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Dust mites are tiny pests that are invisible to the human eye, yet they can be found by the thousands in linens, mattresses, furniture, carpets and rugs. Though they won't actually bite you, they feed on tiny flakes of skin that you shed. Their waste becomes a component of dust, which is the number one cause of allergies in the home.
How can dust mites hurt you?
When dust mite waste is inhaled, people can develop a number of nasty symptoms. Those with allergies might develop itchy eyes, a runny nose or sneezing, particularly when they first wake up, since the bed is a major site of exposure. If you're not sure if it's dust mites that are causing your reactions, see an allergist to be tested.
Asthma sufferers might also experience wheezing or shortness of breath. About 50 percent of asthma sufferers will find they react to mites. Even worse, dust mite exposure could actually cause asthma. People with eczema may also have flare-ups when their skin comes into contact with the dust.
How can you get rid of mites?
1. Wash bedding in hot water.
If you've got mite problems, you may also want to wash curtains and rugs in hot water. And don't forget to throw them all in a hot dryer afterward.
2. Use dust mite covers.
If you've got allergies, it can be worth investing in covers for your pillows and mattress that prevent you from breathing in mite waste.
3. Vacuum your mattress.
A powerful vacuum, like the Dyson DC61 Animal, can actually get rid of dust mites and their waste, as well as other allergens like pet hair and dander. It's designed with bristles to free up particles and a super-strong motor to suction them up.
4. Get a dehumidifier for the summer.
Mites thrive on humidity—their only water source is the moisture in the air—so using a dehumidifier can help prevent the proliferation of mites.
Learn six more ways to allergy-proof your home.