How to Get Rid of Dust Mites? 11 Effective Natural Ways

Simple & Effective Tips to Get Rid of Dust Mites Naturally

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites? 11 Effective Natural Ways
Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Dust mites are small mites that feed on dead skin and mold. They are all over your home and lurking everywhere. Since these mites are responsible for many allergic reactions due to their bites and feces, you should try to clean your home often to get rid of dust mites.

So, if you have allergies to dust mites, read on to know how to get rid of dust mites naturally.

How to Know If You Have Dust Mites

You need to know that everyone has dust mites in their homes. And, you won’t get rid of all the dust mites as it’s pretty much impossible.

That said, there are ways to reduce their numbers. This will help to reduce the coughing, sneezing, itching, and other allergic reactions associated with dust mites.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites Naturally

Here are some suggestions for natural ways to get rid of dust mites.

1. Wash and Vacuum Your Bedding

Your bed is a breeding ground for dust mites for two reasons. First off, your bed tends to be a dark, warm, and humid place that provides a good home for dust mites. Secondly, people shed their skins cells at night usually in their beds, which give the dust mites a ready source of food.

So, cleaning your bed area is a great idea to reduce dust mites.

Washing and drying your sheets at 140°F (60°C) can help reduce dust mites as they can’t survive prolonged hot temperatures. Doing this will also remove their fecal matter as well as the dead skin that they consume.

Be sure to vacuum the mattress before you put the sheets back on the bed. And, pay special attention to the crevices of the bed where your dead skin cells might be trapped, as the mites might be living there.

2. Use Anti-Allergy Mattress and Mattress Cover

Using an anti-allergy mattress and mattress cover can also help reduce the dust mites in your home. They act as a barrier between you and the dust mites, which means fewer skin cells make it to their mouths. It also reduces the number of dust mite allergens coming from the mattress to your skin.

3. Do Not Make Your Bed

This flies in the face of everything your parents tried to instill in you. But, not making your bed can actually help you with dust mites.

Just pull the sheets right off and let them air out. Doing this will reduce the moisture and humidity that help dust mites survive.

4. No Pets on the Bed

Dust mites are not picky about what their food source is. In addition to human skin cells, they also love feeding on pet skin cells as well. So, if you let your pets into your bedroom and on to your bed, you are providing the dust mites with more food. Simply limit the time your pet spends in the bedroom and on the bed.

Also, keeping your pets well-groomed can help reduce the amount of dander spread around the home.

5. Get Rid of Your Carpet

Carpets are also a good breeding ground for dust mites. Carpeting can not only trap dead skin cells from you, but also from your pets along with their dander.

Hard wood and laminate flooring will not contain those materials nearly as much. However, since replacing carpet can be costly, the other alternative is to vacuum on a regular basis.

6. Control the Temperature of Your Home

Dust mites have a comfort zone of temperature and humidity. They thrive in temperatures between 75 and 80°F (or 24 and 27°C) and humidity of around 70 to 80%.

So, keep temperatures at 70°F and below, as well as humidity below 70% to make it harder for the dust mites to survive.

7. Eucalyptus Oil as a Deterrent

Eucalyptus oil is an essential oil that seems to have a pretty deadly effect on dust mites. It can help to reduce the number of dust mites in your home when used as part of a liquid solution.

Add 20 drops of eucalyptus oil to your wash for added dust mite extermination. You can also mix 30 drops in a spray bottle with water and spritz it around the house to deter dust mites from continuing.

8. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth comes from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. It’s often used in hydroponic gardens and can also be used to help reduce dust mites in your home.

Diatomaceous earth seems very soft to us humans, but to small and microscopic bugs, diatomaceous earth is razor sharp. Simply sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the house and on your bed. Leave it there for a few hours before vacuuming it up.

9. Soft Furnishings Can Be Trouble

Soft curtains, cushions, pillows, and even stuffed animals can make good homes for dust mites as well. Especially if they are in areas that don’t receive a lot of cleaning or dusting.

