July 21, 2017

I was shocked to discover that my bed, which was in the house when we moved in, had some teeny, tiny white bugs! Not bedbugs thankfully, but tiny dust mites or mould mites. Teeny, tiny white specks of dust that crawl around independently. So annoying because now I cannot stop staring at every speck of dust I notice on any surface: Does it move? Is it alive? It's quite nerve wrecking!


Dust Mites or Mould Mites

Those tiny white specks of dust that move around independently are actually little dust or mould mites. They are quite common in areas where dead skin and humidity accumulate. This can include beds, sofas, game controllers and other electronics where skin cells or condensation can get trapped, like under the buttons on your keyboard, your television if it's kept in your bedroom, TV remote controls, etc. 

How Best To Spot The Tiny White Bugs

They're almost invisible, you'd probably not even notice them if you weren't paying specific attention to individual specks of dust. The best way I have found to spot these tiny little mites is to use a good light at a perpendicular angle, so the specks of dust cast a little shadow to make them more visible.

Dark surfaces also make them easier to spot, but you can't really control where they are hanging out, so using a light is the best way to identify them. You will see their tiny shadows moving about slowly. 

Another way to tell if they are mites or dust is to gently blow over the specks, the mites generally start moving when disturbed in this way, while dust will just fly off.

Unfortunately I didn't have a good enough camera to take a clear photo of these tiny critters, but you can Google dust mites and mould mites for photos.

Mite-Free Since 2017!

The following advice is based on what we did to successfully eliminate the mites and prevent re-infestation since 2017, when this article was originally written, as well as some tips from our readers who have dealt with the same problem since then.

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How To Get Rid Of The Tiny White Mites

Once the infected items have been identified, your focus should be on removing and quarantining offending items and then cleaning everything thoroughly. Once you have had no sightings for a few days, I'd say it's safe to start putting preventative measures in place to avoid future infestations.

Hoover Everything Regularly

It's important to hoover daily. Even more than once in a day depending on how quickly you see the mites returning after each hoovering. Floors, skirtings, wardrobes, shelves, drawers, windowsills, everything. In theory, the mites should be happy in the hoover bag until it's disposed of as there is lots of dead skin in there for them to live on, so they shouldn't have the need to come back out of there in the meantime.

We would hoover and wipe down surfaces with rubbing alcohol multiple times a day. Returning to the infected room every hour or so to check real close to every surface, with our handheld light, to see whether we could find any more specks moving around. If we found any stray mites roaming around, we would pick them up with sticky tape and dispose of them. As the days went by, fewer and fewer mites were found.

Wiping Down Surfaces

Wipe surfaces with rubbing alcohol to disinfect and remove traces of skin, sweat, etc. Wipe surfaces with Clove oil, it is said to kill and deter mites. Use Neem oil, which is safe to use on skin, as an insect repellent. It's also a powerful natural insecticide which can be used, diluted, on plants and pets too. They might not smell good, but it will do the job well. (click on product image to see details on Amazon)

Tip: red spider mites hate Neem oil too, so if you have any on your potted plants or paved areas, use a diluted Neem oil spray on them to sort that out too. It really works well!

Quarantine Electronics

The red Raid spray gets rid of the tiny mites and works well if your infestation is on electronics. 

Put the infected gadgets into a large bin bag, spray into the bag and seal it up. Let them sit for a week or longer, then clean all your gadgets with rubbing alcohol before use.

Note: If you can leave your items in quarantine longer, about 4 weeks, it would allow time for the Raid to lose effectiveness making the gadgets even safer to handle. (click on product image to see details on Amazon)

Starve The Colony

If you cannot afford to get rid of your bed, using a bug proof mattress cover and pillow covers can help eliminate a colony by trapping them in there until they all die. If you keep the cover on for at least 6 months they finish eating whatever is in there and eventually they all die out.

Then you can remove the cover, hoover the mattress, wash the cover and put it back on again. Now you can remove it regularly for washing and it will continue to protect your mattress from future infestations.

Deep Clean All Fabrics

We had all our fabric items laundered at high temperatures, risking damage and loss, but we felt it was worth it to have a mite-free home. 

We removed all fabric items from the room (including clothes, bedding, bags, fabric accessories, curtains, wall hangings, mats, etc), put them into large bin bags which we sealed with tape and took to our local laundromat for deep cleaning at high temperatures. 

