Dust mites are tiny bugs that eat dead skin cells. Although the mites themselves are not harmful, many people are allergic to their droppings, which are present in mattresses, pillows, carpeting and furniture. According to the Dust Mites Center website, between 100,000 and 10 million dust mites can live in a single mattress. Luckily, there are several ways to get rid of dust mites, including essential oils. Spraying furniture and bedding with diluted oils, or washing bedding with hot water, soap and a few drops of oil may help get rid of dust mites.
Essential Oils That Kill Mites
Out of 14 essential oils tested by scientists at the Alexandria University in Egypt, clove oil proved to be the most effective in killing dust mites. Clove oil has a pleasant smell and is very safe when used conservatively, but it can be harmful in large amounts. Clove oil may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, and should be avoided by people who have kidney, liver or seizure disorders.
Chenopodium, also called epazote and wormseed, is used as a spice in Mexico and Central and South America. Researchers at Alexandria University found it to be the second most effective essential oil for killing dust mites, but this oil may be difficult to find in the United States.
Fennel, an oil with a licorice-like smell, is also effective in killing mites. This oil is relatively safe, but according to Botanicals.com, it should be used only in moderation, and avoided by people who are pregnant or have endometriosis or epilepsy.
Rosemary and Eucalyptus
Researchers at Alexandria University also found that caraway, rosemary and eucalyptus oils were somewhat effective on dust mites. Rosemary and eucalyptus were more effective when left in contact with the mites for 48 hours. These oils are all non-irritating and non-toxic, with very few adverse health effects, but Botanicals.com does not recommend that pregnant women use eucalyptus.
If you don't like the fragrance of these oils, you could try blending them with another essential oil to create a more acceptable flavor. Natural food stores often have tester bottles of essential oils so you can sample their smells and find a combination you like. In addition, blending two or more of the mite-killing essential oils could increase their effectiveness, as researchers found that some compounds in the oils work better in conjunction with others.