(Last Updated On: April 24, 2023)

Does Washing Down Pillows Eliminate Dust Mites?

Dust mites are tiny creatures that live in warm, moist environments such as bedding. Though not visible to the human eye, the proliferation of dust mites can lead to a range of health issues. Understanding how these microscopic creatures thrive in down pillows and what you can do to reduce your exposure is key to protecting your health and keeping you allergy free.

Messy bed close up of pillows

Understanding Dust Mites in Down Pillows

Dust mites are arachnids related to spiders and ticks that feed on organic material like skin cells or pollen. Down pillows can often be a breeding ground for dust mites. The mites are drawn to the warm environment and the organic matter left behind on the pillow surface. In fact, your bedding is the primary habitat for dust mite allergens. A moist, damp, and warm environment is ideal for dust mites to grow, so it’s no surprise that most of the mite infestation is inside your bedding where most people spend one-third of their lives. They also feed on dander, including animal and pet shedding, and skin flakes.

Treating Down Pillows to Reduce Dust Mite Populations

To help prevent dust mite infestations in your down pillows, you can take specific measures to ensure they remain free of allergens. The first step is to treat down pillows with an anti-allergen spray or powder. These products work by coating the feathers in the pillow with an invisible barrier that traps any airborne allergens before they settle into the pillow. For optimal defense against dust mites and other allergens, this treatment should be used at least every six months.

Another way to protect your down pillows from dust mites is to use allergen-proof covers for your pillows as well as mattresses and box springs. These covers form a physical barrier between you and dust mites, preventing them from settling on your bedding materials. Routinely wash the covers in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Does Washing or High Heat Kill Dust-Mites?

Washing down pillows is an effective way to reduce the presence of dust mites and reduce the likelihood of dust mite allergies, although complete elimination is unlikely. The heat and agitation from washing can reduce dust mite populations, as well as remove any debris or allergens that may have accumulated on the pillow. Washing your pillows in hot water–at least 130°F–with the right detergent is recommended. The laundry detergent should contain benzyl benzoate or permethrin as active ingredients. For maximum effectiveness, wash your pillows monthly. 

Additionally, putting the pillows in the dryer for at least 15 minutes is another way to kill dust-mite populations in down pillows. The pillow should be exposed to temperatures between 120°F and 140°F for varying periods depending on the severity of the infestation and the type of fabric covering. You should always read care instructions before using high heat on natural fibers such as cotton or wool since these materials may shrink if exposed to high heat for too long a period of time.

For non-washable items, an option is to freeze them for 24 hours, which can kill dust mites, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Additional Dust Mite Tips 

To begin lessening your indoor air dust mite contamination, start by decluttering your bedroom. Clutter not only takes up valuable real estate in the home but can also provide an ideal environment for dust mites and other allergens. By removing unnecessary items from the bedroom area, you can create more space for airflow, which will help reduce concentrations of airborne particles.

 Hardwood or tile flooring can be a better choice than carpets, as they don’t gather dust and dirt as easily and require less upkeep. Carpets trap dust and other airborne particles, making them difficult to clean thoroughly without specialized equipment. 

Another effective way to safeguard yourself against airborne pollutants is investing in an air purifier system tailored for this purpose. Air purifiers are engineered to seize tiny particulate matter such as dust mite droppings, pollen grains, smoke particles, pet hair, and dander. Many models come with additional features like a HEPA filtration system that can capture even smaller particles than conventional filters do.

Frequently Asked Questions: Does Washing Down Pillows Get Rid of Dust Mites?

Are Dust Mites Killed by Washing?
Washing can kill dust mites, but the water temperature must be between 130 – 140 degrees to kill the mites. 

What Kills Dust Mites in Pillows?
Washing pillows with hot water–at least 130°F–and drying them on the highest heat setting can help reduce the number of dust mites. Additionally, vacuuming with a HEPA filter-equipped device can help eliminate dust from pillows, reducing the chance of dust mites. Some studies suggest that exposing pillows to high heat can also help eliminate dust mites.

What Laundry Soap Kills Dust Mites?
Choosing the correct laundry soap is key when attempting to combat dust mite-induced allergies and asthma. A good choice for killing dust mites is a laundry detergent that contains benzyl benzoate or permethrin as active ingredients. These ingredients can effectively penetrate deep into fabrics and provide long-lasting protection against dust mites. Additionally, using hot water–at least 130°F–will help ensure that any dust mite eggs present in the fabric are killed during washing cycles.

Do Dust Mites Live in Unused Pillows?
Dust mites can live in unused pillows. These microscopic organisms feed on dead skin cells that accumulate over time, even if a pillow has not been used for an extended period of time. Dust mites tend to be most concentrated in pillows and other fabric items that haven’t been disturbed for a while. Vacuuming or regularly washing pillows is one way to reduce dust mites.

How Do You Starve Dust Mites?
Dust mites can be starved by reducing the humidity in your home, as they thrive in humid environments. Keeping the relative humidity below 50 percent will reduce their population and limit their ability to reproduce. Additionally, regularly washing bedding and vacuuming carpets with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner can help remove dust mite allergens from your home environment. Finally, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter designed specifically for removing dust mites can further reduce exposure to these allergens.

What is the Best Bedding to Prevent Dust Mites?
The best bedding to prevent dust mites is made of tightly woven fabrics such as cotton or bamboo. These materials are not hospitable for dust mite growth, and their tight weave makes it difficult for the mites to pass through. Additionally, look for hypoallergenic options that are treated with a chemical called permethrin that further inhibits dust mite growth. It is also important to regularly wash your bedding in hot water and dry it on high heat settings since this will kill any existing dust mites.

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