For shoes and belts, etc, you can quarantine them like the electronics, if they are infested, else just clean them as best you can.

Hunt And Physically Remove The Mites

As mentioned previously, using a hand-held light (we used an LED lamp) to shine onto surfaces, you can better spot the moving mites.

Don't hold the light above, but bring it down close to the surface of the item you're inspecting and shine it sideways/perpendicularly, so it effectively creates a long shadow on each mite making them easier to spot.

Once you find a moving speck of dust, use a sticky tape to pick it up, it will be trapped there and can be binned. Just keep zapping each solitary mite you find and eventually, with all the right practices and precautions in place, you will find no more mites.

Woman with her hands in her hair, she looks frustrated. Title reads: Our house is infested with teeny, tiny white bugs. TIny mites that look like specks of dust moving around.

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Prevention Of Future Mite Infestations

Hoovering mattresses, sofa cushions and carpets regularly will collect any stray mites and reduce chances of colony formation. Using a bug-proof mattress cover and pillow covers will stop the mites from ever colonising your bed too.

Regularly cleaning keyboards and game controllers will reduce the food supply under the buttons and keys reducing the chance of an infestation of these tiny mites.

Keeping electronics like laptops and televisions out of your bedroom will also limit the chances of these mites infesting your electronics as condensation forms inside them during the night while you spend all night breathing in the room.

Tips From Our Readers

Thanks to our readers who have shared their stories and tips with us. We will periodically update this page with any new information we acquire.

The mites seem to like humidity levels of 70-80% and temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius, so ideally you'll want to keep humidity levels at or below 50%. There are affordable tools like these Hygrometers and Dehumidifiers that can help you measure and maintain these levels accurately.

Since humidity levels increase in your bedrooms overnight, opening the windows in the morning and airing your rooms thoroughly will help bring the levels back down naturally.

You could try spraying the legs and feet of furniture with Wood Silk which will coat them in natural oils. It is said that this either repels them or makes it difficult for the mites to crawl over.

I hope you have found this article helpful and that this action plan will help you get rid of these tiny critters too. Please contact me or leave a comment below if you are dealing with this issue too, let us know what you're finding helpful so we can help others find solutions too. 

Feeling Anxious Or Distressed?

You won't believe how many emails I've had from people all around the globe who are struggling with these mites in their homes. It can be an extremely distressing situation to find yourself in, causing much frustration and anxiety. I've been through it and to this day I still inspect every speck of dust. I get it. Please know that you are not alone and you are welcome to write to me if you need to vent or have any questions after reading this article.

Thank you for stopping by. Hugs, Char xx

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  • Great article, very informative. Just recently had an infestation of small white mites, starting on my window sill. But I believe have started to spread onto other things in my bedroom. Not on my bed as yet I believe. As you said somethings can not be washed on a high temp I did read. You are able to freeze some items for example my baseball cap. That had some on there. I will try your solutions also, I have to say this has made me stress and a huge dampener on my mood.

    • Hi Terry, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with these mites too. They really do cause quite a bit of distress and frustration. I’m 2 years down the road and still eye specks of dust to make sure they’re not moving… I hope you will successfully get rid of them soon. Do keep us updated.

  • My problem is that these mites are attracted to my bedroom TV. Even though I’ve deep cleaned the room, hoovered everyday, they’re still come back on my TV. I don’t know how to disinfect the TV without potentially damaging it with bug spray…

    • Hi Henry, the issue might be moisture. Having the TV in your bedroom means you spend all night breathing in there, and, especially if you sleep with the door and windows closed, there will be a build up of humidity from your breathing, this warm breath touches the cold surfaces and condensates to form moisture inside the electronics – that’s what is keeping them there. The next step, in my opinion, would be to reduce humidity as much as possible. You can use a dehumidifier and you could remove the TV from your bedroom, maybe leave it in an airy, warm room for some time to dry out and keep an eye on the mites. I’d spray the back of the TV too, but not inside any vent type spaces, to not get more moisture inside it. But any mites that crawl on the outside would at least get zapped and hopefully lower their number or stop them from getting off and onto other items. I hope you find a method that works for you. Do keep us updated on how it goes and what you have tried. All the best.

  • hi! your post has been so helpful! i live in a warm and humid tropical country and have been having mite infestations in my previous home. in my new place, i just found one crawling on my skin care bottle!! my ex-husband used to say i need help for all the psychological and physiological impact the mites have on me. my hair literally stand and i have cold sweat and sleep poorly, knowing these mites are around me. i wonder why i am so unlucky to have such issues when everyone else dont seem to ever have them (or perhaps they dont see them?)

