Bed mites are tiny arachnids that live in mattresses, pillows and bedding. Generally referred to as dust mites, they feed on dead skin cells and other microscopic debris often found in beds, carpets and other areas of the home. These tiny invaders can be difficult to control, but certain measures — particularly the use of heat and special covers — help to kill bed mites and interrupt the life cycle of these creatures.
The first step in dealing with bed mites is to thoroughly vacuum the bed. Focus on the edges and any uneven areas, such as stitched areas on the mattress top. Vacuum all pillows, too. This removes many of the live mites from the bed. Use a vacuum that has a removable bag and, as soon as the bed has been vacuumed, seal the bag in a larger plastic bag and remove it from the house to prevent those mites from escaping.
Once vacuumed, place pillows in the dryer on a high heat setting. Follow the label instructions on each pillow to determine how much heat can be used and use as much as possible, because this is what will kill bed mites. Pillows can be washed first, if desired, but washing can sometimes cause pillows to lose their shape. Make sure the pillows are in the dryer long enough to remove any moisture and to heat them all the way through.
Use a dust mite cover on vacuumed mattress and pillows to prevent any remaining dust mites from escaping. If the covers are left on long enough — as much as a year or more — it will kill bed mites trapped inside. This measure also helps people with dust mite allergies by preventing contact with the mite feces that triggers the allergic reaction.
Wash bedding in hot water every week to kill bed mites that get into sheets and blankets. This is one of the most effective tools for controlling them, especially if it is used in combination with drying the bedding in a hot dryer. Washing removes the bed mites, any feces they may have left, and any skin cells — the mites’ main food source — that might be in the bedding.
One creature that is sometimes mistaken for a bed mite is the bed bug. These small parasites are not mites, but they do live in beds, feeding on humans and other available creatures, such as dogs and cats. The same measures used to kill bed mites will also kill bed bugs, so even people who are not sure which pest is causing the problem will be helped by these measures.