Does Ultraviolet C (UV-C) Light Kill Dust Mites?

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Dust mites are small creatures that pose significant health hazards. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that they “may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma.”

They live on every continent with the exception of Antarctica, and you will likely not be able to completely eradicate them. You can, however, decrease the severity of your allergic reaction to them.


What are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are tiny – think about 0.25 to 0.33 millimeters across. They have eight legs and are considered arthropod insects. 

They really like temperatures of about 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of about 70-80 percent.

We know of at least 13 different species, and they mainly eat human skin that flakes off people. It’s their feces that humans are allergic to.

Research on the effects of UV-C lamps on eggs and adult house dust mites

In a 2012 study, scientists examined the effects of UV-C lamps on eggs and adult house dust mites. The study investigated the effects of immediate irradiation and 24 hours after irradiation.

It measured mortality rates of adult mites exposed to UV-C at different time intervals, up to an hour and at distances up to 55 cm. 

Eggs were irradiated at distances up to 55 cm for up to five minutes and observed for up to 7 days after the initial 24 hours.

One hundred percent of dust mites treated with direct irradiation died immediately at 10 cm from the lamps and for up to 60 minutes.

Mortality rates decreased with distance and with time after exposure. Additionally, the study noted that egg hatchability was also notably reduced by greater than 50% following irradiation.”

The study concluded that UV-C irradiation kills some types of organisms by damaging their DNA and RNA and that increasing exposure time and decreasing distances from irradiation increases dust mite mortality.

Should I invest in a vacuum cleaner having UV-C light or should I opt for other methods to get rid of dust mites?

If you or a loved one is allergic to dust mites, you might be considering buying a vacuum with a UV light to help reduce the number of dust mites in your home.

However, as noted in the research, you cannot eliminate all dust mites unless you expose them to the UV light for the right amount of time and at the right distance from the light.

The vacuum manufacturer Dyson notes on its website that “To have any chance of killing a dust mite, the UV light would have to be held over a single spot for about 60 seconds – and even then, it would only work if the dust mite was stationary on the surface of the mattress.”

Does sunlight kill dust mites?

Another idea about killing dust mites is to kill them with sunlight. While you can, indeed, clean your rugs or carpets and leave them to dry in the sun for a few hours to kill all the dust mites in them, you won’t get rid of the allergen

Eliminating as Many Mites as Possible

While you cannot eliminate all dust mites, you can take steps to significantly reduce their number in your home and environment.

You can get rid of the carpets and rugs in your home, replacing them with hard floors.

Take down the curtains, and put up blinds that are easy to clean.

Wash your sheets at least once or twice a week.

Use a washable mattress protector, and wash it regularly.

Wash all cuddly toys, towels, and other similar items very regularly. Keep your environment as clean as possible.

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