    • Hi Nicole, I understand completely. It’s very possible that most people don’t even realise they are there! The whole ordeal has been pretty traumatic for me too. I’m 4 years down the line and still inspect any specks of dust I find on my electronics or desk!

      It can be extremely distressing. You’re not alone in feeling that way – I get many emails from people all around the world who are just as stressed about it. I hope the action plan I describe above will be helpful to you and that you too will soon be rid of these tiny little rascals! All the best.

  • Thank you so much for sharing useful tips Atwell as making me feel a little less insane. I have tiny crater like bites that don’t heal.. seeing dust move in swarms and independently has made me pretty much lose my mind. I can’t stop hyper focusing on every speck any and everywhere. Went to 5 ers, from the crawling sensations and 3 dermatologist appointments only to be told that it’s anxiety and my own picking… I hear a static tick sounds coming from my hair and ears. The Dr’s claim they see nothing and it isn’t scabbies. My eyelashes will get white salt like specks that dont seem to move on there own. Finally I put hand sanitizer all over my entire body and it felt like sand coming off me… thousands of grains of sand… a living nightmare. Still suffering. Any tips for treating your skin?

    • Hi there, I’m so sorry you’re struggling so much. You are definitely not alone – I get many emails from people feeling like they’re going crazy in this situation. It’s awful how such tiny little bugs can cause us so much grief! Both Neem oil and Clove oil mentioned in the article can be used on the skin. Clove oil has antimicrobial properties (kills some bacteria) and relieves itching too. Neem oil has antifungal properties and contains many beneficial ingredients that aid healing of the skin – soothes, helps heal wounds, relieve eczema and psoriasis, warts, etc and Neem is also a known insecticide – it repels insects, including mites, and is safe to use on pets and plants too. I would try Neem first and then Clove if needed. Neither will smell very good, unfortunately, but I use Neem regularly, it’s definitely a favourite.

      Another thing you might want to consider if you’re itching a lot is Histamine Intolerance. I had this while dealing with the bugs. It was a double hit for me. Basically stress can release histamine in the body, so you might end up itching a lot with seemingly no cause. You can read about my Histamine issue and how I treated it over here http://chronicallyhopeful.com/histamine I really hope you find a solution soon. Please feel free to email me again if you need to vent or have any more questions. I know how hard it is to be itching so much and have nobody help you. My doctors did nothing either. Let us know if you find a solution, it might help somebody else. All the best, Char

    • I also hear that noise coming from my hair. I but reading different things about struggle but no one ever mentioned the noise.

      • Hi JP, Mikay’s comment was the first time I’d heard of the noises in somebody’s hair. The mites I’ve dealt with were not on my body, so I didn’t experience this. I cannot imagine how distressing that must be.

  • Going through this now. Just me and teenager who is very fed up. Can I ask did you just continue life as normal when dealing with it? Did you visit people? Use your car? I am terrified of contaminating my car or taking them to relative’s houses. Child has to carry on going to school and I have to work. Just keep on cleaning and eliminating? Oh and the Red Raid, is that the ant and cockcroach one? Thanks so much x

    • Hi Carla, Thank you for sharing your concerns. I’m sorry you’re going through this too. I am already housebound due to chronic illness, so I don’t go out, but we did have visitors staying over. The mites don’t seem to be like bed bugs. They require humidity, the ideal conditions, so they don’t just multiply anywhere and everywhere. We’ve had them before too, many years ago in a very damp house, different continent even – and they were always confined to certain specific areas or items even, they didn’t infest the entire house. They might have spread more if we hadn’t noticed them though. So I suppose it is possible.

      We didn’t see any of these bugs in the living room or kitchen, they were confined to the 2 bedrooms due to the way my carer and I live and use the space and this is where we spend most of our time and use most of our electronics. So the condensation in these two rooms probably caused the ideal environment for them. Continuously cleaning and eliminating was what we did and it worked for us, both times this has happened to us. My parents took our clothing and other textile items to the dry cleaners in sealed black bags, washed them and dried them at high temperature – so we lost some items to heat damage, but it was worth it to get rid of the bugs.

