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Can Dust Mites Live in Latex Mattresses? (The Truth)

You may have heard that dust mites cannot live in latex mattresses.

However, this information is usually found on the websites of latex mattress manufacturers, retailers, and their affiliates.

Whilst those who say that latex mattresses cannot help you if you have a dust mite allergy are typically selling memory foam or innerspring mattresses!

So who’s right – can dust mites live in latex mattresses or not?

There’s currently no scientific evidence or publicly available studies that prove that dust mites cannot live in latex mattresses. Therefore, it’s possible that dust mites can live in a latex mattress if there’s a suitable food source present – such as human or animal skin cells (dander) or some types of moldand the temperature is 68 – 77°F (20 – 25°C) with sufficient humidity.

However, some latex mattresses may hold beneficial properties that may inhibit mold growth and resist moisture – which could make the mattress less hospitable for dust mites.

If you have a dust mite allergy and you’re considering buying a latex mattress then keep reading to find out the unbiased truth.

Because I’ve done some serious research and dug up some interesting studies that can help you to cut through the marketing guff and half-truths that you’ll find in abundance on the websites of mattress manufacturers.

And I’ve presented the findings in a clear way that should make sense to you without having to hold a degree in microbiology. 🙂

But you can skip right to the conclusion at the end of the article if you’d like a practical 4 step strategy for combating dust mites and understanding the relatively small amount of importance that buying a latex mattress has in the overall process in my personal opinion.

Dust Mites Can Live in Latex Mattresses

Some manufacturers may say that dust mites simply cannot live inside a latex mattress – or that latex is naturally resistant to dust mites.

This is a half-truth.

Because there’s no clear, objective proof that dust mites cannot live in a latex mattress to the best of my knowledge.

However, there’s some evidence that natural latex mattresses may inhibit mold growth and repel moisture – which may partially support the claim that latex mattresses are dust mite resistant because such properties could make the mattress less hospitable for dust mites.

For example, one of the food sources of dust mites is mold [1], whilst the ideal temperature for survival is between 68 – 77°F (20 – 25°C) [2] – but they will struggle to survive if the humidity is less than 45% at 72°F (22 °C) [3].

And it’s been shown that a protein called hevein – that’s present in the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) and is present in some latex mattresses – has antimicrobial properties [4] which implies that some latex mattresses may be able to inhibit some types of mold growth and therefore potentially make the mattress less hospitable to dust mites.

Furthermore, natural rubber latex is ‘extremely waterproof’ [5] – implying that a latex mattress could be resistant to water and therefore reduce the level of moisture in the mattress possibly to the extent that it inhibits mold growth and the dampness required for dust mites to survive.

What You Need to Know About Dust Mite Allergy – National Jewish Health.

So it’s entirely possible that buying a latex mattress COULD help to combat your dust mite allergy.

But it’s not that simple.

Because the anti-microbial hevein protein (Hev b 6.02) can also cause an allergic reaction in some people [6] – so some manufacturers may not include it in their latex mattresses.

The bottom line here is that not every latex mattress is guaranteed to have the antimicrobial properties that could otherwise help to hinder mold growth and therefore contribute to dust mite suppression.

And in my view, there are more practical factors that may have a greater bearing on whether or not you’ll experience an allergic reaction to dust mites when you lie down.

Below are some examples.

Tightly Woven Mattress Covers Prevent Dust Mites

Although there are no studies that specifically show that latex cannot be penetrated by dust mites, there are some for other types of materials.

For example, this study concluded that tightly woven covers and plastic casings prevented dust mite penetration [7].

So if your mattress comes with a tightly woven cover then it might not matter what the core of the mattress is made from.

Alternatively, you can purchase tightly woven, waterproof, ‘anti-bed bug/dust mite’ mattress protectors online which you can place on top of your existing or new mattress to hamper dust mite penetration.

Your Pillows and Bedding Matter Too

Unless you’re planning on sleeping directly on your latex mattresses then your pillows and bedding are probably going to play a more important role in your reaction to dust mites since they form a substantial barrier between you and the mattress and are therefore more susceptible to dust mite penetration.

Therefore, washing your bedding regularly and vacuuming the mattress may have more of an impact in the lessening of your dust mite allergy than the decision of whether or not to buy a latex mattress.

Not Everyone is Allergic to Dust Mites

It’s the Der P1 and Der P5 allergens found in the fecal pellets of dust mites that cause the allergic reaction in your airways [8].

But have you had a skin or blood test confirm that you are allergic to dust mites?

Then your allergies may be caused by something else such as a pollen sensitivity or something else.

Don’t simply buy into the marketing hype that if you start sneezing when you lie down that you have a dust mite allergy or that you need to buy a latex mattress to prevent a reaction to dust mites.

Go and make an appointment with your doctor so that you can confirm the root trigger of your allergies.

Foam Mattresses Might Not Always Be Better Than Spring

When it comes to dust mite allergy control, the general advice in the mattress industry is that closed-cell, all-foam mattresses are superior to innerspring and hybrid mattresses because they lack the spacious core where dust mites could theoretically ‘hide’.

