What is the relationship between humidity and dust mites?
What we mean to ask is: If you lower humidity, can it help to get rid of dust mites? If you raise the RH level in your house, what happens to dust mites?
There are many allergens to contend with indoors. Dust mites are one of them. Many of them including dust, pollen and mold can come because of high or low humidity level.
In this short post, we are going to look at how raising or lowering humidity can do to dust mites.
But first …
What are dust mites?
Dust mites are minute bugs that you can only see under a microscope. They thrive in the fine dust in the house on couches, under furniture, bedding and other places. In size, the biggest dust mite is about ¼ of a millimeter long, very small!
These small bugs do not bite your skin, but they can trigger rashes on different parts of your body. They can also cause allergic reactions such as running nose and itching.
Dust mites live on the dead skin cells from your body. They can make your nights uncomfortable because they can find their way to the bedding, to feast on the many dead skin cells that you leave there.
Dust mites allergies can give you flu-like symptoms throughout the year. Therefore, if you find yourself with a flu that never ends, you might want to ask the doctor whether it could be from dust mites.
If you have someone living with asthma or other respiratory conditions, the dust mites can make their life harder and uncomfortable. Their urine fecal matter contains protein, which irritates people with dust mite allergies.
In that case, get rid of the dust mites or rectify the conditions they thrive in and the hospital visits will reduce.
Why you might have dust mites in your home
Dust mites thrive in humid and warm environments. From this alone, you can see the relationship between humidity and these annoying, minute creatures. In humid places such as Florida, dust mites can be in plenty.
A male dust mite has a short lifespan of 30 days. A female one can live for up to 90 days. By that time, it will have reproduced. Therefore, unless you rectify the conditions under which the dust mites thrive, you could have them for a long time.
Dust mites humidity level
Since we have established that these mites thrive in high humidity and warm conditions, just how is the humidity level?
First, if there is mold in your home, it is also likely to have dust mites because both indoor allergens seem to thrive under the same conditions.
High humidity will cause these bugs to thrive and multiply. On the other hand, low humidity has its effects on your health.
Thus, just as you deal with mold, the best way to control dust mites in your home is to keep the RH level at 50 percent and not any higher.
If humidity is high, you will have mold in your house. Since you are cooking, using the heater and doing other things that increase warmth in your indoor space, dust mites will thrive.
You can use a humidifier to lower the RH level to between 30 and 50 percent. If not, you can use natural methods to lower the air moisture content.
It is also important to pay attention to the humidity level in the small spaces. For instance, you might find the RH level in a closet higher than the rest of the house. You should also reduce humidity in the bedroom.
Dust mites can thrive in such a space. Remember, your clothes have your dead skin cells. Therefore, these tiny mites will have food to eat.
Dust your indoor spaces
Reducing the humidity alone might not get rid of all the dust mites. As their name suggests, they live in dust too.
If you can see a fine film of dust on your furniture and surfaces, it’s possible to have dust mites in your home. They are smaller than dust particles.
Move the furniture from the walls and clean all the spaces. Check the carpets and vacuum them carefully because they carry a lot of dust.
Humidity and Dust Mites FAQ
Dust mites thrive in high humidity. If the humidity level is below 40 percent, they will not thrive. At 50 percent, they are easy to control since they will not replicate too fast. However, at 60 percent, you will have colonies of these minute mites in your home. Here are a few questions that people ask regarding the best humidity level to control dust mites:
What humidity level kills dust mites?
If the conditions allow you to keep your indoor humidity level below 50 percent, say at 40 percent, keep it there. Dust mites reproduce in RH levels of 60 percent and higher. To control these mites, keep the RH lower.
Does higher humidity mean less dust?
Increasing the moisture content in the air does not reduce dust at home. However, it makes the dust particles heavy when they absorb water and they fall to the floor. That way, they do not float in the air so you cannot inhale them. With mist pumping out of your unit, the dust particles will bond, so there is less dust in the air.
Do humidifiers make dust mites worse?
If you let the humidifier run longer than necessary, it can cause some trouble for you. You can get humidifier sickness symptoms like itchy eyes and skin, respiratory issues, excess sweating and so on.
High RH levels above 50 percent will make a good environment for dust mites. So yes, humidifiers can make dust mites worse.
Can dust mites live in low humidity?
They need a temperature of 71°F/21.6°C and humidity level of at least 55% to thrive. Thus, if you make the indoor air a bit drier and lower the indoor temperature just a bit, you can get rid of the dust mite problem.
Can dust mites live in 40% humidity?
To reproduce, they need warmth and high humidity of about 60 percent and higher. Drier regions do not have problems with indoor mold or mites.
Don’t lower the RH level to below 40 though because that might cause chapped lips, rashes, sore throats and other symptoms.
Can dust mites live in 45% humidity?
This is too low for indoor allergens such as dust-mites and mold to thrive. However, if you are running a humidifier, keep checking it for mold in the tank. It can be pumped out in the mist and spread to the rest of the house.
What time of year are dust mites worse?
They tend to increase in the period between May and October. These are also the warmest months in many places. Since high temperature can cause high humidity, the conditions are perfect for dust mites to thrive. In winter, these allergens die, but people still inhale dust containing the protein matter. So, the dust mite allergies can manifest throughout the year.
Wrapping Up on Humidity and Dust mites
High humidity – above 50 percent and warmth creates a perfect environment for dust mites to thrive. Keeping a clean house, free of dust all the time is vital!
These little mites hide in the dust, but they crawl on human skin to eat dead skin cells. They will not bite or burrow under the skin, but they can make you feel itchy.
Maintaining the right humidity level in an area like Seattle, Florida or other humid places requires consistent effort.
You can use a dehumidifier to lower the RH to 50 percent or slightly lower. You can buy the Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier for small spaces on Amazon.com. It is perfect for closets, pantry and other small spaces.