      The Red Raid is the ant and roach spray, yes. Somehow this one works well on these mites too. And Neem oil is very good at creating barriers around furniture or on surfaces – it’s fascinating to see how they avoid the Neem oil on surfaces! Wishing you all the best, I hope you get rid of them soon. Try not to let them consume your mental health, I know it’s super frustrating and can make you feel like you’re going mad, but I’m sure you will win if you’re consistent with the measures I’ve mentioned. Especially if you are able to alter the humidity and condensation by airing regularly or using a dehumidifier to prevent future re-infestation.

  • Had these in my last house that had a major damp problem (Humidy was 90% in the living room and 85% in my bedroom) moved was clear for a year but now we have them again! Have found them in my room and the upstairs guest bedroom where I also store things. The house started to have a moisture problem 3 months ago just before I noticed the bugs (Around a month ago) so I think that may be related. However The people I live with do not believe the mites are real and will not help me with them. I have a lot of figures and cannot freeze anything and as i live in the UK a lot of the products recommended here are not available. do you have any ideas on what I can do? Anything I can use to get rid of them that is safe for plastics and fabrics? Having these again is really getting me and making my anxiety a lot worse. Also do these bug attach themselves to humans? I’m not sure if it is the stress but i have been noticing a lot more large eye floaters and things running across my vision which happened when they were in my last house but cleared up about a month after we moved and has now started happening again (I was checked for rentinal detachment both times but everything was fine) Any advice or help would be really appreciated I feel like I’m going crazy.

    • Hi Sasha, I’m so sorry that you’re having to deal with this all over again. You’re not going crazy. They make us feel that way, but you’re not alone. This is such a common problem. I am also in the UK and I was able to get all those products I mentioned from Amazon. If you click on any of the product images they take you directly to the Amazon UK page where you can order each one.

      The damp is very likely the cause of the infestation. Humidity and damp or mouldy walls seem to be a common denominator whenever people write to me about these mites. It’s possible a few of them hitched a ride over to the new place and when conditions became favourable they multiplied faster.

      I am not sure whether they attach to humans, but one other person who contacted me about these mites also mentioned they thought the mites were on them. So it is possible, I suppose. Perhaps it depends on the severity of the infestation. Personally I couldn’t tell as at the time of my infestation I was also suffering from a severe Histamine reaction due to a change in my diet, so I was itching and covered in hives anyway. There’s no way I would have been able to tell if they were on me, I was dealing with way too much at the time.

      All I can think of is to clean them up whenever you see them, air and dry rooms, beds and windows daily, meaning don’t let condensation build up, wipe it up or air dry. Dehumidifiers can help too. It’s really tricky if the people in your home don’t see them or believe they’re there. It will be hard to eradicate them all without their help. I hope you can find a solution and some peace soon.

  • Hi there,
    This is the second time I’ve dealt with these mites, once was about a year ago where I basically threw everything out including rugs, couch, heaps of linen, shoes and stacks of herbs and spices And other pantry items. Reading this post I’m not sure why they were in the pantry the first time but we do live in Australia and it was a wet and warm summer.
    But both times I’ve found the infestation started or was first noticed in my vacuum cleaner (Hoover)
    First time around I threw it out but I can’t do that this time as it was new less than a year ago and very expensive.
    I’m just wondering if you would have any idea why the infestation started in my vacuum, they are inside and all over the surface of it and this time that appears to be the only places, but it concerns me as the vacuum is required to get rid of them, but I don’t want to spread them all over the house by using it even if I think I got rid of them using your methods.
    I have to admit, I probably don’t empty or clean the vacuum regularly and should do it more often, but have you heard of an infestation in a vacuum cleaner or Hoover before? And how do you recommend I fix the problem ?

    • Hmm, I’ve not heard of this before. Most people that write to me about these bugs are noticing them around the house, usually in an area that has an issue with damp in the walls. Some have mentioned the pantry or kitchen being infested though, so that’s not as unusual. Only thing I can think of is that maybe the vacuum cleaner picked up some moisture somewhere and so the inside became damp and warm – the perfect environment for them. I’d probably remove the machine from the house. Open it up, empty it and clean it with the products I mentioned in my article. Then spray it with the red Raid and bag it up for a couple of weeks to make sure any stragglers are zapped. That’s the only solution I can think of right now. It is possible to save electronics this way. I saved a laptop, lamp, speakers, etc in this way: wipe, spray, bag, quarantine. I hope you are able to get rid of them soon. All the best.

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