Even though they are very tiny, they can cause big problems. Found in almost every home in the world -- where they thrive in warm, humid conditions -- and all but invisible to the unaided eye, they are called dust mites.
These eight-legged critters, whose closest relatives are spiders, ticks and scorpions, make themselves at home in carpets, bedding, furniture and other fabrics around your house, feasting on flakes of skin we humans lose naturally every day. In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes that "an average adult person may shed up to 1.5 grams of skin in a day. This is enough to feed one million dust mites!"
That's bad news for allergy and asthma sufferers. According to the AAFA, "dust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma." That's because dust mites and their waste products act as allergens.
The Mayo Clinic notes that "a dust mite allergy can range from mild to severe. A mild case of dust mite allergy may cause an occasional runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. In severe cases, the condition may be ongoing (chronic), resulting in persistent sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure or severe asthma attack."
The good news is, you can get rid of these pesky varmints. And one of the most effective ways to do that is steam. For example, the 315-degree steam heat produced by the Vapor Clean Pro6 Solo would instantly kill any dust mites it came in contact with.
Science agrees. Using steam to kill dust mites was the subject of a test, as reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. The objective was to "assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a domestic steam cleaner for the control of dust mites."
The results? "These data indicate that steam cleaning has considerable potential as an highly effective and efficient method of killing dust mites" and also reducing allergen concentrations.
A combination of steam cleaning and vacuuming will help keep dust mites at bay, and help allergy and asthma sufferers breathe easier.