Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that has gained popularity for its potential to kill pests and bugs.
One common household irritant are dust mites, tiny creatures that live in bedding, mattresses, and other upholstery. These microscopic bugs can trigger allergies, asthma, and other respiratory issues in certain individuals.
Is diatomaceous earth effective against dust mites? The quick answer is yes, but let’s explore in more detail so you understand why.
Understanding Dust Mites
Habitat and Life Cycle
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that live in various indoor environments, primarily in house dust. They feed on organic materials, such as dead skin cells shed by humans and pets. These tiny creatures thrive in warm and humid settings, with the optimum temperature being around 68-77°F.
The life cycle of a dust mite consists of several stages – egg, larva, two nymph stages, and adult. The entire life cycle takes around 30 to 40 days to complete, depending on the environmental conditions.
Impact on Human Health
Dust mites have an impact on human health, especially for individuals with a predisposition to allergies. The fecal matter and body fragments of dust mites are the primary culprits for dust mite allergies, which can manifest in various symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Runny nose: Inhaling dust mite allergens can cause an increase in mucus production, leading to a runny nose.
- Itchy nose: The allergens can irritate the nasal passages and cause itchiness.
- Skin issues: Prolonged exposure to dust mite allergens can lead to eczema and other skin-related problems.
Regular cleaning, using allergen-proof bedding, and maintaining appropriate humidity levels can significantly reduce dust mite populations in a house.
Diatomaceous Earth and Dust Mites
How it Kills Dust Mites
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural, non-toxic substance made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae. When dust mites come into contact with DE, the microscopic, sharp edges of the particles damage the exoskeleton, causing the mites to lose moisture and dehydrate, ultimately leading to their death.
DE is simple to use.
Just sprinkle it on areas that are prone to dust mite infestations, such as carpets, bedding, and furniture. Keep the area dry to ensure maximum efficacy, as moisture may cause the DE particles to clump together and reduce their impact on dust mites.
Effectiveness Against Dust Mite Allergens
One of the main concerns with dust mites is their ability to produce allergens, which trigger allergic reactions and asthma in sensitive individuals. The good news is that DE not only kills dust mites but also helps to neutralize dust mite allergens.
Here are some key points about DE’s effectiveness against dust mite allergens:
- DE acts as a natural desiccant by absorbing moisture, reducing humidity levels, and creating an environment that is less hospitable for dust mites and their allergens.
- Diatomaceous earth not only targets live dust mites but also has a damaging effect on their fecal matter, which is a significant source of allergens.
- Regular use of DE in dust-prone areas can help prevent dust mite growth and reduce allergen levels in your home.
Note: DE’s effectiveness at controlling dust mite populations and reducing allergens may vary due to factors such as humidity levels, frequency of application, and the extent of infestation. It’s important to follow the recommended guidelines for using DE and consult an expert if your dust mite problem persists.
Proper Application of Diatomaceous Earth
Bedding and Mattress Treatment
To effectively use diatomaceous earth (DE) for dust mites, start with the bedding and mattress. Remove all bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and mattress covers. Launder these items in hot water to kill any existing dust mites.
Vacuum the mattress thoroughly to remove dust and debris. Next, apply a thin, even layer of diatomaceous earth to the entire surface of the mattress. Don’t forget the edges and seams, as dust mites can hide in these areas.
Allow the DE to sit for at least 24 hours before vacuuming it off. After vacuuming, use a damp cloth or steam cleaner to remove any remaining DE.
- Earthborn Elements Diatomaceous Earth in a resealable bucket
- Freshwater silica powder, great for DIY projects and stain removal
- Diatomaceous Earth is a natural source of freshwater amorphous silica
House Cleaning Tips
Besides the mattress and bedding, it’s essential to treat other areas where dust mites can thrive. Here are some house cleaning tips to help:
- Floors: Vacuum floors regularly using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. After vacuuming, apply a light layer of diatomaceous earth in corners and along baseboards. Let it sit for 24 hours before vacuuming again.
- Carpets and Rugs: Clean carpets and rugs with a steam cleaner to kill dust mites and their eggs. Following steam cleaning, apply DE to the carpet, focusing on areas near furniture where dust mites may congregate. Allow the DE to sit for 24 hours, then vacuum it up.
- Furniture: Use a damp cloth or steam cleaner to clean upholstered furniture. Just like with carpets, apply diatomaceous earth to crevices and seams after cleaning and let it sit for 24 hours before vacuuming.
- Curtains and Drapes: Remove curtains and drapes and wash them in hot water. Hang them back up and apply a light layer of DE to the folds and creases. Let it sit for 24 hours before shaking off any excess and vacuuming nearby areas.
Remember to always follow the label instructions when using diatomaceous earth and never apply it as a spray.
Maintaining a Dust Mite-Free Environment
Washing and Replacing Bedding
To reduce dust mite populations in your home, regularly wash and replace bedding items. For the best results, wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot water, preferably with a temperature of at least 130°F.
This will ensure the elimination of both dust mites and their allergens. It’s important to also clean and replace other bedding items, such as mattress pads and comforters, on a monthly basis.
Controlling Humidity Levels
Dust mites thrive in environments with high humidity levels. To minimize their proliferation, maintain an indoor humidity level between 30% and 50%. One way to achieve this is by using a dehumidifier or air conditioner during periods of high humidity.
Additionally, proper ventilation helps prevent excessive indoor moisture, so make sure to regularly open windows and use exhaust fans in areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
Frequent Vacuuming and Steam Cleaning
Vacuuming is an essential step in maintaining a dust mite-free environment. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to effectively remove dust mite allergens from surfaces. Vacuuming should be done at least once a week, with a focus on carpets, upholstery, and other dust-collecting areas.
For more thorough cleaning, steam cleaning carpets and upholstery can help remove allergens and kill dust mites. A steam cleaner uses hot water, which is an effective method for eliminating these pests. Remember to vacuum and steam clean frequently to maintain a clean and healthy living space.
Frequently Asked Questions
What else kills dust mites?
There are several other methods to kill dust mites, such as using high heat (steam cleaning or washing beddings at temperatures above 130°F), using allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers, reducing humidity levels, and vacuuming regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner.
Can it be used on mattresses?
Yes, diatomaceous earth (DE) can be used on mattresses to help kill dust mites. Lightly sprinkle DE onto the mattress surface, let it sit for a few hours or overnight, and then vacuum it up thoroughly. It is essential to vacuum up all DE to avoid inhaling the fine particles, which can cause respiratory discomfort.
Is it safe for humans?
Diatomaceous earth is generally safe for humans when used as directed. However, always use food-grade DE and avoid inhaling the dust, as it may cause irritation to the lungs. Keep in mind that DE has a drying effect, so it may cause skin irritation for some individuals if there is prolonged contact.
Best way to apply DE?
The best way to apply diatomaceous earth for killing dust mites is to lightly sprinkle it on carpets, mattresses, and any other places where dust mites may be hiding. Allow DE to sit for a few hours or even overnight, then vacuum the area thoroughly to remove the DE and dead mites.
Always use gloves while applying DE and make sure the room is well ventilated to minimize the chance of inhaling the dust.
Can DE help with allergies?
As DE helps to kill dust mites, it may potentially help reduce allergy symptoms associated with dust mite exposure.
However, it is important to note that DE is not a complete solution for dust mite allergies and should be used in conjunction with other methods such as regularly washing beddings, using allergen-proof covers, and maintaining a clean and low-humidity environment.