Whenever we think of dust mites, we often think the common places they’ll be are hidden in our mattresses, sofas, dusty spots on the floors, carpeting or underneath furniture.
And even though we know how to clean every room in the home, there are hidden spots that often get overlooked — and where dust mites love to breed and thrive.
These tiny, microscopic pests feed off dead skin flakes shed by people and pets on a daily basis (gross!), and quickly multiply. In addition, dust mites are a huge problem for allergy sufferers, causing sneezing, wheezing, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. In which case, you might find that investing in one of the best air purifiers to filter and clean your air indoors, may alleviate symptoms.
And while it’s impossible to eliminate dust mites forever (sadly), there are ways you can reduce dust levels by knowing how to get rid of dust mites effectively. This includes targeting those surprising dust traps where mites love to thrive. Plus, the more clutter you have lying around, the more dust mites you’ll attract.
So, whenever you’re doing the household chores, don’t forget to tackle these places where dust mites are breeding in your home right now.
1. Fabric lamp shades
We don’t always notice dust on our lamp shades, but these can hide dust mites pretty well.
When cleaning with one of the best vacuum cleaners, be sure to use the brush tool to gently clean around and inside the lampshade. For those shades that are tricky to vacuum clean, a good tip is to use a mini lint roller. Rollers like this OXO Good Grips Reusable Lint Roller ($10, Amazon), allows dust and dirt to stick to the roller and remove easily.
Curtains can really refresh a drab-looking room, but they can also be a hassle to take down to give a good clean. And since we don’t often clean our curtains, these make the ideal breeding ground for dust mites. What’s more, everytime you open and close curtains, these only disperse most dust in the air — which is a nightmare for allergy sufferers.
Make it a point to vacuum clean using the long attachment, at least once a week to remove surface dust. While you can steam clean curtains, more often they will need to be taken down to machine wash or dry clean to keep in good condition.
Plus, if placed in high-moisture conditions, curtains are prone to mold spores, discoloration or easily absorb odors. So it’s important to deep clean curtains every three to six months, according to experts.
If you’re wondering whether to invest in blinds instead, check out blinds vs curtains: which is better?
3. Cushions and throws
Plush cushions, throws and soft furnishings can instantly add warmth and color to any room — but are also the ultimate dust trap for mites to breed. What’s more, each time someone rests their head or back on a dusty cushion, this will only transfer onto their clothes or skin and increase the risk of allergies.
Be sure to machine wash removable cushion covers and throw blankets once a month, while cushions or pillows every three to six months. Before cleaning, always check the care labels for guidance, and correct cycle/temperature.
4. In our clothes
Similarly, fibres in our clothes can attract a host of dust mites. In particular, our outdoor coats or jackets can collect dust mites over time, and when placed in a closet, can transfer onto other clothing.
Experts recommend to give your closet a good clean every season (four times a year), to ensure it's dust-free from the inside out. First, take out all the clothes and other items before using a vacuum cleaner. You can also manually wipe off dust or dirt on surfaces with a microfiber cloth — paying attention to those hidden spots, corners and railings.
In addition, it’s also ideal to place your closet in an area where natural sunlight can come through. Studies show that direct sunlight can eliminate the numbers of dust mites compared to those typically hiding in dark places.
5. Stuffed toys
If you have children, you’ll probably have an abundance of stuffed animals and toys lying around the house. However, these plush fabrics are the ultimate place for dust mites to breed and thrive in. Also, if your little one enjoys sleeping with (or sucking on!) their favorite toys, this might also cause potential health risks.
While some toys can be thrown into the washing machine, there are other simple ways to clean a stuffed toy. If washing by hand, fill the sink with lukewarm water, adding a few drops of dish soap before mixing well.
Place the toy in the water, and gently scrub clean using a soft cloth and soft-bristled brush. After cleaning, wring out the soapy water before rinsing well. Wring out and leave to air dry in a sunny or a warm spot.
Another method is to place the toy in a large plastic bag, add a cup of baking soda and shake it around for about 10 minutes. The abrasive texture will help to lift and loosen any dirt and dust clinging onto the fibres which will fall into the bag. Then take the stuffed animal out and comb through the fibres to ensure there’s no baking soda residue.
6. Pet beds
Since dust mites love to hide in dark, warm and humid environments, pet beds are the ideal place. The warmth of your pet’s body provides the heat dust mites need to breed.
Even having one of the best dog bed’s can still accumulate fur, mud, grease and sweat, along with other potentially unpleasant and smelly build-ups. That’s why it’s so important to know how to clean a dog bed and reduce the number of dust mites.
As a general rule, vacuum clean your dog bed once a week, with washes every two to four weeks. Plus, this will be a more pleasant environment for your pup to rest in.
Also, if you've yet to buy one, here are 5 tips for buying a dog bed.
7. Door mats
We all use our door mats on a regular basis, and these are notoriously hard for keeping clean. Plus, with all the foot-traffic that they see, it’s likely to have picked up a host of dirt, grime and dust mites over time.
Luckily, it's not too much of a chore. While dry vacuuming should be done weekly, it won’t effectively deep clean the fibres. Experts recommend steam cleaning and shampooing mats and rugs to give it a thorough clean.
What’s more, the high heat of the steam will quickly kill dust mites living in mats and carpets. Ideally, this should be done once a month. Before steam cleaning, always check the care label of your rugs/mats to ensure it won’t get damaged.
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As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features.
Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.
With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!