You may think you know who you and your child are cuddling with, and though I wish it were Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling or Cookie Monster, it’s not. Nope, instead we’re getting comfy with thousands of microscopic bugs known as dust mites and their doo, which causes us to sneeze, wheeze, and tear.  But fear not, with a few easy tips, tricks and tools you can get rid of lots of them, save your family’s health and go back to dreaming about Brad, Ryan or Cookie Monster.

The Scoop on Mites:

  • They’re been around for more then 23 million years which means that our pre-historic ancestors slept with them too.
  • They take up residence in dark, warm and humid places, which is why they love sleeping with us since we spend 1/3 or our lives in our beds.
  • Their other fave hangouts are:
    • Stuffed animals/soft toys
    • Upholstered furniture
    • Carpet and Drapes
    • Piles of clothing
  • Their favorite foods are dead human and pet skin cells otherwise known as ‘dander’ – (which is where the word ‘dandruff’ has its roots.)
  • They like to feast on their own feces – appetizing thought.
  • One mite poops about 20 times a day.
  • And, it is their doo that causes us allergy and health problems such as sneezing, coughing, irritated eyes and so on.
    • So as spring comes and you get that joie de vive to do some decorative freshening up in your home, think about getting rid of things that attract these mighty mites and REPLACE:

      • FEATHER PILLOWS/DOWN COMFORTERS: with synthetic bed pillows and cotton or nylon bedding
      • PLUSH CARPET: with low pile carpet, machine washable area rugs or better yet hard flooring (wood, tile, stone, laminate etc),
      • CURTAINS:  with roll up or vertical blinds
      • DECORATIVE FABRIC PILLOWS: with vinyl, leather or washable decorative ones

      A Few Myths and Gross Factoids About Mites

      • They don’t fly
      • They don’t bite
      • They don’t live with dust bunnies-they like dark, warm areas and not wide open spaces
      • An average mattress can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside of it-you doo the math!
      • A two-year-old pillow can weigh 10% more then a new one do to the presence of mites and their doo.
      • One square yard of carpet can have 100,000 mites … and on and on they thrive!

      Manicure-Friendly Ways to Minimize Mites

      Ok enough with grossing you out. On to ways we can smite those mites:

      BI-WEEKLY (Weekly be best if you have the time)

      • SHEETS AND PILLOWCASES:
        • HOT WASH: Wash on hottest cycle your care label allows
        • COOL WASH: If you prefer a cool water wash, add a teaspoon of eucalyptus or tree oil to your wash, which you can generally find at your local health food store
      • STUFFED ANIMALS/SOFT TOYS
        • NON-WASHABLE
          • FREEZE ‘EM: put in plastic zip lock bag and  freeze for 24-48 hours OR put them outside or your car in a garbage bag if weather is below freezing.
          • SHAKE ‘N BAKE:  Put them in a plastic bag with a cup of baking soda and shake well then rub a dub with a towel and vac.
        • WASHABLE (if torn or ripped throw out since they will never dry thoroughly and mold can form)
          • Put in a zippered pillowcase or tie end so it is closed
          • Remove all batteries
          • Dry with ole pair of sneaks to stomp out moisture
      • UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE, DECORATIVE PILLOWS, CARPETING (you can also do this on your mattress and bed pillows). Do the VAC N SPRAY AWAY:
        1. Vac everything:  Only use a vacuum that has a true HEPA filtration system like the LG Lightweight Compressor, which can trap these mighty mini mites.
        2. Spray everything lightly (only want to get things damp) with a 8:1 mix of distilled water and eucalyptus oil.
        3. Let dry.

        Eco-ternative:  STEAM AWAY every 4-6 weeks. HaanUSA has terrific steam vacs which kill dust mites. Keep in mind, though, that their eggs can lay dormant for a month in carpet.

      MONTHLY

      • WASH AND DRY MATTRESS COVERS, BLANKETS, BED SKIRTS, ETC ON HOTTEST CYCLE your care label allows
      • VACUUM EVERYTHING:
        • Be sure to lift and vac under your mattresses and in all the corners of your bed, baseboards, skirts, etc.

      ALL YEAR LONG

      • Buy dust mite proof encasings for your pillow, mattresses and box springs.  I like the ones from CleanRest since they are made out of really comfy soft fabric and have a new zip ‘n click feature, which locks zippers in place and locks out allergens and yucky bed bugs too!
      • Invest in a dehumidifier or move to Arizona.

      If you’re not grossed out enough or would like more info on ways to  minimize these mighty mites you can visit www.natlallergy.com or simply google the words “DUST MITES”.  Wallet size pictures of them may be available there as well should you want to share with others whom you’re sleeping with.  I’m also here if you have any questions or would like to share some tips, tricks or tools to help us all get rid of these buggers!  Spread the glove!

      Check out Julie on the Today show!