Today I'll be addressing how to treat your bed linens for the maximum amount of dust mite and pollen elimination with the minimum amount of labor. The first and most logical step is, of course, to wash your bedding weekly. Later in the article I'll discuss what to do for those weeks when that's just not possible.
When laundering your bed sheets always use the hot water setting. The temperature of the water should be at a minimum of 130 degrees to kill dust mites. You can easily test the temperature of your wash water with a thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer you can check the temperature of your water with an inexpensive waterproof digital thermometer such as one of these:
Simply hold the metal probe under the running water as the washer is filling until the temperature readout remains steady. If the water temperature is lower than 130 degrees you will need to adjust the setting just slightly on your hot water tank. Make sure you allow enough time for the water in the tank to reach the new temperature before testing your wash water again. When you have reached the right temperature, you can be sure you are killing the dust mites while washing away any excrements and pollens that might be in the bedding and causing your allergic symptoms.
Another method to kill dust mites utilizes essential oil. This is a great alternative for items that can't be washed in hot water. You'll not only kill the mites, but your bedding will smell clean and fresh as well. Simply take a small glass jar and fill it with approximately one cup of tap water. Add to this 32 drops of pure eucalyptus essential oil and a half a teaspoon of witch hazel or vodka. This last ingredient is extremely important as it acts as an emulsifier helping the water to mix with the oil and prevent the pure essential oil from damaging the plastic lining of your washer. Essential oils and plastic don't mix. Over time the oil will eat through plastic. So just keep a small glass jar handy to mix the oil, water, and emulsifier in when you launder your bedding. If you like, you can add a small amount of another pure essential oil, such as lavender or orange, to change up the scent. Lavender oil has been found to have an impact on dust mites but is not as effective as eucalyptus. Be sure to use pure essential oils for their strength or you're just wasting your time. Your clothes may smell good, but you won't kill any mites. The Aura Cacia essential oils below are of good quality in a medium price range to get you started:
After your clothes go through the wash cycle, shake your jar up good and pour the contents into the rinse water when the washer is nearly filled. Alternatively, should you miss the rinse cycle, just pour several drops of the oils onto a small cloth and toss it into the dryer with the bedding on a high heat setting. Both of these options will work well with delicate bedding as well. Just make sure to use the recommended heat setting. Warm or cold water for the wash and delicate or low/no heat for the dryer. You will still kill the dust mites without shrinking your new cotton blanket or delicate duvet cover. I've also found some natural dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and laundry detergents at a reasonable cost and most have free shipping below:
And last but not least, here is the simple quick fix remedy I promised at the beginning of the article. Make your own linen spray. If you just can't find time this week to perform any of the above steps, simply mix up a batch of the recipe used for treating carpets, draperies, and upholstered furniture mentioned in a previous article, Dust Mites and What You Need to Know. Here's the recipe again. Mix 32 drops of eucalyptus oil in a small spray bottle with four ounces of water and 1/2 tsp. of witch hazel or vodka. Add a few drops of oils of your choice if you like, but I should mention here that orange oil is a pick me up oil and probably a poor choice if you are retiring soon. Lavender would be a better choice to mix in as it creates a calm and relaxing atmosphere to fall asleep. Now simply take the spray bottle and lightly spray down your sheets and pillowcases. Allow a few minutes to dry and voila! No pesky dust mites will bother you tonight. There should be enough spray in your bottle for several nights or you might want to spray your bedding in the morning when you throw back the sheets. Be sure to check the Quick Reminder Chart at the top of the page for helpful hints.