Are Dust Mites Living in Your Carpets?

It’s not a very pleasant thought that we could be sharing our premises with thousands or even millions of dust mites, living inside our carpets and other fabric furnishings. But, unfortunately, that’s often the unwelcome reality.

Luckily, there are plenty of steps we can take to shoo these unwanted visitors away, keeping our spaces free from these common household allergens.

1. What are dust mites?

Invisible to the naked eye, dust mites are tiny, microscopic pests that are smaller than a grain of sand. They live in dust, and eat dead human or pet skin cells, known as dander.

It’s estimated that we shed up to 1.5 grams of dead skin cells on a daily basis, and this alone can provide sufficient food for up to a million of these critters.

If you don’t normally suffer from allergies or asthma, you probably won’t be troubled too much by dust mites, or even be aware of their presence. But, if you do experience these conditions, dust mites can cause all sorts of health problems for you, which you might not necessarily link together.

People wrongly assume that dust mites bite. In actual fact, they don’t. It’s the protein in the excrement of dust mites and their decaying carcasses which can cause allergy reactions.

Symptoms can vary, and may include skin rashes, sneezing, post nasal drip, nasal inflammation, sore, itchy and watery eyes as well as respiratory issues. You’re likely to experience symptoms all year round.

2. Why do dust mites like carpets?

Carpets are the ideal environment for dust mites to live. The thousands of small strands in a carpet provide the perfect place to trap and catch dust and dander – the conditions that dust mites love.

Carpets are great places for dust mites to hide away, and with plenty of food on tap, they’ve got the ideal set up for breeding. Because dust mites are incredibly lightweight, simply walking on a carpet can catapult thousands of them up into the air, where you’ll breathe them in or they’ll come into contact with your skin.

Our homes are especially suitable for dust mites, as they provide the right kind of temperatures. Dust mites thrive in warm spaces where the humidity levels are around 75-85%. Most of us buy carpets because they add warmth to a room, but it’s this warmth in a carpet that dust mites are also attracted to.

It’s not just carpets that dust mites are partial to living in, either. Any type of fabric furnishing, such as rugs, curtains and upholstery are ideal. They especially like mattresses, and it’s thought that there could be up to 10 million dust mites living in your mattress and bedding – a thought that could easily trigger nightmares!

3. How to get rid of dust mites

There’s lots you can do to keep dust mites at bay, so it’s not inevitable that these common allergens have to take over your carpets and other household furnishings.

4. HEPA vacuum cleaning

Regular vacuuming is key, as this can help to remove the dust and dander in carpets that allows dust mites to thrive. However, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which will prevent the dust mites from being expelled back into the air as you hoover.

It’s worth remembering that vacuuming alone won’t solve the problem of dust mites in your carpets. Whilst it may remove some of the mites, dander and dust from the surface of the carpet, the average vacuum cleaner won’t be powerful enough to get rid of them all.

Using an industrial vacuum cleaner will prove to be much more effective than a domestic machine, but even this won’t kill off all of the dust mites completely.

Dust mites like to spend time in places that are dark, so it’s a good idea to regularly move furniture, such as sofas, and vacuum underneath them. They’re also attracted to damp spots, so make sure to fully soak up any carpet spills with absorbent cloth or paper to reduce moisture in carpets.

5. Steam cleaning

Experts recommend that you get your carpets steam cleaned on a regular basis to eradicate dust mites from your carpets, rugs and other soft furnishings. Steam cleaning involves heating water to a high enough temperature that will effectively kill the dust mites, as well as other health-harming allergens in your carpets.

Although you can hire machines to steam clean carpets, you’ll usually get much better results if you get a professional to complete the task for you, instead. Professional carpet cleaners will have vast experience of dealing with things like dust mites and any other pests, bugs, mites or allergens in your carpets.

6. Reduce humidity levels

Dust mites struggle to survive in rooms where the humidity is 50% or lower, so try to reduce the humidity in your home to prevent these allergens from thriving. A dehumidifier can help with this, and you can also buy a special monitor to track indoor humidity levels.

Additionally, open windows after showering and cooking, to prevent moisture in the air from seeping into rooms that have carpets. Where possible, hang your washing outside to dry, but, if not, make sure rooms are well ventilated when drying washing indoors.

7. Keep dusting

It’s not just the dust in your carpets that you need to contend with. Make sure to regularly use a damp cloth to wipe surfaces in a room where dust can gather, such as on coffee tables, fireplaces, bookshelves, TVs, etc, so that this dust doesn’t end up becoming transferred to your carpets.

8. Brush pets

As well as living off dead human skin cells, dust mites like to munch on pet dander, so to reduce the amount of food available to them, brush and groom your pets regularly.

9. Keep on top of it

Unfortunately, getting rid of dust mites isn’t something you only need to do once. Even after you’ve successfully eradicated them, they’ll come back, so you’ll need to stick to a regular cleaning regime to keep on top of these allergy-triggering pests to prevent their numbers from swelling.

10. Consider hardwood floors

If dust mites are a big problem to your health, you might even need to consider replacing your carpets with hardwood flooring, which is less attractive to them. That said, you’ll still need to make sure you get any rugs you put on the wooden flooring regularly cleaned, as well as your upholstery, curtains, mattresses and bedding, etc.

At Carpet Bright UK, our professional London carpet cleaners have all of the solutions to tackle dust mites in your carpets and other soft furnishings. Why not contact us for further details and to get a quote for free?