Can a Clothes Steamer Kill Dust Mites?

can a clothes steamer kill dust mites

Steam has been studied for its effectiveness in controlling house dust mites and common allergens in homes. So, can a clothes steamer kill dust mites? Yes.

Here’s what you need to know about using a clothes steamer to kill dust mites:

What Are Dust Mites?

To effectively manage household allergens, it’s essential to understand that dust mites, microscopic arachnids thriving in warm and humid environments, are a common source of indoor allergens.

These minute creatures feed on organic detritus, such as flakes of shed human skin, and flourish in house dust, especially in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpeting. Their fecal matter and body fragments become airborne and can trigger allergic reactions when inhaled by sensitive individuals.

The main allergen responsible for these reactions is Der p 1, a protein found in the feces and bodies of dust mites. Exposure to mite allergens can lead to a range of symptoms, including sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and in more severe cases, asthma attacks.

The concentration of these allergens in the home environment directly correlates with the density of the dust mite population.

How Do You Know If You Have Dust Mites?

what steam temperature kills dust mites

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments and are commonly found in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. They feed on human skin flakes and produce allergens that can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Common places to find dust mites are bedding, carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, or curtains. They are around 0.25 millimeters long, so you cannot see them with your eyes. Unlike bed bugs, dust mites do not leave visible bites on the skin.

However, dust mites cause allergic reactions such as; 

  • Coughing  
  • Itchy red skin 
  • Congested nasal cavities 
  • Running nose 
  • Pain and pressure on the face 
  •  Upward rubbing of the nose, especially in children 
  • Itchiness in the mouth, throat, or nose 
  • Itchy or red eyes 

Using a clothing steamer to clean your carpets, couches, and other areas where dust mites hide can help alleviate the mites and the allergic reactions they cause.

Can a Clothes Steamer Kill Dust Mites? 

Yes, clothes steamers are very effective in killing dust mites. They produce hot steam, which helps kill microorganisms such as dust mites, bacteria, spores, viruses, and germs.  

Here are some interesting studies and statistics:

  1. Steam is highly effective in killing dust mites. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that steam could kill 100% of dust mites in a laboratory setting (PubMed).
  2. Another study found that dry steam and vacuuming significantly reduced carpet house dust mite allergen concentration and load, indicating that steam can efficiently reduce allergen levels (NCBI).
  3. The steam temperature is typically close to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), which is hot enough to kill dust mites and denature their allergens (Advap).
  4. A typical mattress is estimated to contain anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites (Dynamic Cleaning).
  5. Regular steam cleaning, combined with other control measures such as using allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers, can significantly reduce the number of dust mites and their allergens in the home environment.
  6. A proof-of-concept study suggested that portable, domestic steam cleaners could be used to control dust mites in the home, providing an accessible method for individuals to reduce allergen levels (ResearchGate). This includes clothing steamers!

How to Use a Clothes Steamer to Kill Dust Mites

Follow these steps to use your clothing steamer to help kill dust mites:

1. Prepare Your Steamer: Fill the steamer with water and turn it on. Wait for it to heat up until steam begins to form.

2. Prep Your Surface: Vacuum first to remove dust and debris. Use the nozzle to get into crevices, around baseboards, under lounge cushions or folds, your mattress, etc.

3. Start Steaming: Begin at the top of your item and slowly move the steamer nozzle across the surface. Hold the steamer close enough to penetrate the fabric but not so close as to wet or damage it. If you have a brush attachment for your clothing steamer, this may help loosen any fabric fibers so that the steam can penetrate the cloth better.

4. Focus on Coverage: Ensure you cover every inch of the item with slow, steady sweeps. Pay extra attention to seams and crevices where dust mites might concentrate. The high temperature of the steam is lethal to live mites, effectively killing them on contact.

5. Allow to Dry: Allow the area you have steamed to dry thoroughly. Any leftover moisture could encourage mold or mildew, which is counterproductive.

6. Vacuum Again: Once dry, vacuum again to collect any remaining bedbugs, eggs, or debris.

7. Repeat for Regular Maintenance: Repeat this process regularly, especially on items that don’t get washed often like mattresses, upholstery, and curtains, to keep dust mite populations down.

Using a clothes steamer to kill dust mites is an effective, chemical-free method. Regularly steaming and maintaining your fabric items can significantly reduce the presence of dust mites and their allergens in your home.

How Do Clothing Steamers Kill Dust Mites? 

Clothing steamers release hot steam heated to over 200⁰F, enabling them to effectively eradicate dust mites, bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms. Dust mites cannot withstand the super-hot steam, making using a clothing steamer one of the most effective ways of killing them. 

Steam also impacts allergen levels, specifically Der p 1, the predominant allergen produced by dust mites. Treated areas exhibit a substantial mean reduction in this allergen’s concentration. This suggests that steam cleaning can be an effective measure for allergen control within your home, offering you a powerful tool to protect against dust mite-related allergies.

The good thing about this is that it doesn’t involve harsh chemicals. As a result, using a clothes steamer for cleaning is very safe, particularly if you have children or pets in your home. 

