Dust Mites and Castile Soap

Eeew. To me that’s a pretty icky word in the title there. Dust Mites are something I don’t like to think about, especially not in the context of their residence in my house. However, just slightly below them in my grossness hierarchy is the dust itself. One reason to keep up with regular cleaning is to reduce the presence of dust mites in my house. The idea that dust causes people to sneeze is somewhat valid, but what is of greater concern – and potentially dangerous to asthmatics – are the dust mites which feed on the dust.

Because cute covers can hide creepy crawlies, add castile soap to your laundry regimen.

I always equated dust with dirt – very fine dirt. I figured we have a lot of it because we have five people and two dogs tracking in dirt from the outside. While there certainly is some dirt in my household’s dust, it’s not at the top of the list. A variety of sources agreed on what this article from Time summed up:

  • Nearly everywhere, dust consists of some combination of shed bits of human skin, animal fur, decomposing insects, food debris, lint and organic fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics, tracked-in soil, soot, particulate matter from smoking and cooking, and, disturbingly, lead, arsenic and even DDT.(http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1966870,00.html#ixzz1t1Oj1KSs)

So let me say it again: Eeeeewww!
And dust mites find this medley quite tasty. So where there is dust, there are dust mites. Just to lay it all on the table, the exoskeletons and poop from the dust mites cause an immune system response in sensitive individuals. (Although, I would imagine that inhaling any bug – technically an arachnid here – would be problematic.)

The best habitat for dust mites are carpets and bedding. Such places are sheltered and cozy with lots of nooks for dust and lots of opportunities to snag skin particles, animal fur, lint, and the rest of that list above. In regards to human breathing, however, the bedding is the main concern. By in large, unusual circumstances notwithstanding, we spend more time lying in our beds than we do on our carpets. Fortunately for us, it’s easier to wash our bedding than our carpets.

Here’s where the castile soap enters in
As I’ve covered earlier in regards to spraying for ants, castile soap dissolves exoskeletons. So, when it comes to treating for dust mites, this particular attribute of castile soap once again comes in handy. Normally I use Sal Suds for my laundry – it is slightly better at whitening whites and getting rid of stains. However, for my bedding, I reach for Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap – usually the peppermint, but any one of them will be effective.

Heat also kills dust mites, so with the combo of heat and castile, there’s really little chance for survival. Bedding should be washed frequently because new mites take up residence regularly. Also, the combo of high heat and frequent washings can take a toll on fabrics, so opt for 100% cotton fabrics with a moderately high thread count (300+).

The recipe*:

  • 1/3 c. castile soap
  • 1/2 c. vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Hot dryer

Add the castile soap to the bedding in the washer. Set the washer at the hottest setting. Put vinegar in the fabric softener cup, so that it will be added during the rinse cycle. (Castile soap can leave a residue on fabrics washed in hard water. Vinegar eliminates this residue.) Dry the bedding on the hottest setting.

*This is for a regular, top-loading washer. If you have an HE machine, cut each of the measurements by half.

84 thoughts on “Dust Mites and Castile Soap

    • Distilled white vinegar for the laundry. I’ve used it very successfully as a “fabric softener” in the laundry. Be aware though, I have also had horrible results with it. In our current water, the vinegar leaves a horrible stink when used in the rinse, but is still wonderful for initial disinfecting on towels and children’s bedding when used in the pre-wash cycle. If you find you have stink issues after using vinegar in the rinse, don’t be afraid to drop it.

  1. Jim, I use Heinz white vinegar in my fabric softener compartment in my HE washer. It reduces static, softens clothes, and gets rid of any residue. Heinz supposedly smells the best as far as vinegar goes. You can’t smell it on your clothes. Good Luck!

  2. What do you use to reduce static cling. I have used white vinegar in the rinse cycle but there still remains static cling after using the dryer. Thanks!

  3. I too am wondering about the vinegar. Apple cider or white? Is this thread closed?

  4. How much can I dilute solution to make a dish detergent ? Love this product !

  5. Wool Yarn Balls work for the static cling, you can make them or purchase them online, just do a google search. I have used aluminum foil balls for static but I think the aluminum could be toxic so I stopped using that.

  6. I recently learned the best way to eliminate static cling is to reduce your drying temperature to medium and dry them for longer. I have been using this method and have eliminated my static cling problem. I didn’t realize it would be so simple. It also allowed me to eliminate the extra cost of fabric softener or dryer sheets and there chemicals.

    • Hi Jetta – My household doesn’t know the meaning of “small or medium loads”. 🙂 I use 1/2 c. in a large load, so for smaller loads, use less.

  7. Hi, I’m from the Netherlands an d I don’t know what a HE Machine is? I have just a normal Bosch machine.

    • High-Efficiency Washers
      HE washers use much less water and energy. On the other hand, they have longer washing time.
      Standard laundry detergent is not recommended for HE washers since less water us used in each load.
      Too much detergent woillclog up the machine because the amount of water it uses is not sufficient to rinse it out. That build up can cause the machine to malfunction and to eventually create an offensive odor.
      Most HE manufacturers and their warranties suggest special HE detergent.

      If one were to use regular laundry detergent, use less of it. A lot less — approximately one-fourth the amount you might normally use and dilute the detergent with water before pouring into the machine..

    • HE Machines are front loading cloths washing machines. In Europe American Top-loading washers are almost unknown… You most likely have a HE washing machine. (I am originally from CH and know this.)

  8. hi,im wondering in the measurements, does ‘c’ stand for cup or cap or laundry cap or dr bronners bottle cap?….

    • Most recipes use c or c. for an 8-ounce cup.
      If the recipe calls for the bottle’s cap, it would be stated plainly such as “Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap bottle cap.”

  9. I have heard you can use an organic conditioner instead of vinegar in the rinse cycle. Has this worked? Will it perform the same?

  10. Would love to try this but I am worried about the vinegar reacting to the Castile soap and making the slimy substance when they are combined. We have a new he washer and I would hate for it to get mucked up.

    • If your fabric softener compartment doesn’t release until after the soap is rinsed out, you would be all right. However, I don’t know how you would test that. Maybe your manual would say. You are right in thinking if the two combine in your laundry, it would be a mess. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds doesn’t have this issue, though. If you used the Sal Suds with the vinegar, you would be fine.

  11. 1/2 1/3 c. You mean a cup or you mean the cup of the soap bottle.Thank you 😀

    • Hi Sara – A measuring cup, which is about 119 ml for a 1/2 cup or 79 ml for 1/3 cup.

  12. In a HE washer…the soap would be 2Tbsp+2tsp of castille soap?? And it should be placed into the detergent cup and not on the bedding correct?

    • Hi Yvette – Generally we say that an HE machine would take half of what a regular would take, so for the soap that would be 1/4 c. of soap and vinegar. For the Sal Suds, that would be 2 Tbsp. of each. Put the soap or Sal Suds in the detergent spot and the vinegar in the fabric softener spot.

  13. Hi,
    I live In Germany, so have an HE front loader and hard water. Vinegar does´t sound so fun, so I have been wondering about trying baking soda instead of vinegar to soften the water….have you any experience with that?

    • Hi Deborah – I do add baking soda to my laundry sometimes, as well. However, I add it for whitening and deodorizing purposes. It is an alkaline. Vinegar is an acid, which lifts the mineral deposits that hard water leaves behind. I don’t think baking soda would have the same effect.

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