Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
How can I get rid of the dust mites that are aggravating my allergies? B.C., Seattle, WA

J.D., Clearwater, FL

Researchers from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, found that humidity levels above 50% boost dust mite populations, though short bursts of higher humidity (e.g., from cooking and bathing) didn't increase mite counts (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 10/99).

Study author Dr. Larry Arlian advises taking a comprehensive approach to mites. "Encase your bedding with tightly woven material, wash bedding in hot water, remove carpeting as it is a key breeding site, and maintain low humidity. These measures will eliminate most live mites."

An Australian study found that adding eucalyptus oil to a warm-water wash (mix 2 oz oil with 1 oz liquid dishwashing detergent and presoak for 30 minutes) also kills mites.

In temperate climates, wintertime mite control is easier because the mean humidity level is about 35%. But in places such as Florida, where you live, you may have a year-round problem. Air-conditioning alone may not keep humidity low, so Dr. Arlian suggests you try a high-efficiency dehumidifier along with air-conditioning.

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