Lots have been said about dealing with dust mites, dust mite prevention, the risk of dust mites and allergies related to them, and so on. But where do dust mites come from and how do you get dust mites in the first place? One can be excused for thinking that dust mites just spawn out of thin air but, of course, that’s not the case. So, what causes dust mites? Does everyone have dust mites in their homes?
That last question has a lot of inconclusive answers and “studies” that try to support them but the short answer is “No – not every home has dust mites.” The reason some are lucky enough to be dust mite-free isn’t that they have stopped dust mites from entering their homes, however, but because they have – intentionally or not – made their homes an inhospitable environment for dust mites.
Dust mites need several things to thrive:
- A nice, warm temperature of about 21 °C or 70 °F or slightly more.
- Relative air humidity of 50% to 70%.
- A dark environment that is devoid of direct sunlight.
- Bountiful food sources, i.e. – us.
Fortunately for us, dust mites feed on dead human or pet skin and don’t actually feed off of us same as their close relatives, fleas, and ticks, do. Unfortunately for us, we can’t help but shed dead skin every day so we are literally creating the dust mites’ food source on a daily basis. Fortunately, once we become aware of all this we can counteract it by cleaning our homes and creating an inhospitable environment for dust mites to spread.
But with all this out of the way – where do dust mites come from in the first place?
How you can get dust mites in your apartment or house?
When looking for causes of dust mites one should expect them to just enter your home the way other parasites do. Ticks usually attach to us while we are outside, fleas jump on our pets while we are walking them outside, cockroaches and other insect pests just enter our homes from any hole, nook or crack they find.
Dust mites, however, don’t really thrive outdoors. The outdoor world often reaches lower temperatures, it is subjected to a lot of direct sunlight, and can have a fluctuating – and often too low – air humidity. What’s more, the outdoor world doesn’t offer a regular and reliable food source in the form of dead skin and dust particles.
So, instead of entering our homes from the outside, dust mites typically enter our homes by attaching themselves to us, our clothes and our luggage when we visit other indoor places. Places such as:
- Other people’s homes.
- Hotels, motels, and other such establishments.
- Office buildings with upholstered furniture and the right environment for dust mites to thrive in.
- Public transport’s seats as well as other cars and vehicles with dusty and unclean sets.
- Cinema theatres, restaurants, and other establishments with cushion seats.
As you can see, we can’t really avoid visiting places that might have a dust mite presence. Tools such as luggage dust mite proof covers can help lower the risk of bringing dust mites home and diligently washing our clothes when we get home is important as well. However, it’s important to note that as much as we lower the risks of bringing dust mites in our homes, we can never be 100% certain that no dust mite will ever enter the premises.
That’s why it’s important to always maintain a high level of cleanliness in your home and to reduce the presence of dust as much as you can. If your home is not a friendly environment for dust mites that they will be unlikely to thrive in it even if some occasionally accompany you home from work or from a trip.
Aside from cleaning your home and keeping it dust-free, the other most important step is controlling the humidity. As sources such as the American Lung Association confirm, humidity is as important for dust mites as their food sources. Because dust mites don’t drink water as we do and instead rely on absorbing moisture from the air, lowering the relative air humidity in your home is a great way to make sure that dust mites will never thrive in it.
How you can get dust mites while traveling?
Traveling is the easiest way to bring dust mites in your home, together with having other people over for a visit. Going to hotels, motels, restaurants or even using public transport are all sure-fire ways to come in contact with dust mites. Poorly maintained establishments, in particular, are often filled to the brim with dust mites. If you can, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you visit higher-end and well-maintained hotels, as well as that you use transportation that is properly cleaned and kept dust-free.
Even if you use public transportation, however, simply not sitting in dirty and unwashed seats can make a huge difference when it comes to getting dust mites. In hotels, using luggage dust mite proof covers can help keep the little critters away from your luggage, although you’ll still need to be careful with where you sleep.
Where in our homes do dust mites settle?
Once they get into our homes, dust mites can find lots of places to settle in. The bedroom is the main target of dust mites as both mattresses and pillows offer them everything they are looking for – warm temperature, high humidity, and lots of human dead skin showering them every night. That’s why using protective dust mite proof mattress and pillow covers is a good idea for so many homeowners.
Outside of the bedroom places such as unclean carpets and curtains, as well as poorly-maintained couches, sofas and other furniture can also be great breeding grounds for dust mites. Even just clothes left on a chair for too long can quickly become the homes of millions of these microscopic parasites.