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Dust Mite Allergy - How To Minimise Exposure

If you suffer from asthma or similar breathing difficulties you will undoubtedly be very sensitive to the quality of the air around you. Whilst you cannot personally do much to influence the quality of the air outside your home, inside is a very different matter.

Household dust is largely made up of dead skin particles shed by we humans and our pets, all of which make a tasty feast for the dust mite. It is the dust mite’s function in life to chomp his way through this debris and prevent us from drowning in our own filth.


This beastly little chap is too small to be seen with the naked eye – he along with 5,000 of his minute friends could comfortably sit on the head of a pin, and they congregate wherever there is food for them. The most hospitable places in our homes are in our beds, upholstery and carpets as all of these harbour dust.

Whilst we largely live in harmony with dust mites, inevitably, as with all animals, what goes in one end comes out again the other end, albeit in a different form. It is the excretia of the dust mite that creates allergies in some of us.

If you have difficulty breathing at night, or frequently wake up with that ‘bunged up’ feeling, your bedding is undoubtedly in need of a spring clean. So put a fresh filter in your vacuum cleaner and get to work on your mattress and when you’ve thoroughly vacuumed the top, turn it over and do the other side as well. If you have a box spring base you will also need to vacuum that . Do the same with your pillows, but if they are more than a few years old, replace them with new ones. Dry clean blankets and/or duvets or, if they’re washable put them on a minimum of 60oC cycle (anything less and the little blighters will survive!).

For most of us this exercise, carried out approximately twice a year, will make enough of a difference to return us to rested sleep filled nights. However, for those who are hypersensitive, suffering from asthma and/or hay fever, more drastic measures may be necessary to keep household dust to a minimum.

On a regular basis (at least twice a week) it will be necessary to

– damp wipe all surfaces to remove the dust, (rather than push it around to resettle somewhere else), – vacuum, rather than sweep, all floors. – keep your bedroom and bedding well aired - dust mites thrive in high humidity

It’s also a good idea to:

– vacuum upholstery with the same thoroughness you used on your mattress
– use zippered plastic covers for your mattress and pillows to prevent dust penetration
– keep pets out of the bedroom, regularly wash their bedding on a hot cycle and frequently vacuum the areas where they predominantly live
– remove carpets and replace with hard flooring.

Unfortunately it is impossible to eliminate dust mites from our homes, but the above measures should make living with them more comfortable.
The author has for the last 13 years run a domestic cleaning agency http://www.selclene.co.uk/ providing regular cleaners to private homes in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley. In response to the increasing demand for spring cleans, pre and post house move cleans etc she has started another cleaning business www.rainbowcleaners.co.uk

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