Dust Mites and Bedbugs: Dust mites and their droppings are one of the leading causes of year-round allergies and asthma. If you wake up with red, itchy bumps on your body, you may be suffering from dust mite allergies. Other symptoms include sneezing; coughing; stuffy or runny nose; red or watery eyes; and itching of the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, or throat. Here are some simple and effective natural cleaning tips that will help you get dust mites out of your home for good.
Protect yourself when you clean. Allergy sufferers benefit from living in a clean home, but cleaning can also make allergies worse, as dust and other allergens become airborne as you clean. If you’re allergic to dust mites, pollen, dander, or other allergens, wear a filtering face mask when cleaning to reduce exposure.
Don’t make your bed. Finally, an excuse to be lazy! Dust mites love humidity. Airing out your mattress and bed covers will allow humidity to evaporate from your bed, making the area less favorable for dust mites and bacteria growth. After you get up in the morning, pull the covers back to let heat and humidity escape. You can always come back and make your bed later if you like.
Wash bedsheets in hot water. Dust mites can’t survive temperatures higher than 130°F to 140°F. Wash sheets and blankets once a week and other soft furnishings, such as rugs, cushions, and throws, once or twice a month.
Control heat and humidity. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions. If you live in a humid area, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels in your home below 50% (the ideal humidity in your home is between 30% and 40%). Keep room temperatures between 65°F and 72°F, especially in the bedroom where dust mite populations are highest. Bonus: cooler temperatures also help you sleep better!
Make your own dust mite spray. Dust mites hate the smell of certain essential oils, including eucalyptus, clove, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, basil, and lemongrass. Make your own repellent spray by filling a spray bottle with water and adding a few drops of one or more of these essential oils. A mixture of basil and lemongrass oils is a great combination for repelling dust mites, fleas, and lice. Spray your bed, and let it air-dry. Be careful using essential oils around children and dogs, since they may be sensitive to certain oils. Never use essential oils around cats and birds.
Dust with a damp cloth. Dusting with a dry cloth won’t get rid of dust mites. In fact, dry dusting can actually cause them to become airborne and aggravate allergies even more. Dampen a clean cloth with water or DIY cleaning spray to stop dust mites in their tracks.
Cover your mattress and pillows. Keep dust mites and other pests and allergens off your sleeping surfaces with mite-proof covers. Simply launder covers, as needed, to keep your bed fresh and clean.
Put your pillows in the freezer to kill pests. Washing your pillows can cause them to break down before their time. To kill pests without washing, put your pillows in a plastic garbage bag, and throw them in the freezer for a few hours every month.
Vacuum often. Vacuum rugs, mattresses, pillows, drapes, upholstery, and other soft items in your home at least once a week using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to trap airborne dust particles.
Lose the clutter. Clutter collects dust—and, therefore, dust mites! To clean up your space, try to adopt a more minimalistic approach to decorating. Reduce the number of unnecessary objects like knickknacks, stacks of paper, magazines, and books in your home. Clearing clutter will not only help you fight dust and dust mites; it will also make it easier to clean your home and may even reduce your stress levels!
Introduce air-purifying houseplants. Houseplants can have many benefits, including purifying the air, giving your home a pop of vibrant color, and even helping you get more restful sleep at night. Just like other surfaces in your home, your houseplants can accumulate dust and provide a cozy home for dust mites, so make sure you dust their leaves to keep pests and allergens at bay.
Clean air vents. Dust and dust mites can build up in your air ducts, causing dirt, dust, and allergens to continually circulate throughout your home. Keep vents clean by regularly vacuuming and wiping them down with a damp cloth. Use high-performance filters designed for allergen reduction, and change them regularly to keep household air clean.
Change your flooring. Homes with bare floors have up to 90% less dust than carpeted homes! Choose wooden floors or tiles instead of carpeting, and decorate with rugs that can be washed regularly.
Clean up after pets. Pets with fur or feathers release dander, which is a prime food source for dust mites. Groom pets outdoors, if possible, and keep them off human bedding and couches. Regularly wash pet beds and blankets in high heat, and cover pet beds with allergen-proof covers. Pets can also suffer from dust mite allergies, so it’s important to keep their living spaces clean too.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth. Apply food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) powder to the affected area. Let the powder sit for a few hours, and vacuum it up along with all the dead dust mites and other bugs and insects it came in contact with.
Once your bedroom is infested, bedbugs are difficult to get rid of, but luckily, natural remedies are just as effective as commercial chemical treatments and are much safer and more cost-effective. How do you know you have bedbugs? Check for them around your mattress and furniture. Since they’re much bigger than dust mites, you can see them with the naked eye if you look closely, and they leave behind telltale blood smears and black fecal matter on your linens and mattress. Bedbugs also feed on you while you sleep, so you’ll probably suffer from bites and rashes.
Get out the steam cleaner. Just like dust mites, bedbugs can’t live in high temperatures above 130°F. Steam clean your linens, mattress, furniture, curtains, floors, and other soft surfaces. You can buy steam cleaners in stores and online, or rent a commercial unit from a professional exterminator.
Launder all washable fabrics. Strip your bed. Wash and dry all your bedding in hot water, then store in sealable plastic bags or bins until your bedroom is completely treated.
Vacuum everything. Thorough vacuuming is very effective against bedbug infestations. Use your vacuum’s crevice tool to get in tight spots. Vacuum your mattress and between your mattress and box spring. Put a total encasement mattress cover on your bed to protect your mattress. If you have a carpet cleaner, use it to deep clean the carpets. Once you’re done vacuuming, immediately empty the bagless canister or throw away the bag, and take the garbage outside to keep the bugs from escaping back into your home.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth. Wear a face mask to prevent breathing in the dust, and sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth all over your mattress and box spring and around the legs of your bed. Sprinkle it onto flooring, and work it into carpets. Let it sit for as long as you can—a couple of weeks is great! Then vacuum thoroughly to remove the powder and dead bedbugs. Use a wet/dry vac to clean up diatomaceous earth if possible since it can harm regular household vacuums and even burn up the motor with repeated use.
Repeat. Since bedbugs are so difficult to get rid of, you’ll probably have to repeat these steps at least a few times until the infestation is completely gone. Be vigilant. If you’re consistent, you will win.
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