6 Effective Ways of Preventing Dust Mites 

can steaming kill dust mites

You can prevent dust mites by doing the following; 

  1. Minimize humidity: One of the causes of dust mites is high humidity levels. Therefore, using a dehumidifier or a suitable air conditioner minimizes moisture levels. Clean the filters regularly.
  2. Use Laundry Additive: Dust mite waste is a source of allergens as well. Unless you wash in water hotter than 140⁰F, dust mite waste could remain on your sheets, bedding, and clothing. I recommend DeMite Laundry Additive (#CommissionsEarned), which you can use to get rid of dust mites when laundering sheets and clothing – even in cold water.
  3. Use Mattress and Pillow Protectors: Cover your mattresses and pillows with a dust-proof or allergen-impermeable cover. SafeRest Mattress Protectors (#CommissionsEarned) are affordable to protect against dust mites but don’t fully encase your mattress. If you prefer a fully encased mattress protector, look at Utopia Bedding Six-Sided Mattress Cover (#CommissionsEarned). Don’t forget to encase your pillows as well. Everlasting comfort (#CommissionsEarned) 4-pack zippered pillow case covers are inexpensive and effective.
  4. Carpets: Carpets trap moisture and dust, which encourages the growth of dust mites. Vacuum right to the edges, move furniture, and vacuum underneath. A HEPA filter vacuum helps trap allergens such as dust so these microscopic particles are not released into the air. 
  5. Use a wet rag or cloth: You can use a damp rag or microfiber cloth to trap dust after vacuuming. Avoid using a dry rag since it will only stir the dust mites. 
  6. Steam clean the affected areas regularly: You should try to steam clean rooms where dust mites are likely to hide, such as carpets, beddings, upholstery, and curtains, frequently.  

Again, the vacuum cleaner should have a HEPA filter or double-layered microfiber bag to trap allergens. You could also try a Mattress and Upholstery Vacuum that has an inbuilt UV light to help kill allergens and suck them up. Take a look at this mattress vacuum here (#CommissionsEarned).

Unlike others, it contains an inbuilt UV light that enables it to kill all microorganisms and allergens. It has an effective HEPA filter for killing bacteria, viruses, and allergens. 

Frequently Asked Questions

does a steam cleaner kill dust mites

Does Steaming Kill Dust Mites? 

Steam is the safest, most effective technique for killing dust mites. A steamer uses high-temperature water heated to over 200⁰F that turns into steam. This hot steam kills bacteria and pollutants, including dust mites. 

How Hot Does Steam Need to Be to Kill Mites? 

Steam should be at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill dust mites effectively. Clothing steamers and steam cleaners heat water to boiling point to create steam. The steam temperature output is generally above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the steam cleaner. 

How Do You Get Rid of Dust Mites in Your Laundry?

The easiest way of eliminating dust mites when doing laundry is by washing in hot water. Please check the clothing labels first to ensure your garments can be hot-washed. If your clothing is not suitable for washing in hot water, use a garment steamer to kill dust mites on apparel. 

Does Ironing Kill Dust Mites?

Ironing can kill dust mites. The high temperatures generated by an iron are sufficient to eliminate dust mites and their allergens from fabrics. Ensure the iron is set to the appropriate temperature for the fabric being treated and iron thoroughly, especially over areas like seams and folds where dust mites might be more prevalent. Always check the care label to avoid damaging the fabric.

How Do I Reduce Dust Mites Using a Steam Cleaner?

A steam cleaner also uses steam to kill dust mites. It would be more efficient when cleaning larger surface areas such as wall-to-wall carpets. Dust mites hide in carpets, upholstery, rugs, and other fabrics. When steam cleaning other areas of your home, ensure you also steam your carpets, upholstery, curtains, and any other areas where dust mites could be hiding.

Should I Use a Handheld Clothes Steamer to Kill Dust Mites?

The two types of clothes steam cleaners are handheld and upright steamers. In terms of design, handheld models are more lightweight and easier to use. Upright steamers are slightly heavier but offer longer steaming times. This is helpful when cleaning larger areas – you don’t need to stop and refill the tank as often. Both are effective at killing dust mites.

Does Sunlight Kill Dust Mites?

Sunlight can help kill dust mites. Exposing bedding, clothing, and other fabric items to direct sunlight can reduce the number of dust mites, as they are sensitive to UV light and heat from sunlight. The airing process helps to reduce humidity in the fabric, creating a less favorable environment for dust mites to live and breed.

Is Polyester dust mite proof?

Polyester isn’t entirely dust mite proof, but it is less hospitable to dust mites than natural fibers like cotton or wool. No fabric is entirely dust mite proof. Regular cleaning and maintenance are necessary to reduce dust mite populations in any textile, including polyester.

Final Verdict 

Even if dust mites don’t bite, they cause allergic reactions in humans. Therefore, you need to clean your home regularly to eliminate them. Luckily, steam is a guaranteed way of killing dust mites without chemicals. 

Whether you use a steam cleaner or clothing steamer is up to you. Both steamers will effectively eradicate dust mites to control these pests in your home. 

I hope this post on how to kill dust mites has been helpful to you. The great thing about using a clothing steamer to kill dust mites is that handheld steamers are inexpensive. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get on top of your dust mite problem. Ensure you use distilled water in your clothing steamer to avoid mineral buildup. 

Other References:

Colloff MJ, Taylor C, Merrett TG. The use of domestic steam cleaning for the control of house dust mites. Clin Exp Allergy. 1995 Nov;25(11):1061-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1995.tb03252.x. PMID: 8581838.


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