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How to Get Rid of Dust Mites in a Mattress: 3 Effective Ways

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Dust mites are microscopic organisms found everywhere, usually taking refuge in a warm bed or plush chair in your home. Although they are incredibly common, these little critters can cause intense allergic reactions in sensitive sleepers.

These allergies can hamper sleep quality, as particles left by dust mites become airborne every time you move or change positions. These allergy symptoms can cause a continuous runny nose, cough, itchiness, and watery eyes.

That’s why I’ve put together a helpful guide on how to get rid of dust mites in mattress. I will share 3 effective ways to make your bed 99% dust mite free, plus some myth-busting on what does and doesn’t work with dust mite removal.

Let’s begin.

Key Takeaways

  • To quickly remove dust mites, spray insecticide on your mattress or wash your bedding in hot water (at least 55 degrees Celsius.)
  • Consider investing in an allergen-proof mattress protector or an air purifier for long-lasting relief.

What are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are tiny, insect-like microscopic organisms that make their homes in beds, plush upholstery of furniture, and soft children’s toys. According to the American Lung Association, dust mites can be found anywhere there is warmth, moisture, and a food source (1). Dust mites feed on dead human skin cells, which is little less than half of any household's dust composition.

Sleepers sensitive to the proteins found in dust mite fecal matter or decaying bodies may start developing allergy symptoms to dust mites. As these proteins are not normally airborne, allergy symptoms usually peak when lying in bed, in a chair, or when your face is close to an object with a high amount of these proteins.

Allergy symptoms for dust mites range anywhere from mild respiratory symptoms to coughing, a runny nose, and watery eyes.

How To See Dust Mites On A Mattress

Although it’s not possible to see dust mites with the naked eye, there are four ways to learn how to see dust mites on a mattress:

  • Use a microscope.
  • Use a tester kit.
  • Watch for allergy symptoms.
  • Call for pest control.

Use a Microscope

Seeing dust mites requires a microscope, zooming in by at least 10x magnification. You will want to take a sample of your mattress, using a clear piece of tape to trap dust and debris caught in the fibers of your cover.

Place this tape on a slide, put it under the microscope, and see if you spot any oval-shaped, spider-like organisms with long legs and a few short hairs on them. If you see a few dust mites, this is normal and no cause for concern. However, if there is a large amount, it may be worthwhile to try removing the dust mites.

Use a Dust Mite Tester Kit

A dust mite or allergen tester kit is another easy and cost-effective way to see if there are a high amount of dust mites on your mattress. Place the tester filter on the end of a vacuum, and vacuum the sections of your bed, like the top cover, along the head and foot area and the sides. Vacuum according to the test’s instructions to get a large enough sample.

Then, remove the tester filter from the vacuum and place it in the tester house provided. Follow the instructions to complete the rest of the test. Once you see the results, you’ll know how low or high of a level the dust mites are in your mattress.

Watch for Allergy Symptoms

Another way to see dust mites on or in your mattress is to notice if any allergy symptoms come up. Some sleepers may be allergic to the protein produced by dust mites, especially a large amount of dust mites.

Symptoms of dust mite allergies may include sneezing, coughing, itchiness, runny nose, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and difficulty sleeping.

This allergic reaction will peak where the protein is most prominent, like a mattress. So, if you fall asleep or wake up with allergy symptoms that go away during the day, there is a high chance you may have a colony of dust mites in your mattress.

Call for Pest Control

If all else fails, you can confirm the existence of dust mites in your mattress with the help of a pest control expert. This is not the most cost-effective option, but an expert will know how to check for dust mites and treat your mattress if there is a significant presence of dust mites.

Pro Tip: Most companies charge a consultation fee for inspecting your home. But, some pest control companies offer initial inspections for free, which can be cost-effective if you’re not 100% sure if there are lots of dust mites.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites in a Mattress

There are many ways to learn how to get rid of dust mites in mattress, which include:

  • Using an insecticide spray.
  • Wash bedding in hot water at least once every two weeks.
  • Vacuuming at least once a week using a HEPA filter.