If you truly want to reduce dust mites in your home to a minimum, replace all of these soft furnishings with hard ones. Of course, this is really hard to do and also borders on ridiculousness. However, these are good places for dust mites to survive.

Curtains are a dust mite’s debris haven. So, anytime you fling them open, you are throwing that debris into the air. And, each time you flop on to the couch, the dust mite debris also goes into the air.

If getting rid of these furnishings is not an option, try steam cleaning them on a regular basis. The steam will kill any dust mites as well as clean out their debris. As for stuffed animals, make sure you clean them regularly.

10. Open Your Windows

Many of us have air conditioning in our homes, but sometimes, just opening the window can help with dust mites. Circulating the air and increasing the air flow in your home can help control humidity and reduce the amount of dust.

11. Clean Your Home Often

The best way to keep dust mites at bay is to disturb their living areas and food sources. And, the easiest way to do that is to clean your home regularly.

Dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping on a weekly basis won’t get rid of all the dust mites, but it will keep them and the allergens they produce down.

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Dust Mites Will Always Be There

Dust mites are everywhere, and they are so small that you can’t even see them. That said, keep in mind that you will never get rid of all of them. Just work with the idea of reducing their effect and numbers.

If you suffer from allergic reactions to dust mite debris and feces, then getting rid of them should be your top priority or obsession. Be sure to clean your home regularly and make changes where you can. Control the temperature and humidity in your home, and change and wash your sheets once a week. Following these tips may make a drastic difference in your home.


Mites are very small, ranging from 0.5 to 2.0 mm in length; there are thousands of species, of which many live on animals. Like ticks, they have eight legs and a body with little or no segmentation. In most species there are egg, larval, nymphal and adult stages. The immature stages are similar to the adults but smaller.

Some mites are important vectors of rickettsial diseases, such as typhus fever due to Rickettsia tsutsugamushi (scrub typhus) and several viral diseases. Mites can present a serious biting nuisance to humans and animals. Many people show allergic reactions to mites or their bites. Certain mites cause a condition known as scabies. The major mite pests discussed here are:

— biting mites (vectors of scrub typhus);
— scabies mites;
— house dust mites.

Biting mites

Numerous species of mite are parasitic on mammals and birds and occasionally attack humans. Their bites can cause irritation and inflammation of the skin. One group, the trombiculid mites, transmits typhus fever due to R. tsutsugamushi in Asia and the Pacific. Only the trombiculid mites are described here, the biology and life cycle of other biting mites being similar.


Adult trombiculid mites are about 1-2 mm in length, bright red or reddish-brown in colour, and of velvety appearance. The nymph is similar but smaller. The larvae, also called chiggers, are very small, being only 0.15-0.3 mm in length (Fig. 4.30). Neither the adults nor the nymphs bite animals or humans; they live in the soil and feed on other mites, small insects and their eggs. The larvae, however, feed on skin tissue.

After emerging from the eggs the larvae crawl onto grasses or low-lying vegetation and leaf litter to wait for an animal or human host. They attach themselves to the skin of reptiles, birds, mammals and humans walking or resting in the habitat. On humans they seek out areas where clothing is tight against the skin, the waist and ankles being the parts most commonly attacked.

The larvae remain attached to the skin of the host for between two days and a month, depending on the species. They then drop to the ground and enter the soil to develop into the harmless nymphal and adult stages.

Mites have a very patchy distribution over small areas because of their special requirements. The nymphs and adults need certain soil conditions for their survival and development while the larvae require host animals, such as wild rats, other small rodents and birds. Suitable habitats are found in grassy fields, shrubby areas, forests, abandoned rice fields and cleared forests. The mites are also found in parks, gardens, lawns and moist areas alongside lakes and streams.

The larvae wait on leaves or dry grass stems until an animal or human passes by. People usually become infested after walking or standing in mite-infested areas. Bamboo bushes are favoured by the mites in the tropics and subtropics.

