How to tell if pillows have dust mites

How To Tell If Pillows Have Dust Mites?

On average, we spend around 8 hours in our bed sleeping. Some people like to spend time in their bed watching TV and eating, which adds more hours to it. We place our head on our pillow and pillowcase, and there are a bunch of these little critters called dust mites floating around on our pillow. In general, it does not sound good.

So how to tell if pillows have dust mites and take effective action on getting rid of them? There are definitely many ways to do it, but not all of them are effective. To save time and money, I will share my insight about dust mites hidden in pillows, and how to protect yourself from them.

If you have experienced some common symptoms related to dust mite allergy-like scratchy throat, watery and itchy eyes, running nose, sneezing or even something more serious like an asthma attack than there is a high probability that you have a dust mite allergy. All mentioned symptoms are most likely to appear in your bedroom since this is where you can find the highest concentration of dust mites.

What Are Dust Mites?

To keep it simple, dust mites are critters that you can only see with a microscope, and they are not visible to the bare eye. They are not hazardous or fatal for your health, but they do cause common allergic symptoms we mentioned earlier, which can be quite bothersome.

Dust mites can be found in dusty areas and in a bedroom in general, especially in pillows, pillowcases, covers, bed frames, in the area below the bed, but also in upholstered furniture, carpets, window coverings and in decorative pillows and other decorative fabrics.

Simply put, dust mites feed on dead skin cells, and we all know that our body is getting rid of dead skin cells while we sleep, but they also fall out if we spend a lot of time sitting or laying down on certain objects like couches, chairs, etc. Bottom line is that the highest concentration of dust mites can be found in beddings and around the bed.

The main reason we sneeze and have allergic reactions to dust mites is not based on the dust mites itself, but their feces is what causes these reactions. I know it sounds gross, and in a way it is, but I think this can be a good reason and a good motivation to learn how to deal with this issue, and to invest time and effort to keep the bedroom clean, sanitized, and dust mite-free!

Feel free to read my complete guide on House Cleaning For Allergies to learn more about how to keep yourself protected from dust mites.

At first, this all might sound a bit daunting, but getting rid of dust mites is fairly easy, especially if you can develop a maintenance schedule and spend a couple of hours per week to get everything sorted. Even after a few days, you can notice some changes in how your body reacts when you go inside your bedroom or in your bed.

White pillows and pillowcases

How To Tell If Pillows Have Dust Mites?

Now when you understand it is not possible to see dust mites, unless you have a microscope than how to tell if pillows have dust mites and how do we tell if we have them in our home at all? The answer is pretty simple since dust mites are present in dusty areas and in beddings in general.

Dust is all around us, and it is not possible to get rid of dust to the slightest atom. Taking this into consideration, there is always a slight chance that you will have a small number of dust mites roaming somewhere in your home, but the key is to reduce and minimize high concentrations of dust, to prevent dust mites from spawning and roaming around your pillows and beddings.

If you really want to test and see how dust mites look like and where they can be found, you can always buy a microscope(with at least 10x magnification lens), or get dust mite testing kits which can help you determine which areas in your home have the highest concentration of them. Dust mites look very similar to spiders, but the difference is that dust mites can float in the air for two hours and move to different areas.

Pillows and pillowcases are places where you can find them the most. There won’t be any visible changes on your pillow or pillowcase if there are dust mites or not. If you do see visible changes on the surface, it might be the case that there are other allergens involved like bed bugs, which leave a visible trail.

Preventing Dust Mites From Getting Into Pillows

There are many ways to prevent dust mites from getting inside the pillow, but keep in mind that to increase the effectiveness of these methods, you should try combining and using more than one. Performing extra steps will guarantee that you will keep your pillows protected from dust mites.

Gray pillows

1. Regular Pillowcase Maintenance

Washing and maintaining pillowcases is a must. To remove any stains, body oils, dead skin cells, dust mites, and other allergens, using a washing machine on a hot cycle would be the best solution for maintaining and washing the pillowcases. This will ensure that all dust mites get removed from the fabric. Once every week or two weeks would be a good timeframe for pillowcase maintenance.

Some people claim that if you use a strong enough detergent that it is not necessary to wash the pillowcases so often. This is indeed a false claim, and always consider focusing on the frequency of the washing cycle, rather than buying strong chemicals for treating the pillowcases.

