Dust mites on soft toys which can cause asthma among children, can be effectively removed by freezing, hot tumble drying or washing with eucalyptus oil and detergent, new research says.
The severity of asthma is proportional to the number of house dust mites (HDM) a child is exposed to when sleeping with soft toys, according to a study by University of Otago, New Zealand, and Changhua Christian Hospital, Taiwan.
“Children frequently sleep with their favourite toys close to their airways and this may be important for HDM-sensitized asthmatic children,” said Robert Siebers, associate professor, University of Otago.
The study set out to determine whether freezing of soft toys overnight, or hot tumble drying for one hour, or adding eucalyptus oil when washing, actually kills house dust mites. The study looked at 36 toys in three groups of 12, according to a statement from the university.
“The results are very positive, and we found the vast majority of house dust mites on the soft toys used were killed by either one of these three methods,” Siebers was quoted as saying by the journal Paediatric Allergy and Immunology.
Freezing of toys for at least 16 hours at 15 degrees Celsius resulted in a 95 percent reduction of HDM while hot tumble drying for one hour reduced mites by 89 percent.
Soaking in an emulsion of eucalyptus oil and liquid detergent for one hour, then rinsing and drying, also resulted in an HDM reduction of 95 percent, said Siebers.