Control Dust Mites and Conquer Allergens

If you suffer from allergies, you know how annoying and even debilitating that can be. The easiest way to fight them is to be aware of your triggers and to find ways to avoid everything from pollen to dust mites. The experts at Harvard Medical School cite dust mites as one of the most common allergens. The mites – actually, members of the spider family – are so microscopic in size that they can’t be seen. But, the experts say, they are there, especially if your house has a humidity level of more than 50 percent.

Although they can be ubiquitous in a house, nesting in mattresses, bedding, pillows and even plush toys, the Harvard experts said there are some good ways to get rid of them.

Here are their suggestions. If you follow them, the experts say, you can reduce dust mites by more than 50 percent:

Keep your mattress, box springs and pillows in air-tight covers of plastic or tightly woven fabrics that repel dust mites.

Wash bedding once a week in hot water. Dry in a hot-air dryer. Do the same for throw rugs.

Avoid using down pillows or comforters.

Instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, go for other floor materials: hardwood, linoleum or tiles.

Don’t lay carpet on concrete.

Keep the humidity levels below 50 percent.

Vacuum weekly; a vacuum with a HEPA filter is best. The filter traps dust particles in the vacuum.

Plush toys should be washable; use hot water to clean them,

Don’t remove dust with a dry cloth, because it only stirs up allergens. Instead, use a damp mop or rag.

If you still have allergy symptoms after taking these steps, check with an allergist for another possible source.

For more information, buy Understanding and Controlling Your Allergies, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.