Dust-sensitive individuals, especially those with allergies and asthma, can reduce some of their misery by creating a "dust-free" bedroom. Dust may contain molds, fibers, and dander from dogs, cats, and other animals, as well as tiny dust mites. These mites, which live in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets, thrive in the summer and die in the winter. The particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include dead mites and their waste products; the waste products actually provoke the allergic reaction.
The routine cleaning necessary to maintain a dust-free bedroom also can help reduce exposure to cockroaches, another important cause of asthma in some allergic people.
Most people cannot control dust conditions under which they work or spend their daylight hours. But everyone can, to a large extent, eliminate dust from the bedroom. To create a dust-free bedroom, it is necessary to reduce the number of surfaces on which dust can collect. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggests the following guidelines, arranged from most important to least important:
- Carpeting makes dust control impossible. Although shag carpets are the worst type for the dust-sensitive person, all carpets trap dust. Therefore, hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors are preferred. Treating carpets with tannic acid eliminates some dust mite allergen, but tannic acid is not as effective as removing the carpet, is irritating to some people, and must be repeatedly applied.