(I may earn a small commission on the products linked to in this post.)
Did you know your pillow is full of dust mites? It can be disturbing to think about dust mites and their presence in our pillows.
But don’t worry, there are methods to reduce dust mite populations. Ensure you sleep well, free from dust mite allergy symptoms.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy did I learn the importance of bed hygiene. I grew up with old pillows and blankets. My mentality was simple; a pillow would last a long time, maybe a lifetime right?
On a few occasions my family washed them and hung them to dry but I don’t remember ever buying a new pillow. I never realized that my bedding could be affecting my sleep and overall health.
Are you one of the people who wake up with allergy symptoms because your pillow is full of dust mites? Face and sinus symptoms include:
- Chapped lips,
- Swollen eyes,
- Itchy skin, and a
- Stuffy nose
Many people experience these symptoms but can’t discern the cause. You might wonder why you feeling bad and attribute it to growing pains, or seasonal weather.
I Was Affected By Dust Mites In My Pillow
While in school I looked at other people and wondered why no one else was experiencing similar symptoms as me. I even went to the doctor and was told I was fine.
As I grew older my symptoms became worse. I had breakouts of eczema and was always tired.
The fatigue is what bothered me the most. I would sleep for 10 hours and still wake up exhausted. I was an athlete so I had a built-in excuse for my fatigue – overtraining – and I assumed that I was always tired because I trained hard.
Eventually, I went to college then started working as a professional. I stopped playing sports and I was surprised that my symptoms became even worse.
I felt like my body was letting me down. At my wit’s end, I went to an allergist and discovered my bedroom allergy, the dust mite.
Much More Than Just Dust Mites In My Pillow
Yes, there are millions of dust mite in our pillows, but there are way more dead dust mites and fecal matter. Yep, you are resting your head on invisible poop and you’re likely inhaling it when you breathe.
It’s not the live dust mite that causes an allergic response. It’s the protein found in live, dead, and fecal matter. Even if you were to kill all the dust mites in your pillow, the allergy-causing protein would remain.
Consider this: We spend up to 8 hours in bed every night, which equates to about 1/3 of our life. Given that we spend so much time in bed it’s only right that we make sure our beds are clean and safe, especially for younger children with developing immune systems.
Why Do Dust Mites Love Pillows
Dust mites love bedding because they need 3 things:
- Food (human dead skin and animal dander)
You might be thinking “beds don’t have moisture”, but the moisture comes from human sweat at night (even though it may be little).
Dust mites breed quickly, defecate, and hide in mattresses, blankets, and pillows. Another important point is that dust mites can’t be seen with the naked eye. Even with perfect vision, we can’t see them (only under a microscope).
According to the British healthcare provider Barts, the weight of a 2-year-old pillow could be made up of 33% dead dust mites (aka bed mites and house mites) and their feces. Imagine inhaling dust mites every night!
Clean Your Pillow Routinely (And Freeze It To Kill Dust Mites)
Ensure you have a healthy sleep by cleaning regularly and protecting your bedding. Regular washing using anti-allergen laundry detergent and essential oils can get rid of dust mites and their larvae.
The first step I recommend is freezing your pillow for 24 hours. The Mayo Clinic says to freeze pillows because freezing temperatures will kill all dust mites that are alive.
Dust mites are a resilient bunch and have a tendency to survive being washed. Freezing the pillow will kill them and make washing more effective.
Of course, you can also wash the pillow with essential oils like eucalyptus oil which also kills live dust mites (learn more about washing dust mites here).
Once the dust mites are dead, a thorough washing will rinse away feces, dead mites, and their larvae.
Washing is simple but it’s also wise to trade out your pillow for a new one every year. If you think buying a new pillow every year is expensive, ask yourself how much your health is worth (a 20 dollar pillow is less costly than allergy pills and lotions).
Protect Pillow With a Dust Mite Proof Encasing
The single best thing you can do to prevent your exposure to dust mites is to use dust mite proof protective covers on your mattresses, pillows, and blankets.
Dust mite-proof encasings are available in many types. Some are primarily for moisture, others specifically for allergy.
The best dust mite-proof covers for allergies are made of 100% cotton or microfiber. These fabrics allow the body to breathe at night, where-as moisture covers use a plastic-like cover to keep mattresses and pillows dry.
My experience with moisture covers has been uncomfortable, however, the better quality microfiber and cotton dust mite covers are excellent and also keep your mattress looking new.
I recommend Mission Allergy and Allersoft as the best covers to protect from dust mites.
Initially, I purchased the cheapest pillow encasings and mattress encasing, however, I learned quickly that it was a bad idea. At the suggestion of my doctor, I took a look at Mission Allergy products and I immediately found results in a better night’s sleep.
It’s been 4 years since I addressed my dust mite allergy and I’ve made significant changes in my life to reduce dust mite exposure.
For Severe Dust Mite Allergies Take Steps to Purify Air
Most of these changes took place within the home and bedroom with my bedding and flooring (no more carpet). I also realized that allergy filters like air purifiers and HVAC filters play a large role in reducing indoor pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says indoor air can sometimes be 2-5 times worse than outside air.
I suggest trying a Filtrete Allergy Filter in your HVAC system and taking a before/after photo for dust. In my case, the filter went from white to dark grey in just 3 months, disgusting! We did a Filtrete comparison to show you the differences.
Of note: it is impossible to have “dust mite bites“. If you’ve been bitten, it’s likely beg bugs or a spider. Dust mites can cause diffuse rashes, like eczema.
Thinking about where to get the best dust mite pillow covers and vacuums? I have you covered! I also have reviews to help you chose the best products for your family!
Your pillow is full of dust mites. Some are alive, many more are dead, and there are millions of fecal deposits weighing down your pillow.
Have you noticed that your pillow feels heavier than it did when you first purchased it? If so, it may be time to wash it. Before you throw it in the washing machine freeze it overnight.
This will kill the live dust mites and it will make sure they don’t survive the wash.
The reason you need to wash your pillows frequently is because dust mites can cause allergies. Even if you don’t have allergies they can irritate your skin, cause breathing problems, and eye and nose problems (conjunctivitis and rhinitis).
For people with allergies, it’s extremely important to wash and use an allergen-proof pillow cover.
It may be difficult for you to sleep after reading this article but remember, we can’t see dust mites and they won’t bite us. They are microscopic recyclers that only eat our shed skin.
Since I began washing and covering my mattress and pillow I’ve noticed a decrease in my dust mite allergy symptoms. Now that your aware of dust mites take the necessary steps to protect yourself.