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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Dust Mite Mania

We are launching a full-scale attack against dust mites in our homes.  A tricky proposition, since the little buggers cannot be seen with the human eye.  Hard to verify whether they’re in your house or not.

We imagine we may be infested because:  a) one of our dogs has bad allergies; and b) we are not clean people.

I used to be a clean person.  I used to be many positive and productive things.  That was long before Dogs, Children, and Responsibilities.  Then we got a cleaning woman to help on an occasional basis.  Then she started breaking a lot of things.  Then the economy flopped.

Consequently, rather than have our tiny treasures smashed to smithereens, as well as having to decide whether to feed our family or enjoy a clean home, we opted for filth.  I’m not talking about trash in the hallways, or dishes piled high, I’m talking about that nagging feeling that you wouldn’t want anyone to arrive to visit unannounced.

Our non-shedding dogs contributed hair that collected in the corners of our houses like tumbleweeds on the prairie.  The heavily-used kitchen sported sticky spots on the floor and in the corners no matter how much I swabbed and swiped.  Contraband candy crept into the crevices of our couches, along with pencil shavings-?!

I designated one entire day to clean. We probably needed a month, but you do what you can.  Basic cleaning was called-for, even before we would deal with the mites.  Given the fact that we are pretty much year-round homeschoolers, the children jumped at any chance to dodge the Dreaded Schoolwork.  They dusted, and vacuumed, and mopped with great gusto.

I gave everyone a week to recuperate after that, before launching into the Dust Mite Eradication Program.

“Kids,” I explained.  “You know that Misha has bad allergies.  Oftentimes, these are caused by dust mites.  The mites themselves don’t bite, or cause allergies, but once they die, their dead bodies and poo-poo, also microscopic, can cause rashes on the skin.”

The children grimaced at the thought.

“Analysts tell us that between 10,000 and 100,000 dust mites can live in one bed mattress, or in a sofa, or in the carpeting.  So we have to help our dear doggies and get rid of the buggies….”

Our family’s multi-pronged approach included heat, sunshine, and eucalyptus oil.  We would wash and dry whatever we could, such as bedding, at very high temperatures.  Then we would place it in the sunshine just in case not everything had died.  Next, the kids would beat the sofa cushions and pillows after they had been in the sun, hopefully knocking off all of the unwanted refuse.  And on the unmoveable objects, such as mattresses and wall-to-wall carpeting, we sprayed the essential oil of eucalyptus, diluted with water, which the dust mites were said to dislike to the point of death.


The house smelled really fresh, at least.  Not to mention that it was clean.

We all slept very well that night, probably due to exhaustion, more than any missing mites.  The dogs slept soundly, too, either from watching us in our flurry of frenzied fervor, or from the buggies going bye-bye once and for all..

Clean.  It was something I could get used to again.

And just in case there were any lingering creepy-crawlies of any persuasion, as we left one house for another, we set off a slew of bug bombs.

Take that!  (If you even existed in the first place.)



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Phyllis says:

    Do you know if eucalyptus oil will have affects on bed bugs? Our daughter is dealing with those out west where she is completing her internship. She just may have a valid excuse to get a whole new wardrobe before she is allowed back into our house. : ) Hope your little unwanted guests are gone when you arrive back home.

    • avatar admin says:

      No, I don’t think so, Phyllis. Not that we are sure it works with the dust mites, either, since you can’t see them-! At least you can see bed bugs. I’m sorry that your daughter is going through this, how awful. If you read halfway down this blog post, it suggests Diatomeceous Earth (DE), which is organic. http://dailytiffin.blogspot.com/2008/07/dont-let-bed-bugs-bite.html

      This site seems to say that DE will get rid of mites, as well: http://wolfcreekranch1.tripod.com/diatomaceous_earth_mites.html and to only use the food grade DE if pets are nearby.

