Dust Mite Allergy
House dust contains tiny pieces of fabric, dander, plant matter and creatures so
small that they can not be seen by the human eye. These tiny creatures are called
house dust mites. Dust mites are present in all homes, no matter how clean. They
do not live on humans but live in bedding, upholstered
furniture, carpet and stuffed toys. They live in warm, humid
places and feed on dead skin cells that fall off of the human
body. If dust mite waste particles are inhaled or come in
contact with the skin of a person who is allergic, they may
cause runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, wheezing and skin
Dust Mite Control
The best way to control reactions to dust mites is to not be exposed.
Unfortunately, it is hard not to come in contact with them. It is possible to reduce
the amount of exposure by making certain changes, especially in the bedroom.
Controlling Dust Mites
• Enclose mattresses, box springs and pillows in zippered, dust mite proof covers.
The cover label should list protection against dust mite allergens. The fabric
weave should be 2-10 microns, though this is not always listed.
• Wash sheets and pillow cases weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
• Wash blankets and stuffed toys twice a month in hot water and dry in hot dryer.
Water temperature needs to be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Humidity level in the home should be less than 50%. Use a dehumidifier or air
conditioner if needed. An inexpensive hygrometer can be purchased at any
hardware store to keep track of humidity in the home.
• Wood or vinyl floors are better than carpet.
• If you have carpet, vacuum weekly, using a high efficiency filter bag.
• If a dust mite allergic person has to do the vacuuming, a mask should be worn.
• Stuffed animals should be washable in hot water.
• Limit clutter in the bedroom.
• All dusting should be done with a damp cloth.
• Use window blinds that can be wiped down, rather than curtains.
Dust Mite Facts
• Dust mites live where people spend most of their time--in bed or on favorite
• Dust mites need to feed to stay alive.
• Dust mites live in warm, humid places.
• Dust mites do not live in air ducts in homes. Duct cleaning will not reduce
numbers of dust mites. Filters on the heating/cooling systems or the vents will
not control dust mites though will help reduce dust in the home.
• Cleaning is helpful to reduce the amount of dust but will not change the source or
numbers of dust mites.
• Chemicals and sprays are not needed and will not have a lasting effect on the
numbers of dust mites. They can also be harmful to family members with
Some sources of mattress/pillow covers:
• Kohl’s Department Store
• Bed, Bath and Beyond
• Online-- www.NationalAllergy.com
More information about dust mites may be found on-line at:
Spanish version is #6332
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©1/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6180.