Dust mite laundry tips

Sheets drying outside – it’s sunny enough to kill dust mites and their eggs. Our dust mite laundry tip is use a washing line

It sounds too simple but an ordinary washing machine used weekly10a is one of the best methods available to help you manage dust mite allergy. Dust mites hate the hot wash. And even cooler water can dissolve the proteins in dust mite shell and feces which trigger allergic reactions.

Dust mites are pests found in many parts of your home which can cause allergic rhinitis.  It feels like hay fever or a cold but may happen all year round. Itchy eyes are often one of the first signs, as well as a runny nose, sneezing and coughing, and an itchy or scratchy throat. Rashes and lower respiratory symptoms can also indicate an allergic reaction to dust mites.

Our dust mite laundry tips look at reducing allergen levels in your bed and bedding. This is a dust mite hotspot which is why your symptoms may be particularly troublesome at night and on waking up. Use this anti-dust mite laundry kit on your clothing, soft furnishings and toy stuffed animals too:

  • Washing machine
  • Tumble dryer
  • Iron
  • Outdoor washing line

You're unlikely to get rid of dust mites completely but good laundry habits can help keep allergen levels down. If you have severe allergy symptoms, ask your healthcare provider about long-term treatment.

Why do you need dust mite laundry tips?

Dust mites feed on dead skin cells from you and your pets. You may not realize it but humans shed around 0.18 ounces (oz) of skin every week. This ample food source collects in bedding and kids soft toys, on the sofa, in throws, cushions and carpets. So dust mites and their fecal pellets collect there too.

Scientists studying dust mites think it’s possible the allergens might have a 10-year half-life. So the same poop and old shell could be in your home for 20 years unless you do something about it.


Scientists think dust mite allergens might have a 10-year half-life. So the same poop and old shell could be in your home for 20 years unless you do something about it.

What happens if you don’t do the washing often enough?

Dust mites feed on dead skin cells from you and your pets. You may not realize it but humans shed around 0.18 ounces (oz) of skin every week. This ample food source collects in bedding and kids soft toys, on the sofa, in throws, cushions and carpets. So dust mites and their fecal pellets collect there too.

Scientists studying dust mites think it’s possible the allergens might have a 10-year half-life. So the same poop and old shell could be in your home for 20 years unless you do something about it.

Our top dust mite laundry tips

Our advice is mostly for washable fabrics. But don’t worry, dry cleaning can also kill dust mites and should greatly reduce the amount of dust in clothing.

You can also put things you can’t wash, like soft toys or small pillows, in the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill dust mites.

You know why you should do the laundry as effectively as possible. Now let’s look at how, what and when. And always check the care label before following any of these tips.

1. Choose the highest temperature setting on your machine whenever you can

The hot cycle (120–130°F) is likely to kill the most mites.

2. But don’t worry when you can’t because cool washing works too

The dust mites living on your clothes, bed linens and so on are likely to die by drowning not scalding when you do the laundry. Any water temperature will reduce their numbers a lot. Also, as we said before, water doesn’t have to be hot to remove dust mite allergens.

Woman lying on her front in bed with a pillow over her head. It’s dark but she can’t sleep due to dust mite allergy symptoms

The impact of dust mites
on sleep

3. Stick with your favorite laundry detergent

Experiments have shown that washing in warm water removes around 84% of dust mite allergens, with or without laundry detergent. There are good reasons to use soap though (smells, grime, stains and so on). Maybe your regular detergent is an allergy-friendly type. No need to change it. In another experiment, this time in cold water, several everyday detergents performed equally well at removing allergens.

4. Consider using a laundry additive

Adding bleach to your detergent while washing whites and colorfast items can remove even more dust mite allergens—up to 98%. Tea tree oil, eucalyptus and spearmint all have insecticidal properties. A few drops in your detergent may be especially useful for pre-soaking items that can’t be hot washed to kill dust mites. But contact with chemicals or any natural essential oils is not always a good idea if you have allergies. So ask your healthcare provider before using laundry additives.

5. Wash all the bed linen every week

That means sheets and pillow cases—the soiled bedding in closest contact with your skin. You might do this as a matter of course and wonder why we’ve made this one of our tips. But (unscientific) surveys suggest that some people leave it a lot longer than a week between bed changes. And hot wash if you can.

