Can Dust Mites Live in Memory Foam Mattresses? That’s a question that often comes up when people are looking to purchase a new mattress. More people purchase memory foam mattresses than pillows filled with memory foam. However, the same question will apply! Can dust mites live in memory foam pillows?
Dust mites live by eating your skin cells. Not live ones, but dead ones. You shed around 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every hour, so if you are in bed for 8 hours each day you will shed between 240,000 to 320,000 skin cells (give or take a few). That’s a whole heap of meals for dust mites!
Why are They Called Dust Mites?
Dust mites are so-called because they live off the dust in your home. The vast majority of dust comprises the approximately one million skin cells that you shed every day. They accumulate in your carpets and on your bed and are the main constituents of the dust on the surfaces of your furniture. Fundamentally, then, dust mites eat your shed skin cells.
Why not just let them get on with it then, and consume all your dust? Because of they, themselves, become a nuisance and you can become allergic to them. Dust mites are not insects, but arachnids. They belong to the spider family and are very tiny. You can breathe them in and they can cover your body when you sleep. So yes, they can live anywhere you sleep including memory foam mattresses and pillows.
What Causes Allergies: Dust or Dust Mites
Many people are allergic to the dust in their own homes. This allergy can take any of several forms:
- Runny nose
- Itchy and red eyes with tears
- General itchiness
- Wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest – this can be serious with those particularly allergic to dust mites.
In some cases, such allergies can need medical attention. Asthmatics, in particular, should seek medical help.
However, it is not the dust, but the dust mites that are causing the vast majority of these allergic reactions. There is only one effective way to protect you and your family, and that is to remove the dust mites. Every household in the world has them – anywhere people shed their skin cells, dust mites will be found that feed off these cells. So this has nothing to do with you personally, although you can take steps to reduce their population.
It is the dust mites that trigger the allergic reactions. Unless you can remove the dust mites, you will not be able to control the allergy. So how do you achieve that? How do you control dust mites to the extent that those allergic to them cannot breathe them in? Can memory foam deter them, or can dust mites live in memory foam mattresses and pillows?
Here is a site that explains what dust mites are and how they can harm you: http://acaai.org/allergies/types/dust-allergy
Memory Foam and Dust Mites
Memory foam is still regarded by many people as a miracle foam. It was developed by NASA to protect astronauts from the high G-forces needed to escape Earth’s gravity. Many people believe that dust mites cannot live in memory foam. However, there is no reason why this foam should not collect your shed skin cells as any other foam would. Sure, a more open-cell foam will collect more, but it’s what’s lying on the surface of your mattress or pillow that will affect you – not what’s buried into the foam.
How about innerspring mattresses? Other life forms, such as bedbugs, can proliferate in the space available inside innerspring mattresses, but how about dust mites? These mites eat, breed and poop on the surface of your mattress. If you have an innerspring mattress then they also do so inside the mattress. The trouble is, it is not them you have to worry about, it’s the ones on the surface of your mattress. That means a memory foam mattress can be just as much a problem as an innerspring mattress – they both have an outer surface, and that’s where the issue lies!
So what is it that causes health issues for you and your family?
Dust Mites and Your Health
It’s not just the dust mites themselves that causes the allergic reaction (sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, sore red eyes, itchiness and inflammation) – it is their excretions. Dust mites excrete waste to which your body can react badly. Your immune system can generate antibodies to what it sees as an attack by germs. The result can often be same as if you really did have a disease: redness, puffiness and other effects of your own immune system.
You may have other respiratory conditions, and breathing in dust mites and their excretions can create a reaction by your immune system that can be very dangerous to your health. Swelling in your throat and larynx can lead to extreme difficulty in breathing, just as with a severe asthma attack. So never underestimate the danger than dust mites can cause to your health – particularly if you have breathing problems.
How Can You Avoid Dust Mites?
You cannot eradicate dust mites completely. They live off the skin cells of you and your family, and also of your pets. That’s one reason why it’s not recommended to allow your dog or cat in or on your bed. Every time they scratch they shed thousands of skin cell – and dust mites are not fussy about the source of their food.
Mattresses and pillows are a 5-star accommodation to them. You shed loads of skin cells when sleeping, and it is generally a warm environment. Warmth, comfort and loads of food: what more can you want. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what type of mattress you have. Dust, skin cells and dust mites will be all over them.
You can’t do much to reduce the extent of the problem. If you vacuum the mattress, the dust and mites are small enough to be blown into the air. Some can get through your filters, although if the air gets through then skin cells and mites are small enough to get through the filters. They can also get blown all over your bedroom, and even back onto your mattress.
Benefits of Memory Foam Mattresses
You can remove dust mites by sprinkling baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) onto the mattress then vacuum it up. Even better, add a few drops of essential oil and mix it all up before sprinkling. The oil attaches to the dust mites so they cannot escape. It also gives a nice smell to the mattress afterward.
One of the benefits of using a memory foam mattress is that the smooth surface of such mattresses makes it easy to clean and vacuum up your shed skin cells and dust mites. An innerspring mattress is less easy to clean than a memory foam mattress. This is particularly true if you have a removable/zippered cover on the foam mattress.
Remove the cover for machine washing, and give the surface of the mattress a good vacuum. This should keep your sleeping surface as free of dust and mites as possible. A hypoallergenic mattress cover is even more likely to protect you from allergic reactions to dust mites. Zippered covers seal your mattress more effectively than elasticized covers that stretch over the top of the mattress.
Conclusion: Can Dust Mites Live in Memory Foam Mattresses and Pillows?
Yes, they can, but overall they will tend to contain fewer skin cells and dust mites than innerspring mattresses. The same is true of latex foams: they also harbor dust mites but are also easy to clean. There are arguments for and against all types of mattress. Ultimately, a memory foam mattress, or any foam mattress in a solid, flat construction, will be easier to clean than an innerspring mattress where mites and bedbugs can thrive inside the mattress structure.
The main answer to keeping dust mites as isolated as possible is to use a cover, particularly a hypoallergenic mattress cover. You can use these on any type of mattress to significantly reduce the population of dust mites. Regular vacuuming also helps. The same applies to pillows – memory foam pillows are easier to clean and keep free of dust mites than feather or softer foam pillows.
Can dust mites live in memory foam mattresses? Yes, but more ‘on’ than ‘in’ them. They can be removed from your mattress surface as explained above, and a removable, washable mattress cover will certainly help – particularly a hypoallergenic type.
Continue Reading: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs from a Mattress »