      I understand that steam cleaning and wrapping everything in big plastic bags (sealed airtight) will also work to eradicate the bed bugs. I was eaten alive in a foreign country once and it’s not fun, that’s for sure-! Here’s hoping she gets relief soon.

  2. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Oh, boy, do I GET this!

    When my back finally quit completely (25 April, to be exact) and I realized that it was going to be a LONG recovery, I sent out messages to everyone I know who might know a teen in need of casual work.

    An old friend, our age, asked if it would be too weird if she offered to do the work. Too weird? NO! A GIFT FROM GOD!

    Three weeks into the Lori program, all of our floors are clear, sort of clean, have been vacuumed multiple times… Yesterday we went through the contents of the girls’ bedrooms and sorted, stacked and evicted the refuse. Next week we move a set of shelves so D’s soft toys have homes INSIDE her room.

    Then we tackle finishing up the organization of my sewing area, a move I started a year ago LAST April (ie. 14 months ago), when older DD really NEEDED her own room and I needed to commandeer younger DD’s room as a haven for sorting and stacking and reducing stuff. Younger DD got my sewing area and I got — about 1/3 of the basement!

    We have lived through the architects’ visit this week. YAY! CLOSETS! Can you say ‘Closets!’ and ‘Full bathroom on the main floor of the house,’ and ‘A window would give actual light in older DD’s room,’ and ‘Get that stupid island out of the center of the kitchen, move the refrigerator to the corner of the room near the sink, and build a pantry,’ and other associated lovely ideas. Sketches and pricing to follow. Fortunately for us, the architects, husband and wife, are our friends and they also are purists… The husband built our living room 15 years ago, and it’s time for another adjustment so that the house works with the expanded family.

    BTW that family now is: TWO parents, TWO daughters, TWO dogs, TWO fish, TWO toads and (at the moment) 6 crickets. I spent part of the morning doing toad and cricket maintenance.

    DH and I are discussing whether to put hardwood or carpet in the MBR, to replace the 24 year old, builder’s spec carpeting that has survived very sick dogs! I want hardwood, having dealt with fleas (in a very bad flea year) in a previous life and fearing dust mites. He wants wall-to-wall because he doesn’t want walking barefoot in the bedroom to remind him that we need to vacuum!


    PS About bed bugs, The NYT has run several articles on the subject recently. Here are excerpts from three of those articles.

    1) http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/b/bedbugs/index.html : “The experts then apply a silica-gel-based pesticide like Drione to the infected areas and hope for the best.”

    2) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/health/14brod.html “Most people who are bitten by bed bugs do not react. Of the 30 percent or so who do, many mistake the small, pink, itchy bumps for mosquito bites, although people may become more suspicious and more sensitive with repeated bites.

    People who are highly sensitive react with intense itching that prompts scratching and can lead to infections. One Brooklyn family did not know they were sharing quarters with bed bugs until a sensitive relative visited and woke in the morning with very itchy bites.

    Still others may experience more extreme reactions, including asthma, generalized hives, and even a life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) that requires emergency treatment with epinephrine.”

    3) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/science/31bedbug.html?pagewanted=2 “Both Mr. Cooper and Dr. Goddard said they routinely pull apart beds and even headboards when they check into hotels. Dr. Goddard keeps his luggage in the bathroom. Mr. Cooper heat-treats his when he gets home.”

    • avatar admin says:

      Keeping your luggage in the hotel bathroom is brilliant, Gwendolyn–if only I could find a bathroom big enough. Some of those space-capsule Euro showers barely hold me… I guess the bidet could always be used as a luggage rack, lol.

      Sorry to hear about your back, but happy to hear about your helper. She sounds like a real God-send. I don’t understand about the “old friend, our age”– are you saying you’re old, lol? Or the friendship is old? Or you’re really a teen and you think that’s old? 🙂

      I love carpeting in the bedrooms, but the more I think about it, it may be time to switch to hardwood there, too (or Tuscan terra cotta tile… but that could be cold depending on where you live)….

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