Dust Mites: Proven Ways to Get Rid of These Tiny Allergy Triggers

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AI-created closeup image of dust mites on a surface.Pin

If you’ve got dust, you’ve got dust mites. While they may be invisible to the human eye, if you have dust mite allergies like my son and I do, they’ll make you miserable until you learn how to effectively get them under control. In this guide, I explain the cleaning steps and other proven tactics you can use to deal with your dust mite problem.

How Do You Know if You Have Dust Mites?

Living with dust mites is more common than you might think. Homes don’t have to be visibly dirty to have them. In fact, most homes in the US have dust mites in at least one bed.

These tiny eight-legged pests are related to spiders and ticks and, since they feast on dead skin cells, they’re just as creepy. Although dust mites don’t bite like bedbugs, they do cause unpleasant symptoms like sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, a stuffy nose, and even a rash in those of us who are allergic to them. They’re also a major cause of asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Where Do Dust Mites Thrive?

While dust mites are found everywhere in homes, focusing your cleaning efforts on their preferred habitats can help reduce their numbers quickly. Here are the common areas where dust mites thrive:

1. Soft surfaces: Dust mites have a particular affinity for mattresses, bedding, and upholstered sofas and chairs. We humans like those spots, too, and we shed dead skin cells while we’re sleeping or lounging in them. Those dead skin cells, coupled with the warm and cozy nature of these spots, create an ideal breeding ground for dust mites.

2. Carpets and rugs: Most adults don’t spend a lot of time on their floors, but children and pets do. Their dead skin cells and the rest of the household dust winds up on the floor, providing a feast for these microscopic pests.

3. Hard-to-reach spots: Dust mites don’t limit themselves to visible surfaces. They love to hide in hard-to-reach areas like the odd ledges that were so popular in homes built in the 1990s, high shelves, and corners or spots behind heavy furniture. These neglected areas can harbor a significant number of dust mites if left unchecked.

Cleaning Steps to Remove Dust Mites

Now that you know where dust mites are hiding in your home, it’s time to grab your cleaning equipment and start getting rid of them. Don’t go about it slap-dash, or you’ll just stir up dust and spread the problem. Let me explain the best practices for removing dust and controlling dust mites naturally, which may differ from how you’ve been doing things.

1: Declutter.

To begin eliminating dust mites, you need to get clutter under control. The more clutter you have sitting out, the more places for dust to collect and for dust mites to thrive. Decluttering also simplifies the cleaning process, so it’s easier to properly dust surfaces and keep them clean. If you’ve been looking for the motivation to deal with clutter, getting rid of dust mites could be it.

2: Use damp cloths to dust.

Dry cloths do not pick up dust, they spread it. To efficiently remove dust, you must use a slightly damp cloth or an electrostatic duster. Rinse the cloth frequently (keeping a bucket of water nearby helps) or shake the duster outside. This method helps trap and remove dust mites and their allergens instead of merely spreading them around.

3: Clean top to bottom to move dust down.

When cleaning your living spaces, start with the highest surfaces, such as ceiling fans and lights. Then dust the vertical surfaces like walls, doors, and windows; move downward to the furniture; and finish with the baseboards. This way, any dislodged dust or allergens fall to the lower surfaces, which you’ll clean next. Using an electrostatic duster with an extension rod makes this much easier than it sounds.


Refresh the static charge on your electrostatic duster by rubbing it vigorously with a plastic shopping bag or nylon sock. It’ll act like a dust magnet and work twice as well.

4: Vacuum after dusting. 

Invest in a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, as it can effectively capture dust mites and their allergens. Thoroughly vacuum carpets once a week, paying extra attention to the edges and beneath furniture. Then every other day, vacuum the high-traffic areas and entry rugs. You should also vacuum upholstered furniture and curtains at least once a month. (Relax, I share some time-saving shortcuts for this further down.)

5: Mop after vacuuming.

Mopping hard floors without vacuuming leaves streaks as the mopping solution interacts with the dust on the floor. As soon as the floor dries, those streaks become dust again. It’s kind of the circle of (cleaning) life. A better practice is to mop hard floors as soon as you’ve vacuumed them. You’ll avoid streaks, and you’ll remove more dust that even the best vacuum can leave behind.

6: Run the house fan after cleaning.

If you have central air or heat, your system also has a fan which circulates air throughout your home. As part of that circulation process, it sends the air through the filter. Know what the filter does? It cleans the air! So, after cleaning, turn the fan from Auto to On for 15 minutes and let that filter remove any dust and dust mites you’ve stirred up. Just be sure to turn it back to Auto so you don’t run up your utility bill.

7: Launder fabrics in hot water.

To effectively kill dust mites in the washer, you must either launder sheets and towels in hot water (130°F/54°C) weekly or tumble dry them at a high setting for an hour. Cold or warm water washing will remove dust and other allergens, but it does not kill dust mites. Not just your sheets, either: anything that stays on your bed all night collects dead skin cells and thus dust mites, and needs to be laundered to get rid of them. This includes pillows, electric blankets, and duvets or comforters. You should also wash your curtains regularly, or at least tumble dry them to remove dust.