However, this study [9] concluded that replacing foam mattresses with spring mattresses may reduce the exposure to dust mite allergens – whilst also reinforcing the positive impact of having a mattress cover.

As such, it could be argued that innerspring mattresses are better than foam mattresses for dust-mite prevention.

However, I personally think that the study is too small and lacks enough depth for us to go against the current logic that all-foam designs likely have the edge over spring mattresses in the war against dust mites at the time of writing.

But it serves to illustrate the point that we shouldn’t take everything that the mattress industry tells us at face value.

Let me know your thoughts about innerspring vs foam vs latex mattresses for allergy control in the comments section at the end of the post if you have an opinion on this.

Related Questions

Before I wrap this article up with some actionable advice, here are the answers to some related dust mite and latex mattress questions.

How Do You Get Dust Mites Out of a Latex Mattress?

One of the easiest ways to get dust mites out of your latex mattress is to simply vacuum the mattress cover and wash your fitted sheet, flat sheet/duvet, and pillowcases in hot water at a temperature of at least 130°F (54.4°C) and/or put them in the dryer at the same temperature [10].

However, before you do this, make sure that you check the care labels to ensure that you won’t damage your bedding at these temperatures – never exceed the washing/drying temperatures or deviate from the methodology (hand-washing v machine washing, etc).

Can You Get Bed Bugs in a Latex Mattress?

Bed bugs can live in or on your latex mattress.

Eliminating bed bugs from your mattress and home may require the help of a professional pest controller – although a bed bug mattress encasement may help with the prevention and resolution of dealing with bed bugs in your latex mattress (or any type of mattress).

It’s important to note that bed bugs and dust mites are NOT the same thing – check out my bed bug v dust mite guide for a full explanation.

Can You Be Allergic to a Latex Mattress?

Although it’s possible to be allergic to a latex mattress, not every latex mattress is guaranteed to cause a reaction because it depends on if the mattress contains the various reactive protein allergens and which of those allergens you are allergic to.

Do Hypoallergenic Mattress Covers Prevent Dust Mites?

Hypoallergenic mattress covers may prevent dust mites from penetrating your latex mattress if they are tightly woven because the JACI study that I referenced earlier demonstrated the effectiveness of using a tightly woven cover to prevent dust mite penetration.

However, it’s worth noting that the term ‘hypoallergenic’ is an unregulated term that is thrown around by mattress manufacturers to promote their mattresses.

In fact, the FDA explicitly states on their website that:

There are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.”

Source: FDA – “Hypoallergenic” Cosmetics [11].

Your best course of action is to look for Asthma & Allergy Friendly® certified bedding and mattresses – although there was not much to choose from when I had a look.

A Latex Mattress is a Partial Solution

Many manufacturers make out that buying a latex mattress is the difference between experiencing a reaction to dust mites and sleeping allergy free.

But based on the studies that I’ve referenced in this article and my resulting opinions, I’d argue that if you have a dust mite allergy, the presence of a latex mattress is a relatively minor factor in controlling your allergy.

More specifically, I’d only really consider buying a latex mattress for this purpose if your existing mattress is more than 10 years old because the cover and materials may be worn out to the point where they are collecting dust and allergens in excess.

So to summarise this article in a meaningful way, here are the 4 actionable steps that you could take for controlling your dust mite allergy in order of potential importance:

1: Go to your doctor to confirm that you actually have a dust mite allergy.

2: Look for a mattress with a tightly woven cover that can block dust mites – or buy a mattress protector with the same qualities.

3: Wash your bedding and vacuum your mattress cover every 1-2 weeks.

4: Consider buying a latex mattress if your existing mattress is older than 10 years.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help.

Sources and References

[1], [3] Wikipedia – House Dust Mite. Accessed 7/5/20.

[2] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – Dust Mite Allergy. Accessed 7/5/20.

[4] NCBI – PubMed – Antimicrobial Activity of a Protein Purified from the Latex of Hevea Brasiliensis on Oral Microorganism. Accessed 7/5/20.

[5] Wikipedia – Natural Rubber. Accessed 7/5/20

[6] Wikipedia – Latex Allergy. Accessed 7/5/20.

[7] The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology – Mite Penetration of Different Types of Material Claimed as Mite Proof by the Siriraj Chamber Method. Accessed 7/5/20.

[8] NCBI – PubMed – House Dust Mite Major Allergens Der p 1 and Der p 5 Activate Human Airway-Derived Epithelial Cells by Protease-Dependent and Protease-Independent Mechanisms. Accessed 7/5/20.

[9] NCBI – PubMed – House-Dust Mites and Mattresses. Accessed 7/5/20.

[10] Mayo Clinic – Dust Mite Allergy. Accessed 7/5/20.

[11] FDA – “Hypoallergenic” Cosmetics. Accessed 7/5/20.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Bedroom Style’ by Frazaz (Getty Images Pro) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

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