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Ten years ago, if you asked me “where do dust mites live” I wouldn’t have known the answer. In fact, I had never heard of dust mites until I was diagnosed with allergies. I quickly learned where dust mites lived and I was shocked at the answer.
There are plenty of reasons you should know about dust mites. The main reason is that they live in close proximity to us. Yes, we share our homes with them!
But they can also cause health issues for our family in the form of respiratory and skin issues. People often experience symptoms and don’t understand the cause – this is what happened to me for 15 years.
In this article, we’ll look at the 5 most common places dust mites live and I’ll share a few ideas to make your home less inviting.
Why We Should Know Where Dust Mites Live
Also known as house mites or bed mites, and not to be confused with bed bugs (a larger, visible insect that bites), dust mites are a big part of our lives.
They’re microscopic and aren’t visible with the naked eye but they carry out an important ecological task of breaking down our waste, dead skin. Unbeknownst to most of us, dust mites go about their business each and every day in the most obvious places.
Living Preferences For Dust Mites
Dust mites prefer dark, warm and moist areas which make clothes, carpets, couches, blankets, pillows, and mattresses ideal places. The bed is the holy grail of places to live because we sleep in it 8 hours a day, providing body heat, moisture from sweat, and plenty of hiding places in the fabric.
Once dust mites find an adequate place to live they proceed to eat, reproduce, and defecate. The protein found in dust mites, whether alive, dead, or in feces, is actually what irritates humans and can cause dust allergy symptoms.
Therefore it’s important to know where dust mites live and to get rid of their presence inside the home.
#1 Dust Mites Live In Our Carpets
Carpets are soft to walk on and comfortable to lay on, but did you know that dust mites thrive in carpets? Carpets are a perfect place for dust mites to make a home for a number of reasons.
Carpets provide warmth
Carpets provide hiding places
Carpets provide plenty of food
Carpets provide more moisture than hardwood floors or tile
Carpets are notoriously filthy. They tend to catch and hold onto dirt and dust. If you’ve ever removed an old carpet you’ve likely seen the amount of dirt and dust lying underneath it. This is the perfect place for dust mites to live, eat, and breed.
Vacuuming regularly is wise, but it won’t reach a lot of the dirt and dust that is trapped in the lower layers of the carpet.
If you want to make your flooring less hospitable to dust mites then consider getting rid of carpets and rugs. I grew up with carpets and I know how comfortable they are, however, they contain so much dust that it can be unhealthy for sensitive individuals with allergies or asthma. If removing the carpets is out of the question, consider using a HEPA vacuum.
Whether you have a dust mite allergy or not, everyone needs a vacuum. The problem is most people don’t know what they are looking for in a vacuum. If you’re concerned with dust mites you should know what to look for, in particular, a High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance Vacuum, also known as a HEPA vacuum.
HEPA actually refers to the filter on the vacuum and if you don’t have a HEPA filter then its probably not catching aeroallergens like dust mites, pollen, and mold. Using a HEPA vacuum will clean your floors more thoroughly and give you peace of mind that microscopic dust mites are being captured.
#2 Dust Mites Live In Our Closets
Closets are usually dark and contain plenty of dust and fabric. This creates the perfect living environment for dust mites.
Don’t worry, dust mites won’t usually bother with freshly washed clothes. They prefer the dirty clothes that have sweat and a lot of dead skin flakes in them.
This means that dust mites will more commonly be found in dirty clothes laying on the floor. Your clean clothes are safe!
If you’re diligent about doing laundry then you shouldn’t have to worry about dust mites in your clothes. Practice cleanliness and don’t leave dirty clothes lying around your room.
#3 Dust Mites Live In Our Couches
Dust mites also love to live in couches. But not just any couch. Dust mites prefer cloth covered couches. Cloth acts similar to carpets because they catch dust and hold onto it.
We spend a good amount of time watching television on our couches so it’s understandable that we shed a lot of skin cells. Dust mites can live and breed in the cushions and feast on our dead skin cells.
Any easy fix is to get rid of your cloth couch and use leather covered couches instead. Leather is a smooth surface and doesn’t allow dust to penetrate the cushions.
Leather is also easier to clean than cloth covered couches. It’s easy to use a damp rag and dust a leather couch but that’s not possible for a cloth couch (maybe you’ll have to vacuum or remove the covers and put in the wash).
Once I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy my family got rid of our cloth couch and invested in a leather couch. The couch will last a decade and I feel much better.
#4 Dust Mites Live In The Air (alive, dead, and fecal matter)
Have you ever seen dust burst into the air after sitting on the couch? Have you ever hit two pillows together and seen dust erupt into the air?