2. Hypoallergenic Pillows & Pillowcases

If you are struggling with allergies, using hypoallergenic pillows and pillowcases would be a great idea. They are fabricated differently from the regular pillowcases, and the secret is in tight weaving. A hypoallergenic pillowcase has a thick structure, which makes it almost impossible for dust mites to get inside the pillow. Using such a pillowcase will not make your pillow a breeding ground for dust mites.

For maximum protection and to make sure that your pillow is allergy-free, using a pillowcase made from a 100% organic cotton, or using a case made out of high-quality polyester will ensure comfort and easy use.

Another tip I have for you is to always buy pillowcases which use a zipper for closing it down. This will ensure that your pillow is completely closed so dust mites cannot get inside. Also, it is much easier and simpler to use compared to buttons.

RELATED: Polyester Vs Cotton Bedding – Which Is Better?

White hypoallergenic pillows

3. Washing Pillows

It is always a good idea to wash pillows once or twice per year, even if you are using pillowcases. Even hypoallergenic pillowcases cannot ensure 100% density and protection versus dust mites, but it is the best line of defense available on the market. Be sure to wash your pillows every now and then, just for the sake of it. Another option is to take your pillows to the professionals since they have the right tools and equipment to get the job done and to wash your pillows thoroughly.

RELATED: How To Wash Hypoallergenic Pillows?

4. Using The Right Tools For Cleaning

Investing money in cleaning tools is definitely an investment worth making, especially when we talk about allergies and dust mites. Something I highly recommend using is a HEPA vacuum cleaner. This type of vacuum cleaner contains a HEPA filter, which can capture really small particles, including dust, dust mites and other allergens. All in all, this is a significant improvement compared to regular vacuum cleaners.

So if you decide on using a HEPA vacuum cleaner, feel free to use it on your pillowcases and beddings, since it will do wonders.

Modern bedroom

Additional Steps To Get Rid Of Dust Mites

Beddings should be washed and maintained on a regular basis. Using a washing machine and a hot cycle will ensure that allergens will be removed from the fabric. Using a dryer is also a good option, just be sure that the temperature is not too high since a dryer can damage the fabric and cause discoloration. In addition to anti-allergenic pillows, consider switching to hypoallergenic beddings which provide many benefits for people having trouble with dust mites and other allergens.

General house maintenance is a must, which involves dusting and vacuuming. This should be done at least once per week, but for people experiencing difficulties with their allergic reactions, it is highly recommended that you perform general maintenance more often. A steam cleaner is also a great solution for effective cleaning.

Upholstered furniture requires extra attention when it comes to dusting, so be sure to use a vacuum to remove dust from this type of furniture. The same can be applied to decorative objects like pillows and other similar fabrics.

To learn more about cleaning and maintenance, I highly suggest you take a look at this helpful article which explains how to prevent indoor allergies, and to keep your home clean. It involves all sorts of allergies and how to deal with them, so be sure to take a look at it.

If you have a lot of unnecessary objects around the house, consider decluttering and removing these objects since they are only collecting dust, and creating a breeding ground for dust mites. Carpets can also be a problem for some people, and if you think they take too much of your time when you are trying to vacuum and maintain them, consider removing them completely and replacing it with smooth flooring.

Air purifiers are a good option since they will pull dust mites inside the filter, and it will push out air free of dust mites. Many experts say that humidifiers are great to use to remove excess water from the air, and they will put an end to dust mites roaming in the air. It is not recommended to use humidifiers during cold seasons, because if the air is too dry, it can cause problems related to the respiratory system. In general, it would be best to keep the humidity levels below 50%.

RELATED: Are Down Comforters Bad For Allergies?

Final Verdict

There is a lot of going on around dust mites, and while they are harmless small creatures, they can become an issue in large numbers where they cause allergic reactions in people. For that reason, it is important to take the necessary steps in order to protect yourself and ultimately to get rid of dust mite allergy.

Since we are not able to see dust mites with our bare eye, it is rather difficult to determine if we have dust mites in our bedroom. My advice is to think economically and try to save a few dollars. Buying a microscope or tools for dust-mite testing may sound like a good idea for some, but keeping your beddings and bedroom always clean and well-maintained will not only protect you from dust mites, but it will make your sleep better, and make your bedroom more pleasant to spend time in.

With proper maintenance, you cannot go wrong, even if dust mites are not a problem in your home and if you don’t experience allergies.

If you have any questions related to pillows, pillowcases and dust mites, feel free to ask and I would be more than happy to answer!

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