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How hard are mites to get rid of?

Mites are tiny 8-legged creatures that can infest homes and cause skin irritation. Getting rid of a mite infestation can be challenging, but not impossible. Here is an overview of how difficult mites are to eliminate and the best ways to tackle an infestation.

How Big of a Problem are Mites?

There are over 48,000 known species of mites globally. Many mites are microscopic measuring just 1/100 of an inch. Due to their tiny size, they can easily go unnoticed in a home. Mites feed on skin cells, mold, fungi, bacteria, and decaying organic matter. When a mite infestation occurs indoors, some common signs include:

  • Itchy skin or rashes
  • Bites on the skin
  • Sensations of crawling on the skin
  • Mite waste or dead mites accumulating as grayish/black dust specks

Mites spread by direct contact between people, pets, or contaminated objects. They can travel between rooms on clothing and furniture. An infestation often starts small and builds over time. The longer an infestation goes undetected, the more challenging removal becomes.

Common Mite Species that Infest Homes

There are a few mite species most likely to inhabit human dwellings:

Dust Mites

Dust mites feed on skin cells shed by people and pets. They thrive in fabric materials like carpets, upholstered furniture, bedding, and stuffed toys. Their waste and decaying bodies accumulate as household dust. Dust mites don’t bite humans directly but can trigger allergic reactions and asthma.

Scabies Mites

Scabies mites burrow into the outer layer of human skin to feed and lay eggs. This causes an intensely itchy rash. Scabies spreads quickly through direct skin contact or sharing infested items like towels or bedding.

Bird and Rodent Mites

These mites normally feed on birds and rodents but can attack humans when their normal hosts die off. They will bite humans and can survive several days without a blood meal.

Fowl/Tropical Fowl Mites

As the names imply, these mites naturally live on birds but will bite humans when bird hosts aren’t available. The bites cause red, itchy welts.

Challenges of Eliminating a Mite Infestation

Mites can be tough to get rid of for several reasons:

  • Microscopic size – Mites can hide deep inside furniture, carpets, beds, and other items.
  • High reproduction rate – A female scabies mite can lay up to 50 eggs over a two-month lifespan. Other mites reproduce quickly as well.
  • Hardy survival ability – Mites can survive for days to weeks without a host to feed on.
  • Rapid spread – Mites transfer easily on human and pet skin, allowing an infestation to multiply.

Fully removing mites requires diligence, patience, and a systematic approach. Chemical sprays alone will not do the job. It’s important to combine thorough cleaning and containment along with repeated applications of miticides.

Effective Ways to Eliminate Mites

Here are the key steps involved in mite removal:

1. Inspection and Identification

Properly identifying the type of mite infestation is crucial. Samples may need to be examined under a microscope or sent to a lab for verification. This determines if the mites attack humans and guides appropriate treatment.

2. Aggressive Cleaning

Cleaning focuses on removing all traces of live mites, eggs, waste, and debris they can feed on. Typical steps include:

  • Vacuuming carpets, upholstery, mattresses, and other fabric items.
  • Washing all sheets, blankets, towels, and clothes in hot water and drying on high heat.
  • Scrubbing floors, baseboards, and other hard surfaces.
  • Cleaning inside closets, drawers, behind furniture and under beds.
  • Disinfecting with products containing bleach or benzyl benzoate.

3. Containment Measures

This involves sealing off infested areas to prevent mites from migrating and spreading. Methods include:

  • Isolating infested furniture or rooms with plastic sheeting.
  • Disposing of heavily infested mattresses, furniture, pillows, etc if they cannot be adequately cleaned.
  • Placing pest monitors or sticky traps around beds, sofas, and other areas to help detect migration.

4. Miticide Treatments

Applying miticides kills adult mites and eggs while providing residual activity to control future outbreaks. Types of products used include:

  • Pyrethrin-based sprays
  • Acaricides/carbamates (bendiocarb or propoxur)
  • Organophosphates (malathion)
  • Ivermectin
  • Benzyl benzoate

Treatment generally requires at least 2-3 applications spaced 2 weeks apart. Pillows, mattresses, box springs, furniture, carpets, drapes, and other fabrics will need to be sprayed.

5. Patient Follow Up

It can take 4-6 weeks to fully clear a mite problem. Ongoing monitoring and additional miticide applications may be needed if mites persist.

Cost and Effort to Eliminate Mites

The cost to eliminate a mite infestation really depends on the severity of the problem and size of the affected area. Here are some averages:

Treatment Type Average Cost
Minimum treatment of a small area (under 2 rooms) $200 – $600
Treatment of a 1,500 sq ft home $1,000 – $2,500
Treatment of a large 3+ bedroom home $3,000 – $6,000

Expect 1-2 professionals and likely follow up visits. Extensive infestations or difficult to treat species may cost substantially more requiring replacement of furnishings.

In terms of effort, the work is labor intensive but worthwhile. The homeowner must be diligent in cleaning, containing, applying chemicals, and monitoring. Some mess and inconvenience is inevitable. But sticking with the process leads to a mite-free home.

Preventing Mite Infestations

Prevention is the best approach to avoid mite headaches down the road. Here are some deterrent tips:

  • Reduce indoor humidity below 50% to discourage mites.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in mite-proof covers.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water to kill mites/eggs.
  • Thoroughly vacuum and clean rooms weekly.
  • Limit carpeted rooms and upholstered furniture.
  • Keep pets out of bedrooms and frequently groom them.
  • Inspect for signs of mites regularly.


Mites can be challenging to eliminate given their small size, rapid reproduction, and resilience. Expect the process to require diligent cleaning, containment, repeated chemical applications, and monitoring over 4-6 weeks. Professional treatment averages $1,000-$2,500 for a standard home depending on the severity.

While not easy, mites can be eradicated through comprehensive treatment. Combining miticide products, thorough cleaning, isolation tactics, and persistence will provide the best chance of ridding mites from a home. Prevention is also key by following proactive steps to deter infestations from developing.