If you’re aware of dust mites, you know they are commonly found in homes. But how can you get rid of them? Does bleach kill dust mites or should you simply use warm water or a vacuum?
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy. I wondered how I could best manage my allergy and it was clear that I needed to keep a clean house.
This meant researching methods to effectively kill dust mites. Bleach is a common cleaning solution and I wondered if it would be effective.
In the sections below, I’ll share if bleach is the best solution for killing dust mites. If you’re in a hurry and just want a simple answer then the answer is “maybe”.
Bleach can kill dust mites but it’s not the most effective (or healthiest) way to manage mites in your home. It probably won’t kill larvae which is just as important as the dust mite itself. More effective options are essential oils and washing with hot water, and they are healthier!
Chlorine Bleach – A Common Household Cleaner
Chances are, you probably have bleach in your laundry room or under the kitchen sink. It’s a great cleaner as it helps remove stubborn stains and disinfects as well.
It’s also a chemical and can irritate airways and eyes if used in the home for prolonged periods of time. When possible, I prefer to use products that are soothing to my senses rather than those that have stronger chemical compounds.
In this study, chlorine was mentioned to be used in chemical warfare (though I assume in a much more concentrated amount than what we use in our homes).
Killing Dust Mites with Chlorine Bleach
One of the major problems with using chlorine bleach to kill dust mites is that dust mites usually live in warm, dark areas. These areas include carpets, fabric couches, and in our beds (mattresses and pillows).
Using a bleach solution on a table or on tile flooring is easy, as it will disinfect and clean the hard surface. However, it’s not as easy if the surface is fabric.
Even though you may notice a lot of dust in the corners of hard floors, but hard floors aren’t hospitable to dust mites. To survive, dust mites require warmth, moisture, and prefer dark areas where they can hide.
But what about using bleach in laundry? I imagine most people reading this article are wondering if bleach kills dust mites because they want to use it in their laundry. Bleach is a common additive for cleaning clothes and it does well with keeping white clothes bright.
Unfortunately, it’s not as definitive in killing dust mites as other methods. It will disinfect dust mites and might kill them but it won’t necessarily kill their larvae.
The good news is that dust mites are fairly simple to kill when washing laundry. High temperatures (heat) and a few drops of essential oil do a great job at not only killing dust mites but also their larvae (read my article about washing for dust mites).
The scent from essential oil helps discourage dust mites from colonizing bed sheets (I even use an essential oil spray on my bed). Eucalyptus essential oil is my preference because it only requires a few drops in the washer and has a strong smell, but there are many other essential oils that are effective against dust mites as well.
Can You Totally Kill Dust Mites?
Are you set on eradicating dust mites from your home? If so, your best best is to move to a high altitude or desert location, such as Denver or Albuquerque.
Dust mites absorb all their moisture needs from the air, so they can’t survive in low-humidity environments. When they are moisture deprived, they will huddle together and be less active (this is one of the reasons they like our pillows – sweat and drool provide them with enough moisture).
Conversely, dust mites thrive in humid locations like the Southern U.S. and Florida.
If moving isn’t an option, there are several things you can do to minimize the threat of dust mites.
- Cover your beds with dust mite proof covers. Breathable options are Mission Allergy and Allersoft (view on Amazon)
- Get rid of carpets, which provide an endless supply of dust mite food
- Switch out your pillow every year or two
- Use and air purifier for the home
- Minimize pets in the home (I know this is tough but they produce a lot of food for dust mites)
- Use a HEPA vacuum
- Dehumidifiers work great in hot, sticky months. They can take a gallon of water out of the air per day!
For children with dust mite allergy, the bed is the most important place to focus. After all, we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. Cover the mattress, comforter, and pillow with dust mite proof encasings and wash the sheets once per week with hot water and essential oils (my article on 7 must-have items for allergies).
For children with severe allergy, add an air purifier to the room and make sure the carpeting is removed. Having a fan on can make dust mites and their fecal matter become airbone and once airborne the can remain for hours while we inhale them without realizing it.
As someone who suffers from dust mite allergy, I’ve done everything I can to minimize dust mites and kill them in my home. I’ve looked into disinfectants, powders, sprays, and bleach.
I found that essential oils and hot washing work best.
I have found relief with making sure my bed is clean and the humidity is low. As a result, my allergies have improved dramatically over the past several years (with the help of allergy shots too).
Although chlorine bleach can kill dust mites, I don’t believe it’s the best option. Save bleach for the white laundry and those tough stains. By doing so, you’ll help out the environment too.
Dust mite allergies are on the rise worldwide. If you think someone in your family is suffering from dust mite allergy, take them to an allergist to be tested.
The test is harmless and will tell you whether or not you should be concerned about dust mites. Being tested was one of the best decisions I ever made.