Taking steps to aggressively control dust mites in the children’s bedroom and rest of the home may reduce the occurrence of allergies and asthma.
Read more: How healthy is your bedroom?
- Never use feather pillows, duvets or eiderdowns, but rather synthetic foam or polyester/acrylic filled bedding.
- Cover the pillows with a air-permeable protector, but not vinyl. Vinyl acts as a barrier to house-dust mite, but movement of the head and the body on the pillow causes a “ballooning effect, which creates a high pressure jet of allergen bearing air which then escapes through seams and stitching.
- Replace foam pillows every six months.
- Place the pillows and the mattress in the sun for five hours every week to kill the mites.
- Cover the mattress completely with a plastic, vinyl or micro-porous material – use shower curtaining and sew up or seal the ends. The disadvantages of vinyl covers include: SA’s hot climate makes it hot and uncomfortable, instead of cool and dry to prevent the mites from breeding.
- Lightweight air permeable bedding protectors have been recognised as a significant advance in the war against house-dust mites, according to the ALLSA.
- Wash the mattress cover regularly.
- Turn your mattress monthly. If possible place in the sun every week for five hours.
- If you have double bunk beds, let the asthmatic child sleep on the top bunk.
- Wash bedding at 60 degrees Celsius to destroy mites.
- Pull the bedcovers back in the morning to allow the bed to air thoroughly.
- Avoid padded headboards and cot bumpers for babies.
Read more: Your mattress is alive!
Carpets and vacuum
- Vacuum bedroom carpets and all other carpets where children play, daily.
- Vacuum the whole house at least twice a week.
- Vacuum cleaners without efficient filters will disperse allergens.
- Very few living house-dust mites are sucked up because they have claws to keep them in place. “Wet” vacuum cleaning is more effective.
- Damp dust at least twice a week.
- Polish wooden floors with wax regularly to seal them.
- Keep soft toys to a minimum and store them in a cupboard.
- Remove dust collecting books, dried flowers, thick curtains, blinds, upholstered furniture, or keep them very clean.
- Select closed bookcases and cabinets.
- Wash soft toys every month at 60 degrees Celsius.
- Place them in the freezer for six hours every week.
- After freezing, vacuum them to remove dead mites.
- Make sure the room is well aired every day. Keep the bedroom windows open when possible.
- Keep furry pets out of the bedroom.
Keep humidity down
- Avoid creating excess steam in the bathroom by running cold water first. Keep the door closed.
- Keep windows open.
- Do not use humidfiyers or ionisers.
- Electric blankets in winter will help eradicate mites from the bed.
- Use externally vented tumble-dryers to avoid increasing humidity levels in the home.
- Use ventilator extractor hood or extractor fan when cooking, or open a window and close the doors to the rest of the house.
Chemical sprays to kill mites
- Chemical sprays like benzyl benzoate, tannic acid, bromopol and others can kill mites. Use them regularly.
- Dead mites can be vacuumed up more easily. This must be done.
- Conventional insecticides are of no benefit and can aggravate allergic symptoms, according to the ALLSA.
(Health24, updated April 2014)
Post a question to EnviroHealth expert
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)
National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP)