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Bedding tips to keep dust mites at bay

Last Modified: November 24, 2021

Family Medicine


This post was written by Heather Willison, MSN, FNP-C, PPG – Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

There are few things worse than going to bed with a stuffy, runny nose! As I’ve relayed in a prior post, histamine is released by the body in response to allergens, and this leads to an overproduction of mucous, sneezing and swelling of the tissue inside the nasal passages. Of course, this can make it quite difficult to fall asleep. This lack of sleep can potentially lead to irritability and decreased productivity, and no one has time for that! So, what can you do?

Dealing with dust mites

Dust mites are the most common trigger for allergy symptoms in the bedroom, as these microscopic pests have taken up residence in our mattresses, pillows, carpets and curtains. They even have the audacity to hang out in stuffed animals! 

Implementing dust mite control measures in the bedroom is key, and starts with encasing mattresses, box springs and pillows in special allergen-proof fabric covers. These covers are often made from vinyl, laminates, woven microfiber fabrics or non-woven microfiber fabrics. Of course, there are pros and cons for each fabric option. 

Vinyl is the cheapest option, but also noisy when you roll over in bed. Vinyl can also trap heat. I would try to avoid using this option on your mattress or pillow, but it would be fine for encasing the box spring.

Laminates are fabric coverings that are backed with polyurethane. Like vinyl, laminates can trap heat and are not very comfortable to sleep on. The polyurethane can also separate from the fabric during laundering, which makes the fabric useless in trapping allergens.

Woven microfiber fabrics are tightly woven and much more comfortable to sleep on, as they are not noisy, and don’t trap heat. These fabrics can vary greatly in how well they trap dust mites, so shop carefully. The tighter the weave, the more effective the fabric is at blocking allergens. 

Non-woven microfiber covers are made by fusing a mass of short filaments using heat, glue and pressure. These fused filaments are then crisscrossed to create an embossed pattern on the fabric.  While these fabrics are cheap, they are also not washable. The fabric pattern also does a poor job of trapping the dust mites. 

Other preventive measures include:

  • Washing bedding weekly in hot water or dry on high heat.
  • Dust mites thrive in a moist environment, so keep humidity low by using a dehumidifier or air conditioning.
  • If not a financial burden, wall-to-wall carpeting should be removed as much as possible. If not possible, vacuum twice weekly using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter or a double-layered bag.
  • Stuffed animals can be tossed in the dryer on high heat or placed in a freezer. During the winter months, stuffed animals may be put in a trash bag and placed on the porch when temperatures are below freezing.

Of course, if these suggestions are not providing you with relief of your allergy symptoms, please consider scheduling a visit with an allergist at Parkview Physician’s Group for a thorough evaluation. We’d love to help you!

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