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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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