The dust mite particles that fuel allergies are similar to pollen grains in size and potency. Early exposure to high levels of dust mites is a risk factor for asthma development. The average bed contains two million dust mites, creating a high level of exposure for sensitive patients.
The following environmental control measures may help to reduce dust mites: Use polyester or synthetic pillows; wash monthly in hot water and dry on hot temperature; replace yearly.
Pillows and mattresses should be encased in dust mite proof covers. Check covers periodically for tears and replace if worn.
- Use synthetic or cotton blankets and comforters that can be washed monthly.
- Avoid using feathered, kapok, or wool bedding.
- Hardwood floors are preferable to carpet. Keep wall-to-wall carpeting clean and dry adequately after cleaning. Old carpeting especially wool, should be replaced.
- When vacuuming, use high efficiency particle air filter (HEPA) vacuum cleaner bags and a HEPA vacuum with filter or water vacuum. This will limit backwash that normally occurs with older conventional vacuum cleaners. Hardwood floors should be kept dusted, and washable area rugs may be used over hardwood floors.
- Clean the bedroom weekly with a damp cloth.
- Remove bookcases from the bedroom.
- Remove stuffed toys and knickknacks. Stuffed toys that can be washed monthly may remain.
- Washable shades and curtains allow for better mite control than heavy drapes.
- Keep clothes in drawers and closets, and keep the area under the bed clean.
- Use wood and leather furniture, if possible, rather than upholstered furniture.
- Keep humidity level less than 35 percent to reduce dust mite growth.