View From Afar: Dust Myths …or A “Mite” Knowledgeable

View From Afar: Dust Myths …or A “Mite” Knowledgeable

I wrote in my last article here, regarding the uses of vapor steam cleaning, that one of the main uses I have for it is an anti-allergen service that we offer. Dust mites allergies, asthma, etc. has become a very popular subject of discussion and an advertising point for many carpet cleaners. Before starting the anti-allergen service, I looked indepth into the subject. The following are some of the misconceptions that are common amongst both customers and cleaners.

MYTH: I don’t have dust mites in my home because I have never seen even one.

FACT: Dust mites are very tiny. Up to 12 of them can fit onto a period at the end of a sentence. Their feces are the allergens that cause all the health problems and are, of course, much smaller.

MYTH: My home is so clean that there is no way I could have dust mites!

FACT: Every home has dust mites and the aim of sanitizing is not to completely eradicate the mites (this is impossible), but to lower them to below a certain point that is called a “trigger level”. That is the threshold at which all of these allergies, etc. can be kicked off.

Regular household cleaning is unlikely to lower the level of dust mites to below the trigger point. The best a consumer can do is use a HEPA {high-efficiency-particulate-arrestor} vacuum cleaner so as not to remove the dust out of the carpet/mattress/upholstery and then blow it back into the air. The HEPA vacuum has a series of filters that ensures that over 99% of dust remains inside the vacuum.

MYTH: Maybe the answer is to get rid of all the carpets in the home.

FACT: There are two points here.

First of all, there has to be a degree of moderation. If you were to remove all the things in a house that could contain dust mites you would end up living in a monk’s cell. Also there is a growing number of experts who believe that the advantages of removing carpeting is counter-balanced by the fact that the dust that lays on hard flooring is propelled into the air much more easily than from carpeting. However, carpeting needs to be regularly vacuumed by a HEPA vacuum as discussed above or with a Non-HEPA vacuum by somebody who does not suffer from asthma allergies etc.

Now we come to the professional carpet cleaning and the controversial question “Does
regular expert carpet cleaning help with this problem?” The answer is slightly more
complicated than a simple yes or no because you have to split the dust mite problem
into two parts.

Part one is the dust mite itself. The common house dust mite has eight legs, each leg has a sucker and hooks so is not easily dislodged and washed away by the normal carpet cleaning process and chemicals.

Part two is the dust mite’s feces (and as was said earlier they are the source of the illness causing allergens). A sticky substance holds the feces together and when dried out they crumble and are light enough to blow into the air, where they are subsequently inhaled.

Therefore, you can remove a certain percentage of the dust-mites and their waste product but again, it is questionable whether you can get it below that crucial level without the use of additional specialized products. There are different types of anti-allergen products that are derived from a variety of sources including:

tannic acid
fruit seeds

The one I personally use is Dustmitex for the following reasons. It is made from Boron; consequently, it is a totally natural powder. After dissolving with water, it is completely clear so when sprayed onto a fabric it does not stain. For me, it also has one other personal benefit. It is a powder and is much cheaper to transport (I hate shipping water half way round the world!). When it comes to dust mite treatment, very low moisture cleaning (VLM) has a big advantage over extraction or even straight shampooing. The wetter the environment the more the Dust mites flourish, so consequently, VLM systems do not give the dust mites time to thrive.

I also run a “stand alone” anti-allergen service that is mainly the sanitization of mattresses and pillows with a HEPA vacuum a steam-vapor machine and the Dustmitex.
There has been so much written recently about the tremendous increase in the number
of suffers with asthma and allergies that I can only see it being an expanding market for
the foreseeable future.

Harvey Fish Copyright 2003 Harvey Fish. All rights reserved. Used here by permission of Harvey Fish