My method for removing dust and invisible pests from floors and rugs:
- Obtain normal cooking/table salt.
- Pour salt into mortar (of mortar and pestle), add one drop of bergamot essential oil and grind salt into a fine powder. Keep away from skin. Make sure there is enough salt to cover all rugs.
- Sprinkle powdered, scented salt onto rugs.* Let sit for at least a few hours but preferably for a few days.
- Sweep up resulting salt-dust patches. Breathe easier.
*If using essential oils, make sure pets, especially cats, are not in the vicinity. To avoid inhaling the powder, fill a salt shaker and sprinkle close to the floor.
I haven’t confirmed (with a microscope and experience) that this method is effective in getting rid of dust mites after an infestation. A real infestation would require more work, like laundering, steam cleaning and fumigating. I use this method instead of my previous washing soda/baking soda method to get a more thorough floor and rug cleaning, so it is a (fun) weekly routine that I follow to prevent an infestation and the sickness that comes with one. In the summer, the hot and humid weather can encourage an infestation, and in the winter, the heating, darkness and reduced air circulation also favor dust mite growth.
I got the main idea for this procedure from a patent for killing dust mites with various salts (US5271947 A). I’m not sure that table salt (sodium chloride) alone is a powerful acaracide (mite killer), but I believe that it is very effective when powdered and mixed with bergamot oil.
Sodium chloride is a well-known dessicant, so it could dry out the mites. Grinding the salt into a powder makes it more effective, because the newly exposed surfaces can absorb more moisture from the air, cloths and insects. The powder can also travel deeper into rugs than regular salt crystals from the box. The real danger of dust mites are the chronic allergic reactions that can occur in response to their feces and dead body parts. The salt can help grab these allergens (through electrostatic interactions), so that the allergens can be swept up along with the salt.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) oil is a somewhat well-known antibacterial, fungicidal and insecticidal agent. It contains furocoumarins, in particular bergamottin and bergapten. Grapefruit also has these compounds and effects, and the ‘grapefruit juice effect‘ (interaction with many medications) is due to certain furocoumarins. The furocoumarins are also toxic to insects and mammals that come into contact with them and are exposed to sunlight (phototoxic). Raw bergamot/grapefruit oil should not be applied to the skin (without proper medical instruction).
I love the calming, other-worldly smell of bergamot from the salt (also in Earl Grey tea) and haven’t had any reaction after walking on the scented salt barefoot, but I am still cautious with the concentrated chemicals. I only use one drop each time and don’t go out in the sun right away. The salt is used to absorb/release, dilute and disperse the essential oil throughout the area.