Using an Insecticide Spray

An insecticide spray is a surefire way to kill dust mites on a mattress. Many insecticide sprays on the market allow you to get rid of dust mites in a bed quickly and efficiently. They will be labeled as safe for bedding, fabric, metal, or wood.

The convenient feature of insecticide sprays is that they penetrate deeper layers of your mattress, killing dust mites that have crawled below the surface. This is more effective than washing your bedding, which only removes dust mites on the surface level.

Another convenience is that one spray can often be used to treat more than one pest. So, your investment in an insecticide has more value if you treat your mattress using a spray, especially if you’re learning how to also get rid of scabies in a mattress.

Pro Tip: Always ensure the insecticide is water-based, as this will help ensure the product is less odorous and won't damage the bedding, fabric, or frame of your mattress. Other types of pesticides that use an oil base are known to be more odorous and staining, despite staying wetter longer.

Washing Bedding

Stripping your bed, and removing your mattress cover, if it has a zippered cover, is an excellent way to get rid of dust mites. Washing the bedding in water as hot as 55 degrees Celsius is hot enough to kill the dust mites. This method can be done once every two weeks to sanitize your bed sheets and minimize dust mites.

These little critters stay near the surface of your mattress in optimal humidity and temperatures, only diving deep into the mattress’s cotton and polyester pillow top in colder or drier conditions. So, tackling the bedding and sheets is an excellent way to get rid of a large majority of dust mites living on the surface areas of your mattress.

Vacuuming Once a Week

Vacuuming your room at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is another excellent way to remove dust mites. You can vacuum down dust mites along carpeted or hardwood floors and mattress covers, keeping dust to a minimum. You can also vacuum bed frames, especially ones with upholstery, to remove dust mites from every nook and cranny of your bed. 

The HEPA filter is essential as it ensures that once the dust mites are sucked up, they don’t simply blow out the other end of the vacuum. A HEPA filter is fine enough to trap and keep these microscopic pests within the bag.

Once vacuumed up, ensure that vacuum bags are quickly removed from your home, as dust mites can crawl their way out of them.

How Often to Get Rid of Dust Mites in a Mattress

Depending on your sensitivities, you can eliminate dust mites once every two weeks or once weekly. Specific methods, like bed washing and vacuuming, can be increased or decreased depending on how effective they are for you.

Other methods, like insecticides, will have written on their label when to re-apply them for the best effectiveness.

If your allergies are still reacting to the mattress, consider increasing the number of times you get rid of the dust mites in your bed, or consider calling a professional for help.

Pro Tip: If you use an insecticide spray, always note if it's residual or non-residual. Residual sprays can continue to kill dust mites in your mattress until its residual properties expire, sometimes lasting up to 2 weeks. Non-residual sprays lose their ability to kill dust mites when it dries and must be re-applied to continue the treatment. 

Also Read: How to Dry a Wet Mattress

Common Myths About Getting Rid of Dust Mites

Common myths regarding how to get rid of dust mites in a mattress typically involve baking soda, working it into your mattress, and vacuuming it out after 15 minutes. There is a misconception that baking soda has the ability to kill or affect dust mites.

Unfortunately, apart from being a good deodoriser, baking soda doesn’t do much to your bed. It can’t kill dust mites. In this scenario, your vacuum is the only effective factor in tackling your dust mite count. 

Also Read: How to Deodorise Your Mattress

Extra Tips for Preventing Dust Mites

There are a few extra helpful tips for preventing dust mites, such as:

  • Replacing carpet in your bedroom with hardwood or tile.
  • Wrapping mattresses and pillows in allergen and dust-mite-proof cases.
  • Change the type of mattress you sleep on.

Replace the Carpet

Consider replacing the carpet of your bedroom with hardwood or tile, as this discourages dust mites from thriving in your carpet. Removal and installation can range between $2,500 - $5000, depending on the installer and the room size. 

However, replacing the carpet gives your dust mites one less hiding place. They are attracted to the long fibers of the carpet and all the dust and dead skin cells that get trapped deep in the fibers. By switching to hardwood, dust mites can no longer live below or around your bed, giving you less to worry about.

