Dust mites LOVE pillows (where dead human skin abounds) and this is the time of year that they flourish with heat and humidity.

Dust mites are so small they are mostly invisible to the naked eye and they are found wherever there’s dust.  The good news is though, they don’t bite and don’t carry disease. BUT it’s the tiny little feces of dust mites that contain an allergen that can set off asthma or sinus problems in those with dust allergies. So if you are noticing problems….it may be time to wash or toss those pillows.


According to the Asthma Society of Canada, one in five Canadians has respiratory allergies that cause something called “perennial allergic rhinitis”: year-round runny nose and sniffles usually caused by an allergy to dust mites, pet dander, or mould.  That is why it is important to do what you can to relieve symptoms and get rid of the little critters because they are a big part of the problem.

Dust mites can infest all kinds of pillows — feather, down, microfiber, or polyester foam and that is why no matter what your pillow type, you should beware.

The Asthma Society recommends that those diagnosed with dust mite allergies should invest in mite-proof pillow and mattress covers, which are made of a fabric with a tight weave that does not allow mites to penetrate.  Remember this is not fool proof though and there are other places in your home that build up allergens as well so pillow covers are not the end of the problem.

So How Do I Deal With Dust Mites?


Your biggest defense is washing bedding and pillow regularly.  For pillows, toss them into the laundry at least two or three times a year to get rid of dust, sweat and saliva stains with detergent . Almost all pillows except foam ones can go in the wash. Just be sure they are fully dried .

Since foam pellet and solid foam pillows cannot go in the dryer, they should be regularly vacuumed or  replaced.

Duvets and comforters should also be washed a few times a year too to get rid of dust mites including down-filled duvets can go in the wash (check the care label to be sure). Because they are heavy, it’s best to go a laundromat and use the large-capacity washers there. Same goes for king-size comforters, which  may be too big for a home washer.

The Asthma Society of Canada recommends washing sheets, pillowcases, and mattress protectors every single week, because dust mites multiply in just a matter of days. Dry the bed linens in a hot dryer, instead of on a clothesline, because while air-drying saves money, the linens can pick up pollen, which many with dust allergies are also allergic to.  Other tips the Society offers include avoiding humidifiers in winter (mites hate dry air), getting rid of carpets in bedroom if possible (or vacuum lots), mop and dust, use air conditioning in summer to get rid of humidity and overall keep clutter down to reduce dust buildup.

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