By Rebekah Ellis
Murphy News Service
Monica and Dave Soleta know what happens when you’re in bed.
“Everybody sheds about a million skin cells an hour,” Dave said. “When you sleep in your bed, you’ve got about 8 million skin cells a night. What happens to them?”
He answers his own question: The cells become meals for dust mites, your microscopic bedmates.
While dust mites are not parasitic or harmful, a protein called Der P1 found in dust mite feces and dead dust mites is a source of itchy-eyed, sneezy misery for many people.
Dust mites are a major trigger for allergies and asthma, the American Lung Association reports, and four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergen in at least one bed.
Dave Soleta of Eden Prairie was one of these allergy sufferers until he tried a method of mattress sanitation from Florida-based company Hygienitech. Surprised and pleased by the reduction of his symptoms, the Soletas took advantage of Monica’s recent job loss to start their home business D&M Mattress Sanitizing last December.
D&M Mattress Sanitizing is one of 800 global independent authorized Hygienitech service providers.
“They’re an advocate, they’re support, but (we’re) not a franchise,” said Dave.
What the Soletas find appealing is Hygienitech’s lack of chemical use, especially because the sanitation process is mostly used on beds, where dust mites enjoy warmth, humidity and food.
The Soletas have been Eden Prairie residents for nearly 20 years and Monica said the couple’s goal “is to help our community enjoy a better quality of life” by ridding mattresses of dust mites and other contaminants. Monica is in charge of business management, and Dave does the heavy lifting.
When the Soletas visit a home, Monica does a preliminary test on the mattress to check the concentration of dust mites. The sanitation method used is a modernized version of beating a mattress outside and letting the sun disinfect it. Dave uses a portable hand-held machine that is part vacuum and part UV-C light emitter on both sides of the mattress and pillows.
UV-C light is fatal to dust mites because it damages their DNA, Dave said. Using germicidal light to disinfect is not uncommon in hospitals, but this “green” method for mattress sanitation is more common in Europe and has only recently started to be used in the United States, he added.
Most homes have dust mites, but the eight-legged pests are only harmful to people who are allergic to them. They are particularly problematic for people with asthma. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that, in some regions, 90 percent of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites. Studies suggest 45 percent of young people with asthma are allergic to the dust mites.
The biggest challenges for the Soletas have been in getting the word out about their new business and educating people about the potential source of their occasional or chronic allergy symptoms.
Offering a service such as mattress sanitation can be tricky, because you don’t want to imply they’re slovenly, Dave said. The Soletas plan to reach out to hotels, nursing homes, and childcare providers besides providing their service solely to residences,
“We’re offering this right now as a preventative maintenance to businesses,” Monica said, who added that, to better reach the community, she translated their company brochures into Spanish.
For more information, go to dnmms.com.
Rebekah Ellis is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.