Throw your mattress away?
“Is your mattress full of dust mites? Then throw it away and come buy a new one from me!” That is not good advice. Buying a new mattress would solve the problem for about 6 months, until new dust mites had made a home for themselves in your new mattress. The dust mites come because you grow new skin; they feed on the old skin that you shed. The salesman would be happy selling you a new mattress every 6 months, but Consumer Reports says that you need to replace your mattress when it is no longer providing you comfort, not when it gathers dust mites.
To keep dust mites from bothering you while you sleep in your bed, here’s what you need to know:
- Encase the mattress and pillow with a special cover that zips up and keeps the dust mites and their allergen away from you. You then put your sheets and pillow case on top of the covered mattress and pillow. But don’t stop there. That is a good start, but effective treatment means also:
- Controlling humidity. The growth factors for dust mites are heat, and humidity. Dust mites cannot drink water; rather, they absorb moisture from the air. Relative humidity below 50% helps minimize growth of dust mites.
- Wash your sheets in HOT water. Wet heat kills dust mites. Once every week should do it.
- If possible, replace any bedroom carpeting with a hard, washable surface, such as tile, wood, or Pergo. Carpeting provides an ideal home for dust mites.
- Vacuuming carpet only throws the dust mite allergen up into the air for 30 minutes. Mites cling tightly to carpet fibers, and no vacuum has ever been shown to reduce dust mite levels enough to actually make a patient’s symptoms better. Of course, the Carpet and Rug Institute disagrees on this point, but it seems as though they employ the same Junk Science experts who used to work for The Tobacco Institute. What the Practice Parameters actually say is, “Carpeting is best removed from the bedroom and replaced with smooth finish wood, tile, or vinyl flooring.”
Note: Information contained in this article should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified allergist to address individual medical needs.