Challenge Day 52: Defeat Dust Mites

fight dust mites in the bedroom

New Year Cleaning Challenge Day 52

They swarm in our homes, making life miserable for the allergic: dust mites! Living in bedding, carpet and floating in house dust, dust mites and their droppings are unwelcome companions in any home.

Our bedrooms are prime hangouts for these microscopic pests. How to keep them in check?

Try these tips to show dust mites the door in your organized home, with today's New Year Cleaning Challenge assignment.

Today's Assignment
Take Action Against Dust Mites

Each night when you sleep, you're joined by thousands of tiny, unwanted intruders: dust mites! Feeding on skin flakes, they hang out in mattresses, pillows and bedding--not to mention bedroom carpets.

For many of us, their droppings create an allergic reaction; but for most of us, the thought of mites in our bed makes our skin crawl.

How to reduct the dust mite hordes? Try these tips to cut down on dust mite populations in your master bedroom.

Make the Mattress Off-Limits

For dust mites, mattresses and pillows are the place they call home. Wall off favorite breeding grounds with mite-proof mattress and pillow covers.

These plastic protectors will prevent access to the interior of your bedding. Restricting their real estate is the first line of defense in the war against dust mites.

For the allergic household, wipe down mattress covers weekly with a damp cloth when you change the bedding. You'll remove any stragglers that may have moved in in the week since the sheets were changed.

Wash Bedding In Hot Water

Washing sheets, pillowcases and blankets in water that is 130-degrees or hotter kills dust mites, so launder accordingly.

To make it easy, restrict colorful bedding "decor" to bedspreads, bedskirts and pillows, while restricting sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers to white cotton.

All-white linens can be washed with chlorine bleach to remove stains and sanitize your bedding.

With color on the outside, white on the inside, you'll sleep sweetly, but still keep your decorator look.

Dust and Vacuum Often

Dust mite droppings don't restrict themselves to bedding alone; they're also found in carpets, clinging to fabric window treatments, and floating as dust in the air.

A thorough weekly dust-and-vacuum session works to remove migrating dust mites from the bedroom. Start at the top with dusting cloth and extension duster, and sweep dust down to floor level, where the vacuum can remove it.

Stop Making the Bed

A final tip, beloved by children: stop making the bed!

The BBC reports the recommendation from a 2005 study by researchers at Kingston University. Since dust mites need moisture to survive, tucking up the sheets and comforter the moment you leave the bed traps that life-giving substance inside the bedding.

Better, the scientists report, to turn back the coverlet and sheets when you wake up, and allow moisture to evaporate from bedding for several hours before you make the bed. Dust mites are less likely to survive when bedding is thoroughly dry.