If you wake up in the morning feeling stuffy and have trouble breathing it may not be due to a change in the weather or the coming on of a cold. It could be something even more troubling, dust mites. Allergens from dust mites is the number one cause of allergen rhinitis and these unattractive tiny critters, smaller than a grain of sand, can be living in your pillows and blankets without being seen.
How to Protect Yourself if You’re Suffering from Allergies?
If you suffer from allergies, you can take steps to protect yourself from the effects of allergens by using dust mite pillow covers as well as dust mite mattress containment covers. Many of these dust mite pillow covers look like the regular covers, but are made of special material that prevents the allergens from getting through to the pillow. Most are designed for you to use as a decorative pillow case over dust mite covers.
In addition, these covers can also protect you from pet dander and other allergens that accumulate on bedding. Some dust mite mattress and pillow covers use a urethane membrane to block allergens and can be especially useful for children as they are waterproof. However, dust mite covers without membranes are softer and more comfortable.
Depending on the severity of allergies, a dust mite mattress cover should be used with dust mite protective covers for your pillows to offer full protection. How well the covers will stop mites from getting to your pillows and mattresses will depend on the fabric being used. Fabrics have openings in the weave that allows the material to breathe. A dust mite cover should have openings no larger than 2.8 microns, which will block out most dust mites that average about 10 microns. Cat and dog dander averages about 3 microns.
Cleaning the Covers
It’s the tight weave in the fabric that keeps the allergens out, but they do need some care and cleaning to remain effective. In general, dust mite mattress covers will only need cleaned every four months and the dust mite pillow covers should be cleaned in warm or hot water about every two weeks. Although washing instructions may vary slightly by manufacturer, they should be tumble dried on low heat and never used with bleach.
Keep in mind that buying dust mite pillow covers and using a dust mite cover for your mattress will keep any more allergens from accumulating on pillows and mattresses, but will not eliminate what may already be living there. Before putting the covers in place you should vacuum the mattress with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter. Pillows can be placed in the dryer, without washing them, to help remove existing allergens before placing them in dust mite covers. The heat in most residential driers is not high enough to kill dust mites, but can remove some through the lint filtering system.
Dust mites thrive in a humid atmosphere with 75 to 80 percent humidity, but can not survive when the humidity level drops below 50 percent. They may not present much of a problem in the dry, winter months, but maintaining a dust mite mattress cover all year will reduce the effects dust mites have on your health.