Public health importance

The bites can cause severe itching, irritation and inflammation of the skin (scrub itch). They usually occur on the legs. At the site of a bite the skin swells slightly and turns red. In the centre a red point indicates the location of the chigger. Because chiggers are invisible to the naked eye, most people are not aware of their presence until bites appear.

Biting mites can transmit a number of rickettsial and viral diseases to humans but only the most important one, scrub typhus, is discussed here. It is caused by Rickettsia tsutsugamushi and causes an acute fever, severe headache and lymphadenopathy.

At the site of attachment of the infected mite a primary skin lesion consisting of a punched-out ulcer covered by an eschar commonly develops before the onset of the fever attack. Depending on a number of factors the mortality rate is in the range 1-60%.

Distribution and transmission

Scrub typhus occurs mostly in low-lying rural areas of Asia and Australia (Fig. 4.31). It was very common in troops during the Second World War. The disease occurs most frequently in people visiting or working in mite-infested areas in scrub, overgrown terrain, forest clearings, reforested areas, new settlements and newly irrigated desert regions.

Treatment, prevention and control

Infected persons can be treated with tetracycline or its derivatives. Prevention is possible by avoiding contact with mites. The chiggers can be controlled by spraying of residual insecticides in woodland or bush areas, although this is expensive.

Control measures

Prevention of bites

Biting can be prevented by avoiding infested terrain and applying repellents to skin and clothing. Openings in clothing can be treated by hand or spray. A band of 1-3 cm is normally sufficient. Benzyl benzoate, dimethyl phthalate, deet, dimethyl carbamate and ethyl hexanediol are effective repellents. Under conditions of frequent exposure the best protection is given by impregnated clothing and by tucking trousers inside socks. Where vegetation is low it is sufficient to treat socks and the bottoms of trouser legs. The clothing can be treated with one or a combination of the above repellents or with a pyrethroid insecticide (see Chapter 2) providing more long-lasting protection, even after one or two washes. Deet and dimethyl phthalate have been shown to be the most effective repellent compounds against some mite species (50, 51).

Removal of vegetation

The control of mites by killing them in their habitats is very difficult because of the patchy distribution of their populations. If it is possible to identify the patches of vegetation that harbour large numbers of larval mites (mite islands), it may be advantageous to remove them by burning or cutting and then to scrape or plough the top-soil. Mowing grass or weeds in these areas also helps. Such measures are recommended in the vicinity of camp sites and buildings.

Residual spraying of vegetation

Where the removal of vegetation is not possible, mite islands can be sprayed with residual insecticide. The spraying of vegetation up to a height of 20 cm around houses, hospitals and camp sites is effective against grass mites in Europe. The insecticides can be applied as fogs with ultra-low-volume spray equipment. Some suitable compounds are diazinon, fenthion, malathion, propoxur and permethrin (52).

Scabies mite

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, causes an itching condition of the skin known as scabies. Infestations with scabies are common worldwide.


The mites are between 0.2 and 0.4 mm long and virtually invisible to the naked eye (Fig. 4.32). Practically the whole life cycle is spent on and in the skin of humans. In order to feed and lay eggs, fertilized females burrow winding tunnels in the surface of the skin. The tunnels are extended by 1-5 mm a day and can be seen on the skin as very thin twisting lines a few millimetres to several centimetres long.

Fig. 4.32. The scabies mite. With a length of 0.2-0.4 mm it is hardly visible to the naked eye (by courtesy of the Natural History Museum, London).

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites? 11 Effective Natural Ways

Development from egg to adult may take as little as two weeks. The females may live on people for 1-2 months. Away from the host they survive for only a few days.

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Scabies mites are commonly found where the skin is thin and wrinkled, for instance between the fingers, on the sides of the feet and hands (Fig. 4.33), the bends of the knee and elbow, the penis, the breasts and the shoulder blades. In young children they may also be found on the face and other areas.

