There’s more to dust than meets the eye; none of it’s pretty. Crawling amongst the dead skin cells, pet dander, and decaying organic matter, dust mites rule the microscopic world.

Your home’s HVAC system is an effective tool in the fight against dust mites, dirt, and dander—especially if you have respiratory issues.

Fight back against dust mites with a few tips from our HVAC pros.

First, What Are Dust Mites and Where Do They Come From?

Dust mites are microscopic pests that carry big health risks. These tiny, spider-like critters feast on dead skin and love warm, moist environments. Individuals with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory sensitivities are susceptible to symptoms triggered by (and this is gross) dust mites’ feces and urine.

You’ll likely find dust mites in bedding, mattresses, fabric furniture, and carpets. And we do mean likely; about four in five US households have dust mite allergens.

These critters thrive anywhere there’s dust, but they do need moisture and humidity to survive. That’s a big reason your HVAC system is important in keeping humidity in the recommended 30-50% range

What Do Dust Mites Look Like?

Dust mites are so small that you’ll need a microscope for a good look. They’re usually less than 0.02 inches long and appear white or yellow. Dust mites have eight legs and pinchers near their mouths to collect and ingest the components of dust, like dander and dead skin cells.

How to Kill Dust Mites

It’s impossible to eliminate dust mites, but you can keep them in check with regular cleaning and by using your HVAC system as a weapon. 

Cleaning to Protect Against Dust Mites

Keeping your home clean is key. A consistent cleaning routine can greatly reduce symptoms, especially for families with allergy sufferers.

  1. Think fabric first: Fabrics like bedding and carpets are prime real estate. Wash your bedding and vacuum weekly, and consider washing your carpets once a month if possible. Vacuum and clean upholstered furniture monthly and replace fabric items with wood or synthetic surfaces.
  2. Dust regularly: Lowering dust levels is the best way to control dust mites. Your home has more dust during the winter when we’re less likely to open windows and keep spaces ventilated, so try to up your dusting game when it’s chilly outside.
  3. Use your HVAC system: It’s not all hard work and elbow grease! Your HVAC system is a powerful tool in addressing dust mites and other irritants that negatively impact indoor air quality.

Ducts, Dust Mites and HVAC Filters

Your HVAC system helps address dust mites in several ways.

Humidity control: Dust mites don’t drink water like other animals. They absorb moisture, and it’s harder for them to hydrate as humidity levels decrease. Use your air conditioning system to keep humidity under 50%, especially during the summer months. In some parts of the country, homeowners may need a whole home dehumidifier to keep moisture levels in check.

Air filters: For dust mites, find the highest-rated MERV filter recommended for your heating and cooling system. As air circulates through your home, dust mites in air ducts are pushed through and filtered out, keeping populations under control.

Read more: Do You Need Humidifiers, Dehumidifiers, or Both?

Do HVAC Air Filters Help with Dust Mite Allergies?

Yes! If you have a dust mite allergy, an air filter can play a part in removing dust mites, their feces and urine, the technical allergens. While your home’s air filter is the most important tool, those with severe allergies often lean on portable air filters. These devices are best used near pet beds, curtains, or other areas with more dust or less frequent cleaning.

It Takes a Team to Tackle Dust Mites

Controlling dust mites doesn’t happen on its own, but you can back up your regular dust-cleaning with punctual, professional HVAC services from your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our experienced technicians can help you select the right air purifier and the right HVAC air filter and improve your home’s airflow to better regulate dust levels.  Book an appointment or call (888) 760-2838 today to get started.