Are You a Dirty Person? Dust Mites May Think So
Does having dust mites in your home mean you are a dirty person?
Not exactly. Dust mites are well adapted to most areas of the world and, according to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, they are found on every continent but Antarctica. There is no sense in selling off your home and moving to the frozen tundra to prove you’re a clean person to your mother-in-law.
The dust mite feeds off the tiny flakes of skin we shed every single day. The average adult sheds about 1.5 grams of skin a day which feeds about 1 million dust mites easily. The logical thought would be to just stop ourselves from shedding or to exfoliate 24/7 to cut off their food source.
However, shedding skin is natural. Humans have three layers of skin: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the thin outer layer that produces new skin cells after the old ones have died. The dermis is the middle layer that contains your pain and touch receptors, as well as the blood vessels and hair follicles. The innermost layer is a subcutaneous fat layer that is made of collagen and fat to absorb shock and protect the body and internal organs (Ohio State University).
This skin can be considered our shield against the environment and is constantly evolving to provide the upmost protection to our vital organs. According to National Geographic, we shed around 40,000 cells per a minute to achieve this. Similar to snake, our skin completely renews itself every 35 days and we don’t even notice! (WebMD) Therefore, biologically there is nothing we can do to stop feeding the skin cells these dust mites feed on.
Just like biologically we cannot prevent dust mites form inhabiting our home. Mom cannot complain when she visits that you neglected to clean all the dust mites before her arrival. Now dust on the other hand is a completely different matter. To understand this, you must understand the difference between millions of dust mites living deep in your mattress and the dreaded forgotten “dust bunny” your mother finds under the couch.
Household dust is made up of three main components:
1) Dead skin cells we shed.
2) Tiny fibers off clothes and upholstered items.
3) Dried feces and desiccated corpses of dust mites (gross).
Therefore, dust mite waste is a component of household dust and, like the organism that created it, is microscopic. So the awful gray bunny that you find lurking in corners is visually a collection of household fibers. Having dust mites doesn’t mean that you’re house isn’t clean. They are in every house, no matter how immaculate it is kept.
However, do not feel entirely hopeless! It is entirely possible to contain the mites and reduce your exposure to their irritating waste products.
Start by investing in special dust mite covers, zippered mattress, box spring, and pillow encasings that either have a mean pore size too small to let their bodies and waste through or have a special urethane membrane fused to the inside that is allergen-impermeable.
Using dust mite covers is considered to be the most important step because studies have shown that mites live in the bedroom more than any other place in a house and the bed is their favorite place to live.
On a side note, vacuuming your mattress does not remove the mites - 95% remain afterwards because they live deep in the stuffing not on the surface. Also, waving a UV wand over your mattress will not kill dust mites either. They may kill some bacteria but will not kill the mite.
After you cover the bedding with dust mite covers, remove all dust mite friendly items from the bedroom: wall-to-wall carpeting, heaps of decorative pillows and stuffed animals, and hard-to-clean window treatments. If you love your carpet and upholstered furniture, treat it with a denaturing spray like Allersearch ADMS or X-Mite carpet treatment.
Preventing dust mites from dwelling in mass populations will cut back on the amount of dust that accumulates throughout your house. Even if you or your family members are not sensitive to the dust mite proteins, it is highly recommended by doctors that you treat your home.
Having dust mites doesn’t mean you are a dirty person but they sure can make for a dirty, unhealthy home.
Til Next Time!