If you’ve got allergies or asthma, you probably are wondering how to kill dust mites naturally. The tiny insects create allergens that can cause health problems for kids and adults. Dust mites can be somewhat difficult to kill. The good news is, you can naturally kill dust mites with cold temperatures.
Do You Have Dust Mites in Your Home?
Chances are, you’ve got dust mites. No matter how clean your home is. Every continent but Antarctica has dust mites, which are like tiny spiders that are so small you can only see them under a microscope.
Dust mites live in soft, plush places like beds and pillows. That’s because they feed off of the tiny bits of human skin that we naturally shed every day. And those bits of skin collect in places like beds and bedding.
An average adult person may shed up to 1.5 grams of skin in a day. This is enough to feed one million dust mites.
~Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
So anyone can have dust mites. Which can mean dust mite allergies. Some symptoms of dust mite allergies are:
- Stuffy nose
- Running nose
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
- Itchy nose, mouth or throat
It is possible to know what kind of toxins and allergens are in your dust by testing at home. We used a Home Air Check Surface Dust test kit to understand what was in the dust in our home and whether or not it had any toxins. Here’s how easy it is to use the at-home test:
What Temperatures Will Kill Dust Mites
Dust mites thrive in warm, moist environments. That doesn’t mean they love only tropical temperatures in Florida, though.
A warm moist environment for a dust mite is anything from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degree Celsius), according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Humidity levels of 70-80 percent make the insects happy, too.
So wherever you live, you could have the perfect living conditions for dust mites. And there are so many places dust mites can hide.
Any extreme in temperature kills dust mites, though. That means anything really hot or really cold.
Most experts agree that exposing dust mites to temperatures over 130 degrees (such as in hot water washing) will kill dust mites.
Freezing temperatures will kill dust mites, too.
Kill Dust Mites Naturally with Cold
Freezing outdoor temperatures are like a cleaning hack for killing dust mites.
With little effort, you can effectively kill those microscopic nasty bugs that are causing allergies.
Using freezing cold weather is PERFECT for killing dust mites that can’t be exposed to high heat. Dust mites could be living in these items:
- Bed pillows
- Decorative pillows
- Pillow shams
- Dust Ruffles
- Kids plush toys
- Pet Beds
- Pet toys
All of these items, though, might be hard to put in a washing machine with hot water. Either they won’t fit in the washing machine, or the hot water could make them shrink (I’ve had that problem washing my curtains).
Damage to delicate fabrics is one of the main reasons why so many items in a home are never treated for dust mites. You don’t want to ruin pillows, curtains and other bedding, yet you need to kill dust mites to reduce your family’s allergies and asthma.
How to Kill Dust Mites with Cold Temperatures
When the weather outside is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, it’s time to start killing dust mites in your home.
Either find a covered spot, like a covered porch outside, or set up a drying rack outdoors when there is no precipitation in the air. For instance, you don’t want it to be snowing or foggy.
Then, all you have to do is place fabric items outdoors in the freezing temperatures for a while.
- Place pillows on the drying rack or on chairs on your porch.
- Drape comforters on a drying rack or over the back of chairs.
- Gather up pet toys or kids toys in a breathable basket (like wicker or canvas, not hard plastic) and place them outdoors.
How long do you keep items outside in the cold temperature to kill dust mites? Opinions vary, but a minimum of 24 hours seems to be the rule of thumb, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you can only manage 8 hours or so, it’s better than doing nothing at all. Ideally, 48 hours would be the perfect time frame for killing dust mites.
Keep in mind, the freezing temperatures need to be sustained for the entire time. It can’t be 32 degrees in the morning and then warm up to 45 degrees all day for this to work.
Removing Dust Mite Allergens
Freezing temperatures are the perfect way of how to kill dust mites naturally. However, even though the dust mites have been killed, it doesn’t mean they still can’t cause allergies and asthma.
That’s because the allergens that dust mites produce need to be removed. Both the body of the dust mite and the waste that they leave behind (I know, gross) are both allergens.
So killing dust mites isn’t enough. You’ve got to remove them, too.
Vacuum the items that you put out in the cold to remove dust mites and their allergens.
If you cannot vacuum an item easily, consider a carpet beater or an equivalent. Carpet beaters beat the dust and nasty debris out of throw rugs and area carpets. After all, you can’t put a carpet in a washing machine. It’s the act of beating the item that removes the nasty stuff caught in the fibers.
A tennis racket could be a substitute for a carpet beater.
Monday 22nd of August 2022
Hi, This article was great! I’d really like to test our dust at home for allergens, but the link to the test you used is no longer valid. I can’t seem to find another one anywhere. Any idea of where to find one? Thanks!
Sunday 23rd of January 2022
What a great article. Thank you! I have 2 large dogs and a rabbit. For my large dogs I always cover their dog beds with blankets which I wash weekly in cold water, but they are dried in a super hot deyer until they are completely dry. Since I am washing the blankets regularly is it safe to assume the dust mites would not get into the dog beds themselves since they are always covered? Thanks in advance for any comments.
Thursday 27th of January 2022
Hi Esther! Dust mites are tiny little things. And surprisingly then can get through normal sheets. The only types of cloth that will prevent them getting into the mattress underneath are dust mite barrier cloths which are super tightly woven fabrics. You could try covering the beds with a dust mite barrier cloth. Or treat the dog beds every so often for potential allergens.
What Temperature Water Kills Dust Mites? – gordyfish.com
Wednesday 24th of November 2021
[…] Any extreme in temperature kills dust mites, though. That means anything really hot or really cold. Most experts agree that exposing dust mites to temperatures over 130 degrees (such as in hot water washing) will kill dust mites. Freezing temperatures will kill dust mites, too. via […]
Friday 2nd of October 2020
I have dust mites in my apartment, and if I wash the clothes in a hot DRYER it kills them but putting the clothes in my FREEZER it doesn't work for some reason? I live in Asia and dryer's aren't common here, everyone dries there clothes outside, I have to go to a laundry mat to dry the clothes which is a big hassle. Can you think of any reason why keeping the clothes in the FREEZER won't kill them? Even after leaving them in the freezer for 2 weeks! Do I need to put the clothes in a plastic bag or does that matter? If it matters, then why?
Tuesday 6th of October 2020
Sally, how do you know if the dust mites are killed? Just want to make sure we're talking about the same type of bug. Dust mites are invisible and can't be seen. Generally, you only know if you have them if you have indoor allergy issues. Do you feel that your allergies are better after putting things in a dryer?
Sunday 23rd of February 2020
How often should I be putting my pillow out to kill the dust mites? Once a month good enough?
Sunday 23rd of February 2020
I'd say once a month would be good! Unless you have really, really severe allergies then you'd need to do more often!