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Dust Mite Control – a System Approach That Works

By HHI Staff

Controlling dust mites, like most other home challenges, involves thinking about the whole home. Here are tips to avoid being part-smart:


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Dust Mite


IICRC Highlights Strategies for Reducing Asthma Triggers


As a common chronic disease, asthma affects more than 35 million people, including 6 million children. Each year, it causes more than 2 million emergency room visits and 500,000 hospitalizations. To help minimize asthma complications, the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), offers cleaning tips to help minimize asthma triggers - as part of the solution.


“A primary trigger of asthma is found in dust mite droppings— something that can be significantly reduced through cleaning practices,” said Scott Armour, an environmental health science specialist. “Dust mites survive on skin cells. The skin cells are shed by the people in the house and simply land everywhere – in the carpet, on shelves, everywhere you see dust. It’s really amazing how many times we find lots of skin cells on samples when we test the indoor air quality of homes and offices. The skin, and the mites, are everywhere,” added Armour. “Dust mites and other allergens can be controlled and significantly reduced with proper cleaning using the right methods and equipment. An effective cleaning program can drastically improve conditions for asthma sufferers.”


The IICRC recommends the following cleaning tips to reduce asthma triggers:


1) Don’t rely on disinfectants: Often, people believe using a disinfectant will reduce asthma and allergy triggers. However, more thorough methods such as carpet cleanings, dusting and extraction are required to remove dust mites and other contaminants that prompt asthma attacks.


2) Empty vacuums frequently: To ensure dust mites stay at a minimum, empty vacuum bags before they are full. When bags are roughly 1/3 to 1/2 full, empty them so vacuums can stay fully effective in the removal of dust mites and other debris.


3) Dust frequently: Dusting is important in the removal of dust mites. Dust all surfaces on a frequent basis using microfiber cloths, as these will be effective in capturing many asthma triggers. Also, consider dust mopping on a daily or weekly basis, based on need.


4) Maintain A/C and heating units: Each month, change air conditioning and heating unit filters to help ensure asthma triggers don’t recirculate into the building. Consider using filter enhancers which can be sprayed on units to help trap more debris and allergens.


5) Increase carpet cleaning frequency: If the home has carpet, ensure all vacuums are equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter and have properly-sealed bodies, or have been tested for indoor air quality by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). Vacuum frequently.


6) Limit mold growth: In addition to dust mites, mold is another trigger that can cause complications for asthma and allergy sufferers. Increase cleaning frequencies of areas that may be prone to mold growth such as restrooms, kitchens and window coverings.


7) Focus on overlooked areas: In addition to carpets and flooring, concentrate on other areas of the home that occupants use frequently. For example, in offices, chairs are often overlooked, but these can become a breeding ground for dust mites.


“When people understand the importance of cleaning and its effect on health for the millions of asthma sufferers, they will be better able to maintain the indoor environment,” added Armour. “Good frequent cleaning means fewer allergies and asthma attacks. By following the tips and choosing an IICRC Certified Firm for cleanings, homeowners can rest assured they’re taking positive steps to improve the environment for their family and guests.

  • Put allergen covers on mattresses and pillows
  • Vacuum daily with a tight unit
  • Leave beds unmade initially so they can air out and dry
  • Hire an IICRC-certified firm for periodic carpet cleaning and thorough drying (see sidebar below, right).


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HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


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Dust Mite Control – a System Approach That Works:  Created on June 18th, 2013.  Last Modified on March 11th, 2014


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