Dust Control with an Air Purifier
One must reduce the concentration of dust-borne allergens in the living environment by controlling both allergen production and the dust which serves to transport it. For the bedroom environment, you will want to use some or all of the following methods. We have listed them in order of practicality combined with effectiveness.
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- The most effective means is to enclose the mattress top and sides with a plastic cover, thoroughly vacuuming mattress pillows and the base of the bed. Put an airtight plastic or polyurethane cover over your mattress. This tip is number one for a reason; it is in your bed (including the baby's crib) that you are closest to the mites and their feces, and enclosing the mattress and pillows in a dust mite cover virtually eliminates the mites here.
- Wash your sheets and blankets in very hot water at least every two weeks. Wash your pillow every week, or put a plastic cover on it. (The pillowcase goes over the plastic cover.) How hot is hot? The water used to wash your sheets and blankets should be at least 130°F (54°C). For fabrics that may not be washed in hot water, just pop it into the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to kill dust mites.
- Reduce Temperature and humidity: Dust mites love warm, humid conditions, above 70 F (21 C) and 50% humidity.
- Temperature: Keep the thermostat in the house below 70 degrees.
- Humidity: Effective control of mites would require the maintenance of relative humidity's below 50 percent. A study (Feb 2005) by Kingston University (London UK) shows that simply by leaving your bed unmade each morning, with the sheets to be exposed to the air, allows the sheets to dry out, and substantially reduces the numbers of dust mites. Some researchers feel it is important to focus on decreasing indoor humidity, especially during the winter period to reduce dust mite populations. One might forsake humidifier use during winter periods (or limit it to the bedroom only at night, then ventilate the room during the day). It will help to use dehumidifiers during high-humidity periods, or use central air conditioning. So if you use a humidifier in the winter, adjust it to produce 35% to 45% humidity. And generally, homes that have their air conditioners on constantly in the summer and dry heat in the winter have lower mite counts than non-air conditioned homes.
- Clean weekly: Weekly change pillowcases, sheets, and under blankets, and vacuum the bed base and around the covered mattress. Clean flooring: Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth or broom, since this just stirs up mite allergens.
- Clean daily: Daily damp dust the plastic mattress cover.
- Frequently wash all bedding (blankets, mattress pads and comforters) in hot water (130 degrees F [or 60°C] weekly). Cold and warm water won't kill mites. Also wash curtains.
- Remove carpeting and replace with wood, tile, linoleum, or vinyl floor covering. Remove cloth drapes and blinds. (If you have carpet, vacuum every day.) Vacuuming your carpets and upholstery every week can help. See the caution about vacuuming below under tips. Vacuums with high-efficiency filters pick up more dust mites, but even standard vacuums work well enough.
- Freezing and sunlight kills mites but does not remove their residue. In addition to freezing temperatures and washing items in temperatures greater than 130 degrees F, extended exposure to sunlight, and low levels of humidity, also destroy the mites.
- Children's soft cloth toys: Regularly place soft toys in the freezer for 24 hours before you wash them, or wash them in hot water. Removing them, or at least reducing the numbers of them on the beds, will help, too.
- Air Purifiers: Most filters remove 50 to 70 percent of material. HEPA filters will remove up to 99 percent of the material; not just dust mite feces, but also all types of other allergens, like animal dander, dust, pollen, cockroach feces, etc...
- Furnace Air Filters: Clean or replace the air filters on your furnace or air conditioner at least once a month. Filters that are rated to trap allergens are obviously more effective than plain spun glass.