What you see are dust mites, both dead and alive, and their fecal matter.
Dust mites are incredibly lightweight that they can remain suspended in the air for hours. Just walking on carpet or sitting on your bed can cause millions of dust mites to fly into the air.
Turning on the fan makes dust become airborne too!
2 things can be done to freshen up the air in your home.
HVAC allergy filters (for the whole house)
HEPA air purifier (best for the bedroom)
Filtrete makes filters ranging from basic to odor and bacteria filtering. Most people purchased the cheapest filter – and there lies the problem. The cheapest HVAC filter does nothing for allergies. In fact, it actually circulates dust mites and other allergies throughout the house.
Growing up I always wondered why my allergies were worse in the winter and summer when the heater and air condition were on. Once we started using stronger filters specifically made for allergies (see our Filtrete comparison here). My allergies improved immediately.
When we changed the filter after 5 months it was dark grey in color. Before using high-quality filters I must have been breathing all that dirt!
HEPA air purifiers can be a good investment for bedrooms, especially if you have a pet. Air purifiers can be stylish or basic, however make sure they have a HEPA filter. Some filters are reusable so you don’t have to buy over and over again.
Some air purifiers have automatic timers, others let you know when they should have their filters changed.
#5 Most Of All, Dust Mites Live In Our Beds
The number one place for dust mites to live is in our beds. Yes, you read that correctly!
Dust mites live in our beds because we provide a never-ending supply of dust (dead skin cells), warmth, and moisture. They can hide deep in our pillows, blankets, and mattresses too.
Most people won’t be bothered by dust mites in their bed, but people with allergies will suffer. For years I woke up with a congested nose, itchy eyes, and itchy skin.
It wasn’t until I was allergy tested did I realize that invisible dust mites were affecting my breathing and the quality of my sleep. With the advice of my doctor, I made some improvements to my bed.
Investing in dust mite proof covers will provide immediate returns for your health. It will prevent dust mites from going in or out of the pillow, mattress, or blankets.
Since most people experience dust mite allergy symptoms in bed, covering your bed with quality dust mite covers will help you sleep better, free from symptoms.
I recommend mattress cover encasings from Mission Allergy and Allersoft. Both companies use breathable fabric made with either cool microfiber or 100% cotton! They will protect your mattress and pillow as well.
Reduce The Population Of Dust Mites Living In Your Home
A final piece of advice is to use a dehumidifier if you live in a humid area
Years ago, I lived with my sister on the East Coast. In the summers it became so humid and during my time there I realized my dust mite allergy increased too. I eventually learned that dust mites obtain their moisture needs from the air, through absorption.
The more moisture they have, they more energy they have to reproduce. Now my sister uses a dehumidifier and captures over a liter of water a day…from the air. Take away humidity and you’ll help your dust mite allergy a lot!
Dust Mites Living In Your Home: How To Determine If They’re Causing Allergies?
Most people aren’t bothered by dust mites, however, a growing percentage of people are developing dust mite allergies. For example, when I was young I suffered from dust mite allergy but didn’t know it. I woke up with a lot of symptoms but I didn’t even know dust mites existed, let alone they were bothering me. I just assumed it was how I was born so I did my best to get through the days.
As I eventually found out, understanding dust mites and how they affect us can help us overcome our health obstacles by allowing us to plan and protect our homes. Even if you’re not allergic, dust mites can act as an irritant that mimics dust mite allergy symptoms such as a stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, puffy eyes, and skin rashes.
Regardless of being allergic or just sensitive, its wise to become educated on the microscopic creature to better protect you and your family. Check out this youtube video below by BYU researchers for a detailed look at the role dust mites play in our life. If insects make you squeamish, it might be hard to sleep after watching!
Most people don’t know where dust mites live. We’re ignorant because we can’t see them!
If you have a family it’s important to learn about dust mites because they could be impacting your health. Dust mites are a growing problem in Western society due to an increase in allergies.
So, where do dust mites live?
They live in 5 main places including:
To protect yourself, consider making changes to your home environment. A few small changes will have dust mites asking themselves “do I really want to live here anymore”.
Simple changes in the home can include using dust mite proof encasings, investing in an air purifier and HVAC allergy filters, a high-quality HEPA vacuum, and replacing your old carpet and old fabric couches.
All of these protectors are natural and chemical-free to make your home a less friendly place to live for dust mites.
I hope you enjoyed another article from Dust Mite Solutions. I aim to share my experiences, both successes and failures, so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. Thanks for reading!