for people who aren't sensitive to them.

Therefore it's important to talk with your healthcare provider about how best fine-tune your measures for mitigating your exposure to dust mites and any other specific triggers so that you wind up with the most effective and efficient strategy for you.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Pat Bass, MD
Dr. Bass is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians.