Dust Mites In Pillows

Dust mites in pillows are found in huge numbers because an unprotected pillow is a dust mite's ideal environment.

To live a long and happy life, a dust mite needs three things: Food, Moisture and Warmth.

Food for dust mites in pillows comes from our face, scalp and neck. Very few people wear a head covering in bed, so dead skin from our heads gets rubbed directly into the pillow case, and from there makes it's way into the pillow itself.

We deliver the moisture that the dust mites need to digest these flakes of skin every time we breathe out. It condenses on the pillow right by our nose and mouth, attracting the dust mites to the very place they can do most harm.

Warmth comes from our body heat where our heads are in contact with the pillow, and from our breathing out warm air - again attracting dust mites.

Have you ever noticed that older pillows seem heavier? It has been estimated that in a two year old pillow, ten percent of the weight is made up of dust mites and their waste.

Getting Rid of Dust Mites in Pillows

Firstly, don't use an insecticide spray (arachnicide spray really) on a pillow. Not the sort of thing you want to be breathing in. One exception to this is a spray of eucalyptus oil.

Mites in pillows can be killed by washing at over 60 degrees, (140 F.). The problem with this is that the dust mites' waste will still be in there because it's impossible to thoroughly rinse a pillow out and it's the droppings that cause the problems.

For much the same reasons, vacuuming and steem cleaning are not effective on pillows. It isn't possible to get enough airflow through them to clean out the mites and their waste.

Dust Mite Pillow Covers

Dust mite proof pillow covers are really the only way to keep your pillows free of dust mites. They fit over the pillow, and then the pillow case goes over everything.

On old pillows, a mite proof cover will keep mites separated from your face. A mite proof cover put onto a new pillow before use will keep it entirely free from dust mites.

You can either buy a pillow cover ready made for the purpose or you can make your own. If you want to make your own, I recommend plastic wrap, (cling film in the UK), because it doesn't make a crinkly noise when you move about.

A problem with making your own pillow cover is that cheap materials will not be permeable to moisture. This means that a cheap plastic cover could end up feeling damp where you are in contact with it. For young children, there is also a risk of suffocation.

Take either a roll of plastic wrap or a pillow cover with you if you're going to stay in hotels or other people's homes.

The pillow case will need to be washed weekly, and the plastic cover wiped down with a damp cloth.

New Pillows?

If a pillow is advertised as non-allergenic, this only refers to a pillow made of synthetic materials in its new state. Dust mites can just as easily live in 'non-allergenic' pillows as in the traditional kind.

Skin flakes will soon build up in the new pillow as soon as it starts to be used, closely followed by the ever hungry dust mites.

The best answer to the problem of dust mites in pillows is to get a good quality dust mite cover. If you decide to buy new pillows as well, get whichever type you prefer, but put the covers on as soon as you get them home.

Related Pages

Air Purifiers for Asthma
Do Dust Mites Bite?
Pictures of Dust Mites
Getting Rid of Dust Mites
Dust Mite Mattress Covers