(Last Updated On: April 28, 2023)

What Are Dust Mites and What Attracts Them?

Dust mites–tiny organisms that consume dead skin cells and produce allergens–are a frequent cause of indoor allergies. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and can cause allergic reactions. To reduce the number of dust mites in your home, it’s important to understand what attracts them, how they get inside, and where they live. 

Poor air circulation and high levels of moisture can create an ideal habitat for dust mites to reproduce quickly. The highest concentration is in areas where people spend most of their time. There are a variety of ways, however, to both prevent dust mites from growing in your home or reduce their population if you have them.

Dust mites in a pillow

What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that can cause uncomfortable allergy symptoms and asthma attacks. They thrive in warm, humid environments and feed on dead human skin cells. Dead skin cells are attractive to dust mites because they provide food sources that help them reproduce quickly. To reduce the number of dust mites in your home, it’s important to understand what attracts them and how they get inside.

High humidity levels attract dust mites because they require moisture to survive. Keeping your home below 50 percent relative humidity is key to preventing a dust mite population from forming. You should also avoid using carpets if possible since it tends to trap more allergens than other floor coverings, such as hardwood or tile floors.

It is important to wash bedding in hot water at least once per week as this helps kill any existing dust mite populations. It can be beneficial to use essential oils when washing fabrics or spraying furniture surfaces, which have been shown to be effective in killing dust mites.

How Do Dust Mites Get Into Your House?

Dust mites infiltrate homes via various channels including open windows or doors and air conditioning systems circulating contaminated air from outside. It’s also important to be aware of any items you bring into your home that may contain dust mites, such as second-hand furniture or used mattresses/pillows. To help prevent bringing dust mites into your house, it’s essential to inspect any item before purchasing it for signs of bed bugs or other pests. Washing all new items on a hot cycle in the washing machine is also recommended before bringing them into your home.

Where Do They Live?

Dust mites most frequently inhabit beds, mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture, and carpets or rugs. The highest concentration is in areas where people spend most of their time such as beds, especially mattresses. Dead skin cells accumulate on the surface of mattresses and pillows, providing an ideal environment for dust mites to thrive. Upholstered furniture such as sofas, chairs, and couches also provide an ideal habitat for dust mites due to their fabric materials that absorb sweat from human bodies and pet dander.

Dust mites are most comfortable in warm and humid environments, with temperatures of 20°–25°C (68°F–77°F), making our beds an ideal habitat. They need moisture to survive so they prefer damp areas such as bathrooms or basements with humidity levels of around 70% or more. They also require food sources such as skin flakes, pet dander, hair particles, and plant pollen.

What Do They Eat?

Human skin flakes make up the bulk of their diet but they have also been known to consume pet dander. Skin cells are constantly shed from our bodies so it’s impossible to completely eliminate this food source from our homes. However, regular cleaning and vacuuming floors with a HEPA filter can significantly reduce the presence of skin flakes.

Pet dander is another major source of food for dust mites. If you own pets, It’s a best practice not to allow animals onto furniture or bedding. Keeping windows closed during periods when pollen counts are high outside may also help limit dust mites.

Can You Feel Dust Mites Crawl?

No. Dust mites are too small to feel and they do not bite or sting like other insects. However, some people may experience irritation from dust mite allergens. Air purifiers with HEPA filters can reduce the presence of dust mites in the home.

Do Dust Mites Cling to Skin?

No. They typically live in bedding, carpets, furniture, and fabrics but they cannot attach themselves to human skin or clothing due to their size and lack of adhesive abilities.

Allergies and Asthma Caused by Dust Mite Exposure

Dust mite allergies are a common cause of respiratory issues and can have long-term effects if left untreated. Symptoms include itchy eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, facial pressure or pain, sneezing fits, coughing spells, and difficulty breathing. Asthma is also linked to exposure to dust mites. The most effective way to prevent these reactions is to eliminate the presence of dust mites in your home environment.

Tips on Preventing and Reducing Dust Mites

Dust mites can be a real nuisance in the home. Fortunately, there are several methods to both prevent and reduce dust mites in your home. The most effective way to prevent an indoor dust mite infestation is by reducing humidity levels inside the home or other enclosed spaces–using certified allergen-capturing filters on air conditioners or dehumidifiers. Reducing humidity levels is key because dust mites do not drink water; instead, they absorb moisture from the air, according to the American Lung Association.

In areas with low humidity, like deserts, dust mites cannot survive. Furthermore, make sure that windows are closed during humid weather conditions outside. Washing bedding regularly in hot water–above 130 degrees Fahrenheit–will also help prevent dust mites from taking hold as they cannot survive high temperatures. Floors should also be damp cleaned frequently to prevent any potential hiding spots from dust mites and other allergens. Be sure to clean back corners and crevices frequently where they can hide.

Additionally, vacuuming carpets and rugs on a regular basis will help reduce contaminants like pet dander that attract dust mites. Steaming upholstered furniture above 130 degrees Fahrenheit will help get rid of any remaining dust mite colonies that may have been missed during cleaning sessions. An air purifier in the home can also help prevent airborne allergens from growing.

How Does An Air Purifier Help?

Air purifiers aid in trapping airborne particles, such as pet dander, that attract dust mites. Air purifiers come in all shapes and sizes–from budget-friendly options to those with advanced features like HEPA filters and activated carbon filters–so it’s important to find one that meets your specific needs. Select an air purifier that will meet your specific needs in terms of budget, lifestyle preferences, and desired noise level.

For maximum efficiency, select an air purifier with a CADR rating that can clean the entire area of the room within 15 minutes. Additionally, look for features such as auto shut off when the filter needs changing or if the unit overheats; washable pre-filters that are great at trapping larger particles before they reach the main filtration system; multiple fan speeds so you can adjust the airflow according to need; timer settings which allow you set run time based on schedule and other advanced functions.

Frequently Asked Questions: What Attracts Dust Mites?

What Do Dust Mites Feed On?
Dust mites feed on dead skin cells, mold spores, and other organic matter found mostly in bedding, furniture, carpets, clothing, and mattresses.

What Makes Dust Mites Worse?
What allows dust mites to grow and proliferate are high indoor humidity levels and not regularly cleaning surfaces with a vacuum cleaner or damp cloth. Poor air circulation and high levels of moisture can create an ideal habitat for dust mites to reproduce quickly. Dust mite allergens can be released into the air due to activities such as vacuuming or even walking on carpets or furniture where they live.

How Do You Build Immunity to Dust Mites?
Dust mites can provoke allergic reactions, but it is possible to develop tolerance through reduced exposure. It’s important to regularly clean surfaces that may contain them, use air purifiers with HEPA filters, control humidity levels in the home, and wear protective masks when outdoors or around dusty areas. Additionally, immunotherapy treatments such as allergy shots may help reduce symptoms associated with dust mite allergies over time.

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