Public health importance

Scabies is usually transmitted by close personal contact, as between people sleeping together, and during sexual intercourse. Dispersal mostly takes place within families and if one family member becomes infested it is likely that all the others will follow suit. The mites are unlikely to be acquired by someone sleeping in a bed previously used by an infested person, but may be passed on in underclothes.

Scabies occurs throughout the world in persons of all ages and social groups. In some developing countries up to a quarter of the population may be affected. It is most common in young children. Outbreaks of scabies are frequently reported from places where people live in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions (e.g. refugee camps) and where there is poor hygiene, such as in poorly maintained prisons and nurseries.

Initially a small, slightly elevated, reddish track appears, which itches intensely. This is followed by the formation and eventual rupture of papulae and tiny vesicles on the surfaces of the skin. Scratching causes bleeding and leads to the spread of the infestation. Vigorous and constant scratching often results in secondary infections, giving rise to boils, pustules and eczema.

A typical scabies rash can develop in areas of the body not infested with mites. This occurs mainly on the buttocks, around the waist and on the shoulders, and is an allergic reaction.

In newly infested persons the itching and rash do not appear until about 4-6 weeks after infestation but in previously infested individuals the rash develops in a few days.

A rare form of the disease is Norwegian scabies, which is associated with an immense number of mites and with marked scales and crusts, particularly on the palms and soles. It appears to occur more frequently among people with immuno-deficiency disorders (especially HIV infection) than among immunocompetent patients (5456).

Scabies infection can be confirmed by scraping the affected skin with a knife, transferring the material to a glass slide, and examining it for mites under a microscope. The application of mineral oil facilitates the collection and examination of scrapings. Another method involves applying ink to infested skin areas and then washing it off, thus revealing the burrows.

It has recently been discovered that ivermectin, which is used in the treatment of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, is also suitable for the treatment of scabies infections. It is administered in a single oral dose of 100-200 mg per kg of body weight (5759).

Conventional treatment methods aim to kill the mites with insecticide (see Table 4.5). Information on how to make and apply the formulations is provided on pp. 259-261. After successful treatment, itching continues for some time but eventually it disappears completely. Treatment of all family members is necessary to prevent reinfestation.

Most treatments provide a complete cure but sometimes a second application within 2-7 days is needed. Overtreatment should be avoided because of the toxicity of some of the compounds.

Commonly used insecticides are lindane (10% lotion), benzyl benzoate (10% lotion), crotamiton (10% cream) and permethrin (5% cream). The latter is now considered the treatment of choice because of its high efficacy and the low risk of associated side-effects (55, 6062).

Controlling Dust and Dander in Your Home

Asthma For Dummies

Allergen avoidance begins at home. Although avoiding or limiting exposure to allergens and irritants outside — as well as at work, school, or other indoor locations — is important, avoidance therapy can actually have the most beneficial impact in your home.

On average, most of us spend one-third of our lives in the bedroom — much of that time in bed. Because we spend such a large amount of time in our bedrooms, your bedroom is the most important single area in your home.

In and around your home, the most common and important sources of allergens that you should focus on when allergy-proofing are

Busting the dust

House dust is one of the most prevalent allergy triggers in any home, and unfortunately, it’s everywhere. Think of house dust as one of life’s inevitabilities — along with death and taxes. House dust can trigger allergy symptoms either as an irritant to sensitized target organs (such as your eyes, nose, or lungs) or as a result of the specific allergens often contained in house dust.

Studies show that the average six-room home in the United States collects 40 pounds of dust each year.

Note, however, that dust is not dirt, nor is it an indication of poor housekeeping. House dust is a normal breakdown product of fibers found in pillows, drapes, clothes, linens, and other furnishings at home, work, school, or even in your car.

Allergy-proofing your bedroom and home likely involves dealing with dust mites more than with any other allergy trigger, because these microscopic creatures produce the single largest component of house dust that triggers allergies. Eighty percent of patients with allergies test positive for sensitivity to the dust mite allergen. The dust mite allergen is also the most significant allergic trigger of asthma attacks.