6. Give teddy a bath

Your child’s cuddly fabric toy is likely to go to bed with them and collect dust mites and their allergens. Check the maker's care instructions to see if it’s machine washable, or you can hand wash it. Don’t forget to check for batteries, metal pieces and sound boxes first.

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When a hot wash isn’t enough to control your dust mite allergy symptoms, we can help you find an allergy specialist nearby for advice on treatment options.

7. For everything else, set up a realistic regular washing routine

If it isn’t doable, you won’t do it. Maybe you already have a weekly laundry day for your clothes. Include things that may not get washed as often as they should, like winter hats and scarves. Then there are the throws and cushion covers, and dog or cat bedding. Dust mites love pet dander too. All these need a regular clean.

8. Sort laundry and wash mite-infested things separately

Yet another experiment found dust mites can transfer between items in the washing machine. If you know something is especially dusty because you launder it less often or it’s been in storage, then don’t add your sheets to the same wash load.

9. Use your tumble dryer wisely

Dry heat to 140°F can instantly kill dust mites and their eggs (which is much harder). You can use the tumble dryer as an extra measure after any wash. But it’s particularly useful as an alternative to washing. An hour in a hot tumble dryer can kill up to 99 percent of dust mites in a comforter. It only takes 10 minutes for blankets. Pop your pillows in the dryer too. And do it regularly.

10. Hang laundry on the washing line on sunny days

Killing dust mite eggs as well as the mites removes the next generation of troublemakers. They don’t like sunlight so hang your laundry outside if you can (never indoors as it raises the humidity, which dust mites love). It takes 3-5 hours for the eggs to die. Make sure everything is properly dry.

11. Get out the ironing board

This is another way to apply heat to dust mites and their eggs with fatal consequences (for them).

Do you have to have a special washing machine?

One study has suggested that top-loading machines might be more effective at killing dust mites in the cold wash than regular front-loaders. Typically the laundry is submerged for longer, drowning dust mites, while it’s agitated. Front-loaders tend to rinse and spin several times. But there are now high efficiency washers of both types that use far less water. And some washing machines even squirt steam now.

Allergist with a white coat, stethoscope and clipboard, explaining to her patient all about dust mite allergy treatment.

How do you treat dust mite allergy?

Your regular washer can help you manage your dust mite allergy, whatever type it is. But if you do need a new one, check what manufacturers says about allergen management. You can always contact them for more information.

Just make sure your washer dryer or tumble dryer vents to the outside, if possible, so as not to raise the humidity in your home.

Treatment for dust mite allergy

High altitudes and hospital rooms have a chance of being dust-mite free but it’s not realistic for most homes. Even if you follow our dust mite laundry tips, you may need symptom relief. Options range from simple saline nasal sprays and eye drops to antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants. Ask your pharmacist for advice. Or talk to your healthcare provider. They can also tell you about allergy immunotherapy.

Allergy immunotherapy is a longer term treatment which takes 3–5 years. The aim is to retrain your immune system with repeated tiny doses of your allergen so that it reacts differently. It could help to reduce your symptoms, if it’s suitable for you.


Dust mites don’t like heat, whether that’s hot water, a spin in the tumble dryer or being ironed. But washing in either hot or cold water will drown many mites and remove a lot of their allergens. You can stick with your usual powder or liquid detergent but using a laundry additive or certain essential oils as well may kill more mites.

Fewer allergens should mean less trouble from dust mite allergy symptoms. But you may still need short-term relief or even allergy immunotherapy, a long-term treatment.

Happy laundry day
We hope you find our dust mite laundry tips helpful in creating a healthier environment for you and your family. Email us if you’ve got any questions, or tips of your own to share. You can also find klarify on Facebook and Instagram.
klarify takes allergy science and makes it simple, and we have rigorous process for doing this. We use up-to-date and authoritative sources of information. Medical experts review our content before we share it with you. They and the klarify editorial team strive to be accurate, thorough, clear and objective at all times. Our editorial policy explains exactly how we do this.

Last medically reviewed on 13/12/2022


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