Housedust and Mites
The fundamental problem with housedust and mites ("HDM") is that they live on human skin scales. We constantly shed dead skin onto our clothes, carpets, soft furnishings and bed clothes and the mites flourish on this free supply of food. Furthermore, a centrally heated home provides the perfect temperature and humidity for house dust mites to multiply.
Getting rid of mites means attacking on several fronts:
- The single most important aspect to tackle is humidity. HDM cannot survive in dry air, which is why a combination of excellent ventilation and warmth will clear them. The bedroom window should always be open for free circulation of air. Background heating will further dry bedclothes. Always draw back the bed covers in the morning so the bed can thoroughly dry (or leave the electric blanket on). On good days hang the duvet/blankets out of the windows (like the continentals do).
- Removing as much soft furnishing as possible so that the mites have nowhere to hide and can be sucked up by the vacuum cleaner - soft toys are often the worst offenders.
- Killing the mites by extremes of temperature (either a hot wash or pushing the blankets/duvets/pillows into the deep freeze).
- Windows open.
- Avoid carpets - go for wooden, lino, stone or tile floors.
- Do not have too much furniture (which accumulates dust).
- If you can afford it, consider buying a Medivac vacuum cleaner. This filters out dust and mites most effectively. A note from your doctor allows you to reclaim the VAT. Please see here also Allergy Best Buys - medivac vacuum cleaner Medivac's registered address is:
72 Kennedy Avenue Macclesfield Cheshire SK10 3DE
- Keep pets out of the house.
- Keep wet out - dry clothes outside if possible, cook with the window open to let steam out, air the bathroom thoroughly after use.
This is the main difficulty because we spend almost a third of our lives in a warm bed - ideal for breeding dust mites. However, it does take a while for the population of mites to build up and this is the key to keeping numbers down.
Bedding Have two sets which you alternate between. Use a hot wash to kill the mites in bedding, then either hang out to dry on a windy day to blow away the debris, or use a tumble drier to blow the dead particles away.
Pillows, duvets and blankets can be put into the deep freeze to kill the mites, then hung out to air, or put through the tumble drier.
Mattresses are a problem - ideally these should be covered with plastic to stop mites penetrating them. To prevent sweating put a blanket on top (which is treated in the same way as bedding above).
Each night put a fresh clean towel over your pillow to reduce inhalation of mites.
Put soft toys through the wash, or if this causes offence, into the deep freeze when the owners are at school.
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