Dust vs Dust Mites

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When put to the test, not many people could tell you of what dust is made. All people, on the other hand, will tell you what a dust mite is and what it does.

Both irritate the lungs, both exacerbate lung conditions like asthma and allergies, and both are hard to clear out of the house.

Aren’t they the same thing, ask many people. They both make people miserable, right? Let’s take a look at the characteristics of each, then we’ll tell you how to deal with them.

What is Dust?

What happens to the sands of the desert, the erosion of hills and waterfront property, or the product of spewing volcanoes?

What happens to the particulates blown out of industrial chimneys, train and ship smokestacks, or cars with smoking rear ends?

Where does the neighbors’ workshop and lawnmower particulates go, or the particulates from the construction going on down the street? All these things and more make up what we know as dust.

Components of Dust

When broken down into its lowest common denominator, dust is made up of:

Pollen, dirt, as well as particulates enter the house on our shoes, clothing, and even our hair. It travels around the house in the air, landing on surfaces

Pet dander consists of dead skin cells. It travels through the air. When it settles, it attracts more dust and dust mites

It’s a common fallacy that dead skin is the major component of dust. While some dead skin cells are found in dust, it’s not a huge amount

When we’re eating on the sofa before the TV, crumbs fall onto the floor. These get swept into the air by any passing person or animal. Thus, they attract more particles, forming dust

Insect particles and fecal matter are a large part of dust. They travel from many places. Even if there are none in your house, the particulates come from other structures that may have bugs

How to Get Rid of Dust

Homeowners with families enduring respiratory problems must resign themselves to the unending presence of dust. Alternatively, try these tips:

Get pleated a/c filters. These trap more particulates than the regular kind

Take shoes off at the front door. Wearing them throughout the house spreads the dust particulates

Groom pets so their hair and dead skin cells aren’t floating on the air

Clean from the top down. Dust wiped from the bottom going up settles again before you get the whole piece of furniture dusted

If you have carpet, keep it vacuumed as much as possible. It’s easier to dust hard wood floors to keep them dust-free

What are Dust Mites?

The dust mite is a microscopic spider-like thing called an arthropod. It has eight legs like a spider and can’t be classified as an insect. It doesn’t get under human skin, nor suck its blood. All it wants is the dead human skin cells found in dust.

The dead skin cells they feed on are found deep inside furniture cushions, carpeting, bed linens, mattresses, as well as stuffed animals.

Dust mites need moisture in the air or humidity in order to live. When they don’t have it, they die. When they do, they leave behind fecal matter in addition to their dead bodies. When humans come into contact with this matter, a dust mite allergy happens.

Dust mites exist everywhere. Everyone has seen them floating with other dust particles in beams of sunlight shining through a window.

They don’t float for long. They must attach themselves to a heavier piece of dust. Humidity is the key. Mites cannot live without the moisture found in the air. Deny them this moisture, and you get rid of dust mites.

How to Rid the House of Dust Mites

The trouble is the mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye. You can cheat them of the things necessary for life, though. For example:

Keep the humidity in the house at 50 percent or lower. Less to no moisture in the air cheats the mites of this most necessary of things for life. The a/c and a dehumidifier will do the job

Cover pillows and mattresses with plastic covers found in most department stores. This denies the mites contact with sleeping humans

If at all possible, remove carpeting and install hard wood flooring

If at all possible, trade in fabric-covered furniture for smooth things like leather

If you can’t trade out the carpet, keep it vacuumed at least three times per week with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter

Damp mop hard wood floors at least three timer per week

Wash bed linens once per week in hot water. The water must be 130 degrees to kill the mites

Wear a surgeon’s mask when cleaning to avoid breathing in more dust

If you can’t trade out the furnishings, have them professionally cleaned. Dust mites live deep in the cushion’s stuffing. You can wash bed pillows, but not sofa stuffing.

We understand that homeowners work. They don’t have time to clean the house and linens every day, or even three times per week. Homeowners might seek professional help as a solution to the problem.


In the end, we think dust itself is the lesser of the two evils from a homeowner’s point of view. It irritates but does not exacerbate health problems like dust mites do.

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