The Danger of Dust Mites

Dust is a combination of pollen, plant and mold spores, pet dander, human skin, lint, bacteria, and other contaminants. While any of these can affect breathing and allergies, dust mites can be a particular problem.

What is a Dust Mite?

Dust mites are tiny insects that are invisible to the naked eye that feed on human skin flakes.  Dust mites thrive in stable environments like indoor dwellings and can survive in almost any temperature at almost any altitude. In other words, dust mites are in every home that has dust.

Why are Dust Mites Dangerous?

Dust mites can negatively affect human health because they are a common trigger for allergies and asthma.  Body parts and feces from dust mites can trigger asthma in individuals with allergic reactions to dust mites, and exposure to dust mites can cause asthma in children who have not previously exhibited asthma symptoms.

How to Control Dust Mites

While you cannot eliminate dust mites, the easiest way to limit the amount of dust mites in your home is to limit the amount of dust in your home.

  • Wash bedding and pillows in frequently as dust mites thrive in these areas where skin flakes collect.  If necessary, mattresses and pillows can be covered in allergen-impermeable covers.
  • Avoid furry and feathered pets as they contribute to the food sources for dust mites.  If you cannot part with your pet, prevent them from occupying your sleeping area.
  • Vacuum fabric furniture and carpet with vacuum cleaner equipped with a high efficient vacuum filter.
  • If you have children, choose washable stuffed toys, and keep stuffed toys off the bed.
  • Dust all surfaces weekly.  Do not scatter dust, use a damp cloth when dusting.
  • Maintain a low relative humidity; the ideal relative humidity in a home is between 30-50%.
  • Have the air ducts cleaned.  Ventilation systems require routine maintenance to prevent dust from being re-circulated throughout the home.
  • In rare instances, chemicals may be recommended to eradicate dust mites, if this is necessary speak to a professional.

Prevent A Dryer Vent Fire

A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by the moving hot air. It is possible for a full load of wet clothes to contain as much as one and a half gallons of water from a typical load of laundry.  Lint is created from the clothes as the water is removed and the clothes dry.  Overtime as air passes through this exhaust line the lint collects in the screws, bends and elbows and walls of the air duct.

Inspect the Type of Air Duct Attached to the Dryer

Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. Flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow.  Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct.

Fire Hazard

Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually. Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers.

Air Flow Restriction

New construction trends now situate wash­ers and dryers in nontraditional areas of the house, such as upstairs bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, and closets. These new sites generally require longer dryer vents, and a higher probability for air flow restriction.

Dryer Vent Maintenance and Safety Tips

Proper maintenance for clothes dryers involves removing the lint from the traps, vents, and surrounding areas of the dryer.

  • Never operate your clothes dryer when you are not home or while you are sleeping.
  • Clean your lint trap before or after every use.
  • Install a proper screen to the outside exhaust to prevent animals from entering the dryer vent.
  • Do not push your dryer too close to the wall as it may cause crimps or bends in the air duct.
  • Periodically have the dryer vent professionally cleaned.

10 Tips to Lowering Dust Within Your Home 

While you will never be able to completely rid your home of dust.  Here are 10 great tips to reduce the amount of dust and other allergy-aggravating particles from your home.

Establish a Regular Cleaning Schedule

When there are long periods of time between cleanings it makes the work much harder.  Develop a routine cleaning schedule, it will help ensure that the maintenance is routine and that areas are not overlooked.

Remove Shoes

Not only does taking your shoes off at the door save the carpets, it also prevents dirt, dust, pollen, and other debris from getting tracked throughout the house. Use of mats placed inside and out of all entrances will help cut down on dust.

Dusting Techniques

When dusting your home, the goal is to capture the dust, do not use a feather duster, as they only stir up dust. When dusting objects within your home work from the top of the object down using a damp cloth, or an anti-static cloth to capture the dust.


Vacuum upholstered furniture weekly.  Most vacuum cleaners come with a hose and attachments to make this an easy task.  Remove all the cushions, and vacuum them separately. Clean the back, sides and make sure to clean underneath the furniture too

Window Treatments

Dust window treatments monthly.  Window treatments can hold a lot of dust which can get released into the air if they are brushed up against or touched.


Carpets are the perfect resting spot for dust and pet dander. Vacuum all carpets at least once a week.  Be sure to use high efficiency vacuum bags, low efficiency vacuum bags will allow for fine dust to re-enter the air.


Lots of mites and dust get trapped in bedding.  Bedding collects skin flakes, sheds its own fibers and releases dust every time you roll over.  Wash bedding weekly in hot water & don’t forget to vacuum under your bed.

Inspect Your Dryer Vent Exhaust

Once a year inspect your dryer vent exhaust. Your dryer is responsible for exhausting moisture and lint from your clothing, and can potentially be the culprit for dust in your home.  Make sure that the dryer isn’t shoved against the wall, and that the dryer exhaust line is firmly attached.  Clean out your lint trap regularly & have the dryer vent cleaned when needed.

Change Filters on Heating & Air Conditioning Unit

Change the air filters every two months that the heating or air conditioning system is in use.  Use good air filters with a MERV rating between 7 and 11.

Keep Your Air Ducts Clean

Overtime dirt and dust build up within the air ducts.  Dirty air ducts will re-circulate dust within your home.  Typically air ducts need to be cleaned every 3-5 years.