Allergies. They come in all shapes and sizes, stem from a plethora of sources and manifest themselves in a broad range of intensities. From a few sniffles and the occasional AHH-CHOO to those chest-beating, airway-seizing “hack attacks,” one thing is clear: Allergies are not pleasant. Sure, you can pop a few pills or get some preventative shots, but it’s much smarter to attack allergies at their root. And that means using some hygienic (and professional) muscle against the mighty dust mites.
The key to managing allergies caused by indoor allergens like dust mites? First, understand what they’re all about. Then, reduce exposure as much as reasonably possible — and that means calling in a professional restoration, repair and cleaning service.
Out of sight, out of might? Not quite.
Dust mites have been living amongst us for quite some time, but the little buggers weren’t actually discovered until 1964. How did they evade the all-seeing eyes of science?
Dust mites are tiny — invisible to the naked eye. They live in furniture, cloth and pillows. So just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Defined as microscopic arachnids, resembling “tiny spiders,” dust mites reach a climactic length of about 1/3 mm — hence their low profile. They have eight legs, they’re blind and they naturally live inside. Good news, though: Their pesky presence doesn’t mean your house is dirty. And that’s because standard cleaning procedures, like everyday vacuuming and dusting, simply don’t scare them off.
- Dust mites have sticky pads at the ends of their legs, giving them the ability to attach firmly to fibers and, therefore, scavenge deep within carpeting, upholstery and mattresses.
- Most mites that are found in houses are from the Dermatophagoides family, with pteronyssinus and farinae being the most pervasive species.
- Fun facts: Dermatophagoides is a Latin word meaning “skin eating.” Pteronyssinus and farinae, also rooted in Latin, mean “feather loving” and “flour,” respectively.
- Dust mites do not bite, spread disease or live on humans. (Phew.)
- But don’t let out that sigh of relief just yet. Mites live off microscopic fragments of human skin cells, fungi and bacteria. And since each of us sheds about 50 million skin cells a day, they’re set when it comes to their nutrient supply. (Shudder.)
- They do, however, incite some nasty allergies in many people — not the mites themselves, just the waste they leave behind.
- 90% of patients show dermal reactivity to dust mite detritus, while 10% of the general population is sensitive to their fecal matter and skin shedding.
- House dust contains 15 potent allergens that sensitize and trigger allergic reactions. Dust mite waste is recorded to make up 80-90% of this allergic component of house dust.
- American Family Physician tells us that “controlling dust mites is the most important thing you can do in your house to make your asthma and allergies better.”
What do dust mites like? HUMIDITY.
- Dust mites thrive in warm places with lots of humidity. Their ideal temperature ranges from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the common range for the great indoors.
- They literally can’t drink liquid, so they’re completely dependent on the humidity surrounding them for water. A relative humidity above 55% makes a mite mighty happy.
- You have to do more than monitor humidity to control these micro pests. As humidity falls, dust mites do retreat. But even when conditions get arid, it takes quite some time — a few months, in fact — to eliminate the population. Only the deep-seeping, high-steaming power of water extraction experts is going to dry things up enough to wipe them out.
So how do you fight off your dust mite plight?
Professional cleaners and restorers have high-powered equipment, hypoallergenic cleaning agents and pre-conditioning, shampooing and water extraction products that are specially designed to fight off mites. You can install all the dehumidifiers you want and go crazy with your vacuum on an hourly basis, but you’re not going to make any headway against these micro menaces unless you call in the experts.
Click the button below to put some might in your “mite fight” with AOA’s professional cleaners, repairers and restorers.