Wrap Your Mattress in an Allergen-proof Case

Wrapping your mattress in a protector that doesn’t allow dust mites to travel through it can help reduce the number of dust mites in your sleeping area and protect your mattress from a dust mite infestation.

According to research from the NIH National Library of Medicine, using anti-allergen covers helps reduce the colonies of dust mites (2). This is because the fibers of the protector behave similarly to a HEPA filter, using tightly woven fibers so dust mites can’t get through. It is an effective way to prevent dust mites from disturbing your sleeping routine.

A mattress protector
A mattress protector

Change the Type of Mattress You Sleep On

Some mattresses, like pillow tops and spring mattresses, are more susceptible to dust mites. To reduce the dust mites that can penetrate your mattress over time, consider changing your mattress to one of the best memory foam mattresses or one that uses coconut fibers.

According to a study done by ResearchGate, more dust mites were found in synthetic pillow top mattresses than in spongy memory foam after one year (3). This is likely due to the warmth, moisture, and ease of movement in a polyester pillow top. However, a dense memory foam mattress with closed-cell foam structures is too tightly packed for dust mites to travel through, making it less hospitable.

Memory foam mattresses are also some of the best mattresses for side slide sleepers in Australia due to their pressure-relieving foam and deep cradling. They are also considered some of the best firm mattresses, as dense memory foam effectively keeps the body and spine aligned and healthy.

A memory foam mattress on a bed frame
A memory foam mattress on a bed frame

Also Read: How Can I Get Rid of An Old Mattress

What is the Cost of Preventing Dust Mites?

MethodCost
Replacing carpet with hardwood or tile.$2,500 - $5000 for replacement and installation.
Wrapping mattresses in allergen-proof cases.$30 - $100, depending on brand and size.
Changing the type of mattress you sleep on to memory foam.$800 - $1200 for a high-quality mattress, depending on the brand.

How to Manage Dust Mite Allergies

One of the easiest ways to manage dust mite allergies is by investing in an air purifier. Having this on and positioned near your bed at night will help filter out the protein in dust mite by-products that cause allergies. This is due to the HEPA filter employed by the air purifier.

Similar to vacuuming your mattress with a HEPA filter, using an air purifier continually strips the air of any dust mite activity, keeping your airways clear and your sleep allergen-free.

However, if dust mite allergies continue after all the above action has been taken, it may be best to consult an expert.

My Experience with Getting Rid of Dust Mites in My Mattress

In my personal experience, using a spray and air purifier combination worked best to get rid of dust mites in mattress. The spray helped reduce my symptoms almost immediately, and the air purifier made it easier to sleep at night for long-lasting relief.

FAQ

How do you know if your mattress has dust mites?

The easiest way to know if your mattress has dust mites is to take a sample of the dust from your mattress and put it under a microscope with at least 10x magnification. Dust mites are too tiny to be seen with the naked eye but can be quickly identified under a compound microscope.

What can kill dust mites naturally?

One of the most effective and natural ways to kill dust mites is to take all your bedding off your mattress and wash it with hot water of at least 55 degrees Celsius. This heat will neutralize all the mites living in the bedding.

Conclusion 

Dust mite allergens can be irritating to live with. But, if you know a few ways to get rid of dust mites in mattress, like spraying or washing the bedding, you will be well on your way to a dust mite-free home.

You can even wrap your mattress in an allergen-proof casing or invest in an air purifier for long-lasting relief and better, less-disturbed sleep.

What is your experience with getting rid of dust mites in your mattress? Let us know in the comments below!

References

  1. American Lung Association (2023.) What Are Dust Mites? Retrieved from: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/dust-mites 
  2. NIH National Library of Medicine (2002.) Clinical evaluation of the effect of anti-allergic mattress covers in patients with moderate to severe asthma and house dust mite allergy. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1746424/
  3. ResearchGate (2010.) The accumulation of dust mite allergens on mattresses made of different kinds of materials. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47642134_The_accumulation_of_dust_mite_allergens_on_mattresses_made_of_different_kinds_of_materials

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