Family doctor



HOUSE DUST MITE GUARDS - a patient's guide


This article outlines measures to reduce exposure and how specialised covers may help reduce exposure to this common household allergen.

house mite guards

What are house dust mites?

The House Dust Mite is about 0.3mm in length and can only be seen with the aid of a microscope. The mites feed on particles of dead skin that we continuously lose from our bodies and which are a major component of house dust. The presence of dust mites is not related to the cleanliness of your house. All homes in New Zealand have dust mites.

Why are house dust mites such a problem?

The mites' faecal pellets are about the size of a pollen grain and they contain a potent protein allergen that people become sensitised to and develop the allergic conditions of asthma, eczema and chronic rhinitis.

About 75% of all asthma sufferers have house dust mite allergy. House dust mites are a particular problem in New Zealand as they reproduce rapidly in our warm, humid climate and produce extremely high concentrations of allergen in our homes.

How can we avoid house dust mite allergen?

By far the greatest exposure to dust mite allergen occurs in our beds where we spend 6-8 hours each night in close contact with extremely high allergen levels. Specialised barrier covers fitted to the mattress, pillow and duvet are the only means of effectively reducing this exposure.

Frequent vacuuming, removal of fitted carpets and damp dusting are useful means of further lowering allergen levels but fitting covers to the bed is the most important and effective step to take.

Other steps to avoid house dust mites:

  • Discard old vacuum cleaners and buy one with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter system
  • Vacuum bedroom and living room carpets (if still in place) every day
  • Vacuum all soft furnishings at least once a week
  • Wash (55 degrees) and freeze soft toys once a month
  • Ventilate the house well either by opening windows or by installing a ventilation system
  • Do not increase the humidity in the home by drying washing on radiator, or cooking or bathing with no ventilation

Who will benefit from mite allergen avoidance?

Clinical research studies have clearly shown that when exposure to house dust mite allergen is reduced below critical levels, asthma and allergy symptoms improve and medication requirements are reduced. Benefits to mite-sensitive patients with asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema) and chronic rhinitis (inflamed and runny or blocked nose) have been demonstrated by allergen avoidance studies that have included the use of allergen barrier bedding covers.


MiteGuard2 allergen barrier bedding covers are made in New Zealand from a revolutionary new microweave fabric. The extremely tight weave of the fabric prevents allergen particle from passing through but is highly air breathable, providing the allergen barrier properties of a laminated fabric but without the added weight, stiffness and heat build up.

Tests by two US universities have found the covers block more than 99.9 percent of dust mite allergen.

Protection from dust mite allergen using MiteGuard2

MiteGuard2 covers completely enclose the mattress, pillow or duvet, providing immediate protection from allergens in the bed. Your normal sheets and covers are fitted over the top of the allergen barrier covers. Electric blankets can be used safely with MiteGuard2 covers.

Continued protection from allergen is best achieved by washing your bed linen each week in hot water. (Dust mites are killed in hot water at temperatures above 55¬?C). The MiteGuard2 covers can be wiped with a damp cloth or vacuumed at this time to remove any accumulated dust mite allergen. We recommend that the MiteGuard2 covers are washed in hot water at least once each month.

Getting help:

Contact: Allergen Control Services, PO Box 15-720, New Lynn, Auckland. Ph (09) 817 4669.

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