How to Get Rid of Dust Mites

By Amanda Lutz Updated June 11, 2024

Dust mites are small pests that invade humid homes to eat dead skin cells. They can quickly infest your home, trigger your allergies, or cause you respiratory distress. We’ll teach you how to spot a dust mite infestation, how to remove dust mites from your home, and how to prevent them in the future.

What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are less than 1 millimeter (mm) long and eat dust such as dead skin cells and pet dander. Female dust mites can lay 100 eggs, and the swarm will quickly expand throughout your home. You must act quickly once you discover them.  

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid climates, and homes with relative humidity levels above 70%. They gather primarily in kitchens, bathrooms, and closets with little ventilation, and are comfortable in fabrics, such as bedding, curtains, upholstery, and carpeting. A single mattress can house as many as 10 million mites.

Dust mites can worsen respiratory conditions and trigger short-term and chronic health conditions. Fortunately, they don’t bite humans.

Signs of a Dust Mite Infestation

Dust mite infestations can be hard to spot, and homeowners might confuse them for seasonal dust or more common allergens. Look for the below signs if you suspect a dust mite infestation:

If you see any of these signs, we recommend buying a home test kit from a local home improvement store, or scheduling a professional home inspection.

Health Risks of Dust Mites

Dust mites can cause unpleasant and potentially dangerous diseases; they also trigger the same type of respiratory inflammation as allergies. 

Dust mite allergens cause symptoms such as runny or stuffy noses, sneezing, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, chest pressure, and skin rashes. Your doctor can test you for dust mite allergies and offer you allergy shots, antihistamines, or immunotherapy for particularly severe allergies. 

Other health risks associated with dust mites include the following:

Dust mites can also cause sleeplessness and anxiety.

Dust Mite Removal Cleaning Methods

If you suspect you have a dust mite infestation, start by thoroughly cleaning your home to stop the propagation of dust mites. For severe infestations, you can also hire a pest control service.

Vacuuming Carpets and Upholstery

Dust mites accumulate in fabrics, carpeting, and upholstery. Vacuum these at the beginning of your cleaning process to eliminate large volumes of dust mites, dust mite feces, and bodies. Vacuum these items again at the end of the cleanup project to collect any dust mites that fell to the ground.

To clean your carpets and rugs, use a HEPA filter vacuum, and vacuum over the surfaces with long, overlapping strokes. Move the vacuum cleaner across entire surfaces in one direction, and then in the perpendicular direction, so that you reach all sides of the fibers.

To vacuum your upholstery, use a handheld vacuum or vacuum hose. Again, use long overlapping strokes, and be sure to get in between the fabric folds and creases. You can remove your furniture’s pillow covers to vacuum them, but this might release indoor allergens into the air.

Washing Bedding and Curtains

Next, it’s time to tackle your beds, blankets, pillows, and mattresses, which collect lots of dead skin cells. 

Begin by washing your bedding on the hottest cycle it can tolerate. Hot water—at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit—will kill the pests. Lightly spray your mattress with a mattress cleaning or dust mite spray, and thoroughly vacuum the sides and the box spring.

Wash your curtains in your home machine, or have them dry cleaned. If you cannot machine wash or dry clean your curtains, then spray and vacuum them using the same methods you used for your mattress.

Store the washed and dried bedding in a new, dry container. Consider rewashing all your stored bedding, and wiping down the closet or storage space by hand as extra precautions.

Cleaning Hard Surfaces

When you’re cleaning hard surfaces, don’t just dry dust shelves and other dusty surfaces (which can agitate dust and dust mites, and spread allergens). Instead, spray the surfaces with a mild cleaning agent or a DIY dust mite spray of vinegar, eucalyptus oil, and basil essential oil. Then, wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to trap the particles in the cloth.

Products for Eliminating Dust Mites

There are several different products you can use to kill and deter dust mites, including DIY sprays. Incorporate them into your routine cleaning regimen.

Dust Mite Sprays

Apply store-bought or DIY dust mite sprays to fabric and hard surfaces. The best sprays will explicitly mention dust mites. You can also create your own sprays from vinegar and herbal essential oils.

Mattress and Pillow Covers

Invest in allergen-proof mattress covers and pillow covers. They include layers that won’t allow dust mites to penetrate the fabric or the specially designed zippers. 

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers make your home inhospitable to dust mites by ventilating your spaces, removing dust particles and dead dust mites, and keeping indoor humidity levels at the ideal 30% to 50% range.

Look for air purifiers and air conditioners that use HEPA air filters, which capture the most dust particles and allergens. Place purifiers throughout your home, such as each bedroom, the living room, and any other busy or humid spaces.

Preventing Dust Mite Infestations

Cleaning frequently and purifying the air will help to prevent future infestations. We recommend adding the three practices below to your permanent cleaning routine to minimize the chance of having dust mites again.

Reducing Indoor Humidity

Dust mites require humid environments to thrive, so keeping your home dehumidified prevents them from getting cozy. 

You can reduce your indoor humidity with the following techniques:

Decluttering the Home

Minimize clutter in your home, which will afford dust mites fewer spaces to breed and lay eggs. Stuffed animals, extra pillows, and unused blankets can collect both dust and dust mites. 

Decluttering will also make it easier to keep your shelves and countertops clean and dusted. Store items you want to keep in hard plastic containers instead of fabric or cardboard boxes, where dust mites and moisture can gather.

Maintaining a Regular Cleaning Routine

We recommend thoroughly cleaning your home once a week. This includes vacuuming rugs and flooring, washing bedding, and dusting hard surfaces. Vacuum or clean your curtains at least once a month. These efforts reduce the risk of a big dust mite infestation.

Our Recommendation

Every home has dust, and almost every home can have dust mites. You can identify and cut down on dust mite infestations by regularly dusting, cleaning, and remaining vigilant. Maintain an aggressive weekly cleaning cycle to eliminate infestations, and clean dusty surfaces frequently to keep mites at bay.

Dust Mite Removal FAQ

What temperature kills dust mites?

The temperature that kills dust mites is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. You can dry steam clean or wash bedding and pillowcases to kill dust mites. Low temperatures can also kill the dust mite population, so consider freezing pillows or toys.

Can you see dust mites?

It is hard to see dust mites with bare eyes, but you can see them with a microscope or magnifying glass. You can also use a home test kit to identify a dust mite infestation.

How do I know if I have dust mites?

You know if you have dust mites if you experience increased allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose or asthma, smell increased mustiness, or see excessive dust. You may need to conduct a home test, or hire a professional inspection service to know for certain.

Does vacuuming get rid of dust mites?

Vacuuming can get rid of dust mites, but it’s rarely sufficient on its own. Use a combination of dust mite elimination efforts, such as spraying dust mite sprays, washing your bedding, and cleaning frequently, for the best results.

How long do dust mites live?

Dust mites live for between 60 and 100 days.