Although you’ve probably never seen them, dust mites are a fact of life — they’re bound to follow almost anyplace you settle. These tiny spider relatives live in house dust where they feed on human skin scales (hence the scientific name dermatophagoides, meaning skin-eater), which we constantly shed (up to 1.5 grams per day — that’s a lot of dust mite chow). The fecal matter (or waste, to put it more delicately) that they produce, at the average rate of 20 particles per day, is the most prevalent form of house dust allergens.

Although eradication of these natural inhabitants of your home is virtually impossible — the females lay 20 to 50 eggs every three weeks — you can take practical and effective steps to minimize exposure to dust mite allergens.

Taking the following measures often results in a significant decrease in allergic symptoms and medication requirements for patients with allergies or asthma.

  • Beds: Encase all pillows, mattresses, and box springs in special allergen-impermeable encasings, and mount all beds on bed frames. Wash all bed linens in hot water (at least 130 degrees) every two weeks. Use pillows, blankets, quilts, and bedspreads made only of synthetic materials. Avoid down- (feather) filled comforters and pillows.
  • Climate control: Don’t locate your bedroom in a humid area such as the basement. Likewise, use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent. You may want to use a humidity gauge to monitor humidity levels.
  • Carpets and drapes: If possible, go for the bare look in your home — remove carpeting and thick rugs. Bare surfaces such as hard wood, linoleum, or tile are inhospitable to dust mites and are also much easier to clean, thereby minimizing dust buildup. If you can’t remove your carpeting and rugs, treat them with products that inactivate dust mite allergens. Washable curtains or window shades rather than heavy drapery or blinds also are wise alternatives.
  • Housekeeping: Vacuum thoroughly, at least once a week, with a HEPA or ULPA vacuum cleaner. If you have allergies, wear a dust mask when you clean or engage in any activity that stirs up dust. Also, consider cleaning your furniture with a tannic acid solution.
  • Ventilation: Use HEPA air cleaners to keep the indoor air throughout your home as pure as possible. Cover any heating vents with special vent filters to clean the air before it enters your rooms.
  • Decorations and furnishings: Use furniture made of wood, vinyl, plastic, and leather throughout your home instead of furniture made of upholstery. Likewise, make your bedroom as uncluttered and wipeable as possible. Avoid shelves, pennants, posters, photos or pictures, heavy cushions, and other dust collectors. Limit the clothes, books, and other personal objects in your bedroom to the essentials, and make sure that you shut the ones you keep in closets or drawers when not in use.
    If your child has allergies or asthma, don’t make his or her bedroom a stuffed animal zoo — try to limit those types of toys to a few machine-washable ones. Keep your child’s stuffed animals and toys in the closet or in a closed chest, container, or drawer when not in use.
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Regulating pet dander

Pets are cherished members of many households. However, dander (skin flakes) from these animals is a significant source of allergy triggers for many people. All warm-blooded household pets, regardless of hair length, produce proteins in their dander and saliva that can trigger allergies. Dead skin cells in their dander can even serve as a food supply for dust mites. Cat dander residue can linger at significant exposure levels in carpets for up to 20 weeks and in mattresses for years, even after you remove the animal.

If finding a new home for your pet is not likely, try the following measures:

  • Keep your pet outdoors whenever possible.
  • If keeping your pet outdoors isn’t possible, by all means, keep the pet out of the allergy patient’s bedroom.
  • Make sure that anyone who touches your pet washes his or her hands before contacting the patient or entering the patient’s bedroom.
  • Washing your pet with water once a week may remove surface allergens and possibly reduce the amount of dander that can stick to other household members’ clothes and body (thereby reaching the patient’s bedroom). Although it may take some training (and a few scratch marks), even cats can get used to baths.

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Dust mites

Dust mites are mostly found in the house and commonly trigger symptoms in people with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or eczema, who are allergic to them. There are ways you can help to reduce the number of dust mites and their allergen (the substance they produce that causes allergy), as well as to control allergic symptoms.

