Controlling Dust Mites


I'd like to know if anyone has found ways to save money while fighting dust mite allergies. This is a big issue, because people allergic to dust mites
1) have to buy special covers for pillows, mattresses, box springs, etc. that keep out the mites--A pillowcase can cost up to $17!
2) we cannot open the windows of the house because dust mites thrive in humid climates. This means we need to run our air-conditioner and/or furnace to keep the house comfortable and dry, and can't just use ceiling fans, etc.
3)bedding and rugs must be washed weekly in very hot water and this takes extra time... plus, if a person has pollen allergies, the items cannot be hung outside to dry. They can't be line-dried inside because this will raise humidity levels. Therefore, a dryer comes into play, and this raises the temp of the house!
4)upholstery and carpets need to be cleaned with special products/vacuum cleaners and there are also special filters available for heating systems...
Any advice from other readers would be appreciated.
Anne C.
Our Strategy

Dust mites like a nice warm stable temperature and lots of dust. First of all, get a good vacuum with a hepa filter. Otherwise you're just stirring up the problem.
Second, open up the house. That's right. Lots of fresh air, while it might be some humid, will shock the dust mites and kill many of them.
Third, clean your ducts. You probably have whole colonies living in the ductwork and the air conditioner. While you got the ducts apart tie up filters to the backs of the grilles. And take a can of spray insulation and seal up the gap around the duct.
Then get rid of all rugs, carpets, pillows, plush toys, drapes that you can. If you have to, get an electronic air filter installed on the central A/C. And get rid of clutter.
Anytime you dust, use an electrostatic cloth or Endust. Many times I dust with a spray similar to Windex in a spray can.
I know that there is a chemical that you can spray to kill dust mites. I can not remember the brand name, but I believe that it is a solution of tannic acid. It should be available at most surgical supply houses.
Robert M.

Editor's note: Please be careful when you put extra filters in your heating/AC system. It's possible to reduce air flow enough to burn out your fan motor.
Eucalyptus Oil

One of the things that I do is to use Eucalyptus Oil when laundering sheets, etc. Also use in shampooing carpets or just use in a spray bottle and mist the mattress etc. You only need a VERY small amount (a few drops per 8 oz. of water) and nothing is oily at my house. I also use it on my air conditioner filter. It has the added advantage of making things smell wonderful. I keep a small bottle of diluted oil by the washer. I mix a drop or two of dishwashing soap in this in order to keep it mixed. You might check to make sure that the person with the allergies isn't allergic to the Eucalyptus.
This tip really helps and I live in Florida.
Bake the Bugs!

I would suggest putting pillows (without the pillowcases) in the dryer on high heat for about 5 minutes to rid them of mites.
Ann V.
Asthma Resource

I have not found a way to save much money in dealing with dust mites. It is very expensive. But much less expensive than dealing with an illness related to this allergy. I have done all the "de-miting" that you have mentioned including buying a hygrometer, air purifiers, etc.
If you are dealing with asthma from dust mites, there is a organization called Mothers of Asthmatics. You can join with a minimal donation. I donated $25. You'll receive tons of information on asthma with resources including resources on dust mite allergies. They also have a very informative newsletter.
And there are some (quite a few) Allergy product companies that will give you a discount (usually 10%) off your order if you are a member of Mother's of Asthmatics.
Also- shop around for a Vacuum Cleaner if you are getting a new one- make sure that it is a sealed system with a HEPA filter and forget about those bagless systems! I have found an excellent vacuum cleaner over the internet at about 1/2 price!
Before You Go Crazy

I share your misery about dust mites! But before you reach the insanity point of ripping out the carpet and tossing all your furniture, you might want to investigate what medical studies have been done on environmental control of dust mites. When I went to my allergist about this problem, I asked him what I could do about my apartment. (I was ready to spend thousands if necessary!) But he was skeptical about it and said, "I haven't seen real evidence that environmental change [chemical and physical changes] makes significant improvements." Instead, he told me to try using saline rinses and sodium cromolon (over the counter product called Nasalcrom).
I have read, however, that humidity control does effectively maintain lower mite populations. I'd suggest investing in a dehumidifier if you live in a humid climate like I do (Georgia...ugh!). Another tip that's absolutely free is to open your blinds and let the sun in. Sunlight kills mites! And instead of spending on pillow covers, just buy cheap pillows and recycle them frequently.