Dustmites: Using UV light to kill them in the home

Using UV (Ultraviolet) Light to Kill Dust Mites

Ultraviolet (UV) light has been used for many years in sterilization of medical instruments and in water purification systems.  UV light can bacteria, viruses, germs, dust mite eggs, dust mites, molds, etc, but the effectiveness is depends upon the strength of the light and the amount of time the microorganism is exposed to it. Other factors affect the results:

If different microbes have differing levels of resistance to the light, so the same length of exposure does not work the same on all organisms.

The media to be cleaned and the ability of the UV light to be penetrate to all areas of contamination.

In many air purification devices and vacuum cleaners, the air is moving quickly past the UV light (75 to 700 cubic feet per minute through a narrow pipe). This means there is little time for the uv light to act.

Where UV light sanitizers are most effective in killing , germs, dust mite eggs, dust mites, molds and other microorganisms is where the light is shined on a filter that traps and holds the bugs or where the light is shined on static surfaces that are to be sanitized.

 This means a wand UV light, used properly, can effectively clean hard surfaces, like a baby changing tables, but won’t work on a pillow, since the pillow will block the light and it won’t penetrate the center.

For most applications, washing in very hot water is best for fabrics, pillows, bedding, curtains, etc.

  HEPA air filtration can substantially reduce air borne concentrations of dust mites, their eggs, bacteria, and other allergens. HEPA vacuum cleaning can help pull the allergens out of carpets (while it may temporarily increase the air borne levels).

A comprehensive approach to solving allergy problems at the source: specific product recommendations and new developments

    bulletVacuuming Caution: The application of frequent vacuuming as a dust control measure may aggravate allergic asthmatic conditions because conventional (non-HEPA) vacuum cleaners are very "inefficient." - they blow the dust through the cleaner's bag into the air. Vacuuming helps remove the residue, as does washing, however vacuuming does not generally kill mites because they cling to the surface. Dust collection by conventional vacuums results in a significant increase in air borne dust concentrations. Vacuuming is best accomplished by cleaners that entrain dust into a "liquid medium" such as water (rather than a dust bag), which reduces the suspension and dissemination of allergenic dust particles in the air or a true HEPA filter vacuum. Note: we like the Hoover WindTunnel Premium with it's powerful motor and true HEPA filtration - and Consumer Reports gave it a top rating!) On the flip side, a University of Manchester study claims that vacuuming, even with HEPA vacuums, makes the airborne spore content worse. Common sense suggests that a thorough HEPA vacuuming, followed by opening the windows to air out the house for a few hours, is probably the best approach. Dust mite dander accumulates indoors, not outside. Anyone allergic, should either not be present during the vacuuming, or wear a particulate mask. Where can I find a good air purifier / HEPA filter? bulletSteam cleaning: Another approach is to use a carpet steamer to steam clean the carpets and other surfaces. Using pure steam dissolves dirt and grime, while removing germs and bacteria from the surfaces that you're cleaning. Steam is also an economical and environmentally friendly thing to do. There is no longer the need to use harsh and toxic chemicals. It is also a great way to kill dust mites and bed bugs. See this steam cleaner: New Vapamore MR100 Primo Steam Cleaner. bulletNew Anti-Dust Mite Washing Machines:  The appliance manufacturer, LG's next generation of front-loading steam washer/dryer sets (starting in 2008) has a new, 113-minute cycle LG calls “Allergine” which, they say, can rid laundry of up to 95% of common house allergens like mites and dander. The new wash cycle heats water to over 131 degrees, killing the mites and their eggs, as well as washing and removing them. The larger size, 4.2 cubic feet, will allow consumers to easily launder large allergen-harboring items like area rugs, bedspreads, pillows, and dog-beds. See this page for more information. bulletWhat to do with fabrics that cannot be washed in hot water: Make room in your freezer, and freeze the cloth.  It can take as little 1 hour for small items, or overnight for something big. Freezing is just as effective as heat. Recent studies also indicate that even washwater that's 86 to 104 degrees, followed by 3 minute cold water rinse cycles is partially effective in reducing the dustmite and allergen concentration. There are also laundry detergents that are designed to kill dustmites and remove their allergens, which can be used in all water temperatures. Look for De-Mite, AllerTech Laundry Detergent and Allersearch Allergen Wash.

