How can a dehumidifier reduce the dust mite population in my home?

First, let's learn a little about dust mites.

  • Genus: Dermatophagoides; Mites are Arachnids (members of the spider family).
  • Species: Dermatophagoides Farinae (DF) - commonly found in North America.
  • Size: About 250 to 300 microns (µm) in length.
  • Adult Mite Lifespan: Up to 3 months; (3 larval stages).
  • Reproduction: Female mites lay about 25 to 50 eggs.
  • Habitat: Mites live in carpet, fabric upholstery, and mattresses.
  • Diet: Human skin scale, animal dander and trace nutrients. Mites need to absorb humidity, they cannot drink water.
  • Allergen: Dust mite fecal material.
  • Body Color: Translucent.
  • Average Threshold before Developing Allergies: 100 mites/gm of dust.
  • Allergic Reactions: asthma, rhinitis.
  • Living Conditions: Temp. Range: approx. 59°F to 95° F (15°C to 35°C).
  • Relative Humidity Range: approx. 55% to 85%.
  • Number of People in the US Suffering from Allergies: 50 million and rising.

Dust mites are the most common allergen-producing organism found in homes. They live in carpets, upholstered furniture, bed pillows and mattresses. If the relative humidity in your home is below 50%, dust mites desiccate. If the relative humidity rises above 50% they strive and reproduce, their appetite increases, and therefore their fecal matter (the source of the dominant dust mite allergen) increases. Ninety percent of the population that experiences any allergy-based symptoms reacts to dust mite allergen.

Vacuum often. Washing bedding in hot water has been shown to reduce dust mites. Since stuffed toys are a breeding ground for dust mites, choose toys that can be washed and thoroughly dried, and keep them off beds to reduce the exposure received during long hours of sleep. It may also help to put stuffed toys in the freezer for a day or so.

The best solution is to control the relative humidity in your home. Dust mites can not survive in areas where the humidity level is below 50%. Have the relative humidity checked in your home during summer and fall. Relative humidity can be controlled by the use of a whole-house dehumidifier installed adjacent to the air conditioner. By controlling the humidity, you completely remedy the dust mite problem.