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What temperature to wash sheets to kill dust mites

Updated February 21, 2017

You clean your house regularly from top to bottom. The one area you kind of skimp on is the bedroom. You wash the sheets and pillowcases, but you are wondering about dust mites around your bed. Dust mites are microscope bugs that live on dead human and animal skin cells. One mattress can contain thousands of dust mites. These little bugs are mostly harmless, except for causing allergic reactions in some people. It is important that you wash your bedsheets in hot water to kill the little pests.

Washing Temperature

Set your washing machine to the hottest water setting possible. The machine's temperature should be at least 54.4 degrees C. This hot setting will kill the dust mites, any eggs present and the bug's faeces. Cold and warm water will not kill dust mites. Use your regular washing powder and fabric softener; a special detergent is not required. Make sure you wash everything on your bedsheets, pillowcases, blankets, mattress covers and any other bedding. Wash sheets and blankets every two weeks, pillowcases every week, and mattress covers and other bedding every month. You might also want to wash the curtains or draperies in your bedroom.

If you notice your washing machine's hot water setting is not really hot, check the water heater and see what setting it is on. Sometimes water heaters are turned down to save energy cost. Make any needed adjustments.

Fabrics You Can't Wash in Hot Water

If you have a set of bedding you can't wash on a hot setting, place the bedding in your freezer for 24 to 48 hours to kill the dust mites. if you don't like the idea of placing dirty bedding in your freezer, you can wash the bedding first, then freeze it.

Dust Mite Covers

Special protective covers are available that keep dust mites from invading your pillows. Place the dust mite cover on first, then your clean pillowcase. These covers are ideal if you travel often and worry about dust mites and other insects in hotel rooms. The covers are available at most retail stores and outlets. You can also buy these special protective covers online; see the Resources section below.

Tips

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid rooms and spaces. Try to reduce the temperature and humidity in your house. Set your house's thermostat to below 21.1 degrees C and purchase a dehumidifier if your house is extremely humid. Your house's humidity should be below 50 per cent.

When cleaning, vacuum under the bed and around the bed with a vacuum cleaner that's properly maintained (bag changed regularly and vacuum cleaner free of dust/dirt). If the flooring in your bedroom is not carpet, damp mop the floor regularly to remove dust. Do not use a dry mop, broom or cloth; these supplies will stir up dust mites and other allergens.

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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.