What are dust mites?

Dust mites belong to the same family as spiders and are so tiny you can’t see them without a microscope. They feed on discarded human skin, house dust, and other microscopic food sources such as pollen and fungal spores.

Dust mites don’t bite or sting. However, their bodies contain a strong allergen, and they also shed droppings and skin.

Where are they most commonly found?

Dust mites are mostly found in homes with higher humidity levels and constant warm temperatures, so they are more common in coastal areas of Australia than in inland, dry areas.

In the house, they live in layers of dust that have settled, particularly in high traffic areas. Because they feed on discarded skin cells, they are also commonly found in the bed and bedroom. When you are making your bed, they can become airborne and settle in other areas of the house. They also like to live in soft furnishings such as couches, curtains, and deep carpet.

There tend to be more dust mites during changes in the seasons, when people are often spring-cleaning their houses. This can affect people who are allergic to them.

How can dust mites affect your health?

Many people who have asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis or other allergies are allergic to dust mites. The allergen created by dust mites can trigger symptoms of their condition.

If you suspect that you are allergic to dust mites, it is important to confirm that dust mites are a trigger for your asthma or allergy. Allergy tests such as a skin prick test or specific blood tests will help to determine this. However, a positive test does not mean that the dust mite will trigger your symptoms. Talking to your doctor and understanding the times and seasons your symptoms are triggered will help you know if dust mites affect your asthma or allergy.

How can you reduce dust mites?

The allergen is present both in the mites as well as in their droppings and discarded skin cases. So, it is important to try to reduce all of these. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to completely remove dust mites from the house, and you will need to do more than one thing to reduce their numbers and effect.

The best place to start is in the bedroom:

  • Wash sheets and pillow cases every week in water hotter than 60 degrees Celsius (60°C). This will kill the dust mites and remove the allergen. If you can’t use hot water, try a commercial washing product containing tea tree or eucalyptus oils, which kills dust mites and can be used in cold water.
  • Open the curtains and allow sunshine into your room and, if possible, your bed. Dust mites don’t like bright light.
  • Put dust mite-resistant protective covers on your mattress, doona and pillows. These need to be washed every 8 weeks.
  • If you don’t have protective covers, wash blankets and doonas every 3 months.
  • Remove sheepskin underlays from your bed.
  • Remove pillows and soft toys from the bedroom or wash them every week. Soft toys can be put into the freezer to kill the dust mites, but this will not remove the allergen.

  • Replace fabric curtains with venetian blinds or shutters to make them easier to clean. If you can’t do this, wash curtains regularly, if possible.
  • Vacuuming will not completely remove all dust mites or allergens because mites burrow deep into thick carpet. However, it will reduce their numbers so it should be done weekly. It is more effective to vacuum dust mites and droppings from hard surface floors. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum cleaners may remove more allergen than a standard vacuum cleaner. As vacuuming lifts and swirls the mites and allergens around the room, someone else may need to do this and you should avoid entering the room for 20 minutes afterwards.
  • Reducing the overall humidity of the house and increasing air circulation may help to keep dust mites at a lower level.
  • Use a damp or electrostatic cloth to dust hard surfaces.
  • If possible, use vinyl or leather lounges rather than fabric.

What are the symptoms of dust mite allergy?

If you have a diagnosed allergy to dust mites, your symptoms will depend on whether your condition is asthma, eczema, hay fever or another allergic condition. Your doctor will work with you to help manage your symptoms, which may involve asthma or allergy medicine, as well as avoiding the dust mites.

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe immunotherapy, which involves gradually increasing doses of the dust mite allergen to help reduce the severity of symptoms. This can take 3 to 5 years of treatment to be effective.

Further information and help

To get help managing your asthma, eczema or allergy symptoms, or to test if dust mites trigger your allergic condition, see your doctor.

Alternatively, call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse.

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