8: Wash stuffed toys Routinely.

If your child has dust mite allergies, be sure to choose washable soft toys that don’t have electric parts or lots of embellishments. Then, wash stuffed animals in the machine or by hand to eliminate dust mites, allergens, and germs. Monthly is often enough for most toys, although if your child has one they take everywhere, you might want to clean it more often.

9: Steam or freeze what you can’t launder.

Some fabrics and bulky items aren’t washable but can still be treated to remove dust mites. For these, either use a handheld steamer to clean them if the care label permits, or place them in the freezer for a few hours to kill dust mites and their eggs.

By following these cleaning steps regularly, you’ll significantly reduce the number of dust mites in your home. But cleaning alone might not be enough. In the next section, I’ll share some additional strategies to control them.

More Practical Ways to Control Dust Mites 

Now that you know what and how to clean to get rid of dust mites, here are some easy and practical ways to enhance your efforts and keep them under control.

Wait to make your bed

As we sleep, our bodies release moisture through sweat and exhalation, creating a warm and humid environment in our beds. This environment provides an ideal breeding ground for dust mites. So, when you get up in the morning, pull back the covers and allow your bed 30-60 minutes to release your body’s heat and dry out before making it. By doing so, you’ll lower the moisture levels and discourage the multiplication of dust mites.

Use a DIY Linen Spray that kills dust mites

Here’s a quick homemade spray to kill dust mites in your bed: Combine 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol, 12 ounces of water, and 20 drops of lavender essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake well and spritz this lightly on your bed when you get up. Let it air dry for 30-60 minutes before making your bed. The rubbing alcohol kills dust mites while the lavender is antibacterial, pet-safe, and adds a sleep-enhancing fragrance.

Use hypoallergenic covers

Protect your mattresses, pillows, and duvets with hypoallergenic covers. These covers act as a barrier, preventing allergens from getting into your mattress and pillows. If you have dust mite allergies, you must wash the protective covers when you wash your sheets. After all, dead skin cells and dust mites are collecting on them. They’re just not working past the barrier into your mattress or pillows. You need to wash them weekly to get the dust mites out of your bed.

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Use slipcovers

Consider using washable slipcovers on upholstered furniture and you won’t need to vacuum it monthly. Like mattress protectors, these keep things from working their way into your furniture. To clean them, you pull them off and toss them in the wash to get rid of dust mites, allergens, and crumbs. If you have pets or small kids, you might want more than one set so you can pop on a fresh one to protect your furniture while the other is in the wash.

Clean your plants

The houseplants you bought to clean your home’s air can also attract dust mites if you allow their leaves to get dusty. Make a point to wipe leaves and the outside of planters with a damp cloth weekly. Be sure to clean fake plants, too, since they also collect dust.

Keep indoor humidity in check

Dust mites thrive in humid environments, so it’s crucial to maintain optimal humidity levels. Aim for a humidity level of around 40-50% in your home. Use a dehumidifier if necessary, especially in moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and basements. If you aren’t sure of your home’s humidity levels, keep an inexpensive hygrometer in your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen to help you monitor those rooms.

Use air purifiers

Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters can effectively capture allergens and other airborne particles. Place them in bedrooms and common areas to improve indoor air quality and reduce dust mites. Look for purifiers with washable pre-filters so you don’t have to replace the more expensive HEPA filter as often.

Change HVAC filters monthly

Remember my tip about using your house fan to filter dust mites and allergens after cleaning? That works best when you’re good about replacing the filters in your HVAC system. Filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating between 8 and 11 are designed for residential use. For dust mite allergies, select a MERV 8 filter and replace it monthly. If allergies aren’t a concern, use up to a MERV 11 filter and replace it every 3 months. It’s important to follow your system’s guidelines, as anything higher than MERV 11 can strain your system and lead to faster wear and tear.

Keep your vents and registers clean

Regularly clean your home’s air ducts, and vacuum the vents and registers to prevent dust and allergen buildup. Dust mites can find their way into these areas and spread throughout your living spaces. Do this after cleaning your home but before changing your filter for the best results.


Dust mites are common microscopic pests that thrive in our homes, especially in beds, carpets, and hidden nooks. They can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms, causing discomfort for those affected. To combat dust mites, follow these cleaning steps: damp dust from top to bottom, vacuum and mop after dusting, use your fan to clean the air, and launder fabrics where dust mites thrive. Additionally, implement natural strategies like managing humidity, using hypoallergenic covers, and keeping air purifiers and HVAC filters clean. With consistent cleaning and preventive measures, you can effectively control dust mites and create a healthier living environment for you and your family.

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  1. Your website has been so helpful to me and my family. Deep cleaning can feel overwhelming and you break it down and make it easy. These tips on dust mites are so helpful.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so happy to be helping you!