How to keep your home free of dust mites?

I’ve been coughing incessantly for nights in a row leaving me in an irritated state and a battered throat the morning after. The sore-throat/nasal congestion cycle has been repeating itself once every three weeks.  Sinusitis and tonsillitis have been ruled out; I’m clinically fit and so it had to be something else. So after a rough night, I went to see the ENT yesterday. The diagnosis : allergy. Something that I’ve known all along because this problem surfaces only in Bangalore and no where else with equivalent dust levels.

In short, if I stay indoors in Bangalore, I’m alright; if I step out into the traffic for more than an hour, I’m down in a few days. Slat water gargling or steam inhalation hasn’t helped. Now, I’m on a prescription of anti-allergy tablets. The reason for this post is even interiors of one’s home can lead to such allergies. For instance, it’s high for me on nights when I use a comforter. It’s taken me long to eliminate the causes and narrow them down to one or two. I’ve always been dust weary but now it is at an all-time high. High chances are you’ll spot me with damp cloth or Easy Off at home.

Look out for dust mites if you have symptoms such as coughing, nasal dripping, itching, sneezing etc.  in the absence of an infection.

To keep one’s home free of dust mites need not be a rigorous exercise. It’s impossible to keep any home completely dust-free but you can strive to reduce the deadly mites with this simple routine.

1. Bed Linens : How often do you change the bed sheets? I used to change them once a week, sometimes two.

Do you step onto your bed with dirty and damp feet? Dampness provides a conducive breeding environment for many undesirable micro-organisms. So wash your feet and pat them dry before retiring in for the night.

2. Carpets: Carpets are a safe haven for dust mites. No matter how much you vacuum the carpets, they’d never go away completely. If you are prone to allergies, get rid of carpets right away. You’d be better off without them. I had a beautiful hand woven Kashmiri carpet in the bedroom that I had to put away very sadly. But it has made a huge difference.

3. Curtains: When was the last time you washed the curtains? Last Diwali? Shake the curtains and you’d be surprised to see a thin layer of dust flying away, only to settle on other surfaces such as night stand, table lamps, sides of the cot etc. Wash your curtains regularly instead of vacuuming as it ensures the dust is gone permanently.

4. Sliding Windows: If you have one of those sliding aluminium windows, take a peek in the gaps. You’d be surprised to see how much dust has accumulated. Remove it after vacuuming with a damp cloth. Do not brush it away; you’d end up ding more harm by brushing it as the tiny particles mixes with the air.

5. Comforters/Duvets : Yet another cosy place for the dust mites to reside. I was surprised how it triggered the cough every time I found comfort in my duvet. It was a newly purchased one so I didn’t see the need to wash it. Undoubtedly, dust mites had found their way on to the comforters causing more harm than everything else put together. You can clean your comforters (if washable) in warm water to make them mite-free.  Avoid mink and woolen blankets for allergies.

5. Soft Toys : How many teddy bears do you have? I have about twenty soft toys in various shapes, sizes, ages, and colors from different colors (Dust mites must be loving it here). Each has a story and name associated with it. Some have come to be related to each other and some are treated as if they were for real – full of conversations and very much a part of our daily lives. But, it’s time to give away some of them and some fond memories too. Because nothing  can be more comforting for these teeny-weeny organisms than snuggling inside the fur? If you wish to keep some of them, then keep it clean by washing often.

Some other areas of the house that may require dusting often are shelves, photo frames, TV stands, night stands, door mats, and sofa upholstery.

In short, dust mites resent clean homes.  What are the steps you take to keep your home dust-free?

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