Dust mites are small microscopic animals that feed on our squames. They live as close as possible to their food source, that is to say on or in the upper part of the mattress. They are a nuisance that must be kept under control.
Dust mites in the house
There is a very wide variety of dust mite species (such as the tick or varroa that attacks bees). Those who keep us company in the house are usually called house dust mites. Under this name we distinguish those found in food affected by moisture and mold and those living in dust and in places where we spend time (sofas, chairs, carpets and bedding). These are the ones that interest us here.
Bed dust mites measure between 0.1 and 0.6 mm. They are not visible to the naked eye. They eat debris of organic matter (skins, hairs, …). They live a few months and each female can lay around 300 eggs a month or something like a thousand during her life. They reproduce all the faster as conditions are favorable: humidity of 60 to 80% and stable temperature between 24 and 30°C.
Problems with dust mites
The proteins contained in the excretions of dust mites are particularly allergenic for humans. Only 2 milligrams of dust mites per gram of dust is enough to cause an allergic reaction and 10 milligrams per gram of dust can cause an asthma attack.
Dealing with the root of the problem
The first way to remove dust mites is to go to live to the mountains. From 1200 meters up the air is drier and the dust mites can not reproduce anymore. If this is not possible, the other way is to tackle the source of the problem. As we said, in order to grow and reproduce, dust mites require a constant humidity level and a favorable temperature. One must therefore remove humidity and heat and do everything to disturb the habitat of these small beast. Following are the few things you should do for that.
Use a mattress protector
This is the first layer after the fitted sheet that protects the mattress. The advantage of the mattress protector is that it can be removed very easily and machine washed. Changing the mattress protector is a great way to keep the surface on the mattress clean and not conducive to dust mites.
Use a pure wool mattress topper
The pure wool mattress topper provides a layer of wool (we offer 1kg/m2 with Ott System) on the mattress. The wool mattress pad must be removable so that it can be shaken and placed outside from time to time. Being in the sun or on fresh air will kill dust mites. In addition, wool has two properties that make it an excellent material to fight against dust mites :
- Wool breathes and stays dry : wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture and dries very quickly. It does not retain enough moisture to allow dust mites to grow well.
- Wool is slightly abrasive : the untreated wool fiber is surrounded by cuticles that form some sort of fish scales. The natural friction of these scales between them has an abrasive action that shears dust mites.
Wool being a dry and abrasive medium, it greatly disrupts the life of dust mites.
Use a ventilated mattress
The mattress must be ventilated throughout its thickness to not keep moisture during the day. For this, the mattress should be thin enough (up to 20 cm is ideal). Air is able to circulate through the mattress and dries constantly, especially during the day in the absence of the sleeper. That way the mattress provide a dry and healthy climate.
Ventilate the room and the bed
It is best to leave the bed undone during the day to maximize ventilation. Window should be opened to let the room ventilate as much as possible even in winter. Dust mites will have a lot more trouble settling. As we mentioned, the mattress topper must be removed and aerate outside regularly.
By sleeping on a breathable, dry and healthy bedding the development of dust mites will be considerably reduced. In addition, the development of bacteria that feed on dust mite droppings and dead dust mites will be stopped as well. It’s interesting to know that natural latex is bacteriostatic as well, which means that it prevents the growth of bacteria.
With these simple rules, there is no need for anti-dust mite treatments derived from synthetic chemistry and potentially much more dangerous than the problem they are trying to solve.
That rational approach summarise the whole philosophy of Ott System.
Cover photo: A female dust mite, around 0.25mm to 0.50mm long, captured by a scanning electron microscope (source CSIRO – Matt Colloff).