    Get De-Mite, laundry additive to eliminate dustmites in cold or warm water washes (click on the "Laundry" link on the left that, in the window that opens).

    De Mite Laundy AdditiveDe-mite® laundry additive eliminates dust mites in bedding and washable clothing that laundering in regular detergent alone does not do. Until now the only way to rid your clothing of dust mite allergens was to wash them in hot water. That great if all your clothes were white. De-mite® is an additive that you can add to your favorite detergent. This product works is just as effective in cold water as it is in hot.
    Easy application. Fill the plastic dosage cup 3/4 full and pour it in. each 8 oz bottle treats 12-13 loads of wash.

    De-mite - Laundry Additive - 8 Ounce Size $13.95


    This bottle of AllerTech laundry detergent is good for 64 washes.
      bulletChemical Control
    No pesticides are currently labeled for house dust mites. However, two non-pesticide products, Acarosan and Allergy Control Solution are available for treatment of house dust mites and their allergens. The active ingredient of each is benzyl benzoate and tannic acid. Benzoic acid esters, such as benzyl benzoate, are very effective acaricides in both laboratory and field evaluations. Health risks appear to be slight as benzoates are rapidly metabolized in the body to hippuric acid, which is excreted in the urine. Most acaricidal studies for house dust mite control have been done in Europe. Before pesticide recommendations are made in the United States, approval will be needed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For additional information, telephone 1-800-7ASTHMA. ( 800-727-8462)

     

    Summary:

    1. Get dustmite proof bedding covers, special laundry detergent, pillow cases, etc..  This is one of our partners, and one of the few places we've found that carries a range of dustmite proof covers and other materials:
    2. Keep temperature under 70 and humidity levels below 50 percentDust mites as well as other allergens thrive on high humidity.  Homes with air conditioning constantly have lower mite counts then non-air conditioned homes. This can be accomplished with a couple of relatively inexpensive and long-lasting dehumidifiers.  These have the advantage of making the air more comfortable in the summer, reducing the need for air conditioning.
    3. Wash bedding, rugs, children's soft toys and pet's bedding frequently 
      At least every two weeks in very hot water.
    4. Keep the house clean  Dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and the allergy causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated through regular cleaning
    5. Use a good HEPA vacuum. Most non-HEPA vacuums actually cause the problem to worsen because the filter bags in most models are not efficient and cause allergen levels to rise. A good HEPA vacuum, like the Hoover Wind Tunnel series will pick up at least some dust mites and their eggs and trap all it picks up.
      Some vacuums are now being designed to kill dust mites.
      Halo Technologies says its uprights, including the $400 UVX, kill dust mites, flea eggs, and germs using UV light. Consumer Reports hasn't yet tested those claims because this model wasn't very good at the basic tasks of cleaning carpets and picking up pet hair. Watch here for future developments.
    6. Use a good air filter to remove airborne allergans - Most store bought air filters an not capable of trapping mites and their by-products.  One should also look for a filter that has anti-microbial properties, to prevent the filter from becoming a breeding ground for allergens.   Filters that call themselves "washable" should be avoided because it just is not possible to wash 100% of the biological contaminants out of them and they will also become a breeding ground. The Honeywell brand with inexpensive replaceable prefilters and long-lasting HEPA filters work well for us.

    Latest Dust Mite News

      bulletMarch 3, 2008: Dust mites and cockroach feces and other gens may make it harder for eczema-damaged skin to heal, news reports say South Korean researchers report.  Reported in WebMD and Reuters, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers said it was important, especially for people with eczema, to protect themselves from such microscopic bugs and filth. Dust mite and cockroach allergens are particles of feces, saliva and other matter found on the bodies of these insects. bulletFebruary 1, 2008: Dust Mite Resistant Car Seat Covers - JapanToday.com reports that Toyota has announced the development of the world’s first car seat fabric agent that stops 98% of dust mites from becoming active. Toyota intends to begin offering this new treatment on vehicles sold in Japan in the next few years.t.

      Links for more information

      Dust mite allergies

      Still not feeling queasy?  Well, follow the links below for more information, but not near dinner (or bed) time! 

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