Most people are not affected by dust mites due largely to the low ambient humidity levels (below 50% RH) in most homes there is generally no significant problems with dust mites or associated allergens, which are attached to their fecal pellets. Increase the level of humidity and you begin to provide ideal conditions for mites to thrive.
You might say I’ll just keep the humidity low and there will be no problems! However there’s one area often overlooked when dealing with dust mites and excessive humidity.
Our mattresses and pillows are the exception to this low humidity rule. We humans provide mites with a plentiful source of food, (dead skin cells), of which we shed some 300,000 skin cells on any given day.
Since we spend about eight hours in bed, a large amount of these skin cells wind up in the mattress, they sift down through the sheets as we toss and turn. Further, our bodies generate high amounts of humidity and moisture during the night, by means of perspiration, trapped body heat, and of course breathing; an oasis for our nocturnal bed fellows.
While dust mites serve to remove dead skin cells they also cause contamination and allergens in the process. It has been estimated that upwards of 2 million dust mites inhabit the average bed mattress, which produce, on average, 20 fecal pellets each per night…40,000,000 daily. These fecal pellets (although even smaller than our microscopic friends) contain a protein from the stomach of the mite, which causes an allergic reaction when the pellets are inhaled by humans; particularly children and asthmatics.
Now imagine after a few years of neglecting your mattress how much dead skin, dust mites (dead or alive) and fecal pellets have accumulated inside your pillows and mattresses. It’s been said that as much as 10% of the weight of a mattress is the accumulation of the above mentioned nastiness.
There are steps that you can take to reduce and control dust mites: vacuum the mattress at least once a month, using a HEPA filter equipped vacuum. Steam clean and sanitize your mattress at least once a year or after steam cleaning it purchase a mite resistant cover for the mattress. This is also a great idea for your pillows also. The best way to vacuum a pillow is by placing it into a plastic bag, insert the vacuum hose and turn on the vacuum.
Bed mattresses are often over looked as an item that requires routine cleaning, let alone bi-monthly vacuuming and steam cleaning; unless of course you have severe allergic reactions or live with an asthmatic. Then of course this type of maintenance is as routine as placing your pillow in the freezer during the daytime hours.