Here’s a nightmare-inducing fact: the average mattress harbours anywhere from 100 000 to 10 million dust mites.
And pillows can be even more horrifying: ten percent of the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be dust mites and their droppings, shed skins and carcasses.
Dust mites are microscopic relatives of spiders that live on the dead skin cells of your family and pets.
While they don’t bite, they can still cause a number of health problems.
Dust mite droppings contain a protein that when inhaled or touched, causes allergy symptoms such as eczema, sneezing, itchy and runny noses, itchy eyes, and even asthma.
Dust mite waste accumulates everywhere in your home, but the highest concentration of this allergen can be found in beds, where warmth, moisture and an endless supply of dead skin cells create the perfect environment for massive mite colonies.
Stop the mite madness!
Here are some top tips from Protect-A-Bed for making sure you don’t have any unwanted sleeping partners:
1. Since most contact with dust mites occurs in bed, the best way to reduce your exposure is to encase your mattress and pillows with mite-proof protectors. To be mite-proof, a mattress protector must be woven tightly enough to be waterproof.
2. Vacuum your mattress once a month to remove mites, unless you’ve invested in a total mattress encasement.
3. Wash your mattress protector on a hot wash every four to six weeks to remove absorbed perspiration and skin scales. Wash bed linen every week in a 60-degree wash. Wash duvet inners and pillows once a month. (If you use pillow protectors, you need only wash your pillows once a year).
4. Soft toys that share the bed should be washed in hot water each week. Toys that can’t withstand hot washing can be put into the freezer for 24 hours before being cold washed to remove dust.
5. Embrace your inner slob. Kill mites by leaving your duvet open to dry out before you make the bed.
6. Synthetic pillow and duvet fillings are less hospitable to dust mites than feather and down.
7. Vacuum bedroom carpets and the bed base frequently, preferably using a vacuum cleaner with a good HEPA filter.
8. In severe cases of allergy, replace carpets with hard flooring, and curtains with blinds. Mop floors daily, and wipe down blinds.
9. Don’t forget to wash pet bedding, since dust mites can also cause allergies in pets.