House dust mite allergy and down and feather-filled bedding?
Much ado about nothing

People who are allergic to house dust do not need to renounce the use of down and feather-filled bedding. Links between the occurrence of allergic reactions to house dust mites and the use of feather and down-filled bedding frequently creep out of the woodwork. Many doctors and textile experts advise patients at risk of allergies, and even customers in general, to replace such bedding with other filling materials.

However, new scientific results completely contradict this prejudice against down and feather bedding, with even the opposite emerging to be true.

Is there any truth in the rumours?
Head of the Institute of Industrial Anthropology at the University of Kiel, Prof. Hans Jürgens, got to grips with the matter and carried out a thorough examination of the problem. The results not only confirm that house dust mite allergy sufferers can indeed sleep in down and feather beddings, but also that this type of bedding is actually recommended.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating
After the laboratory tests revealed no correlation between down and feather bedding and the presence of house dust mites, Prof. Jürgens carried out a representative study using used duvets from a selection of households. In all cases, it was proven that there were practically no mites in the bedding.

The approach
It is not the house dust mite itself that triggers the allergy, but rather its excrement - and only if it is present in very large quantities. The presence of a small number of mites is not decisive in terms of allergies. House dust mites can be found in every household, since they thrive in the same ecological conditions as humans. This is why it is extremely difficult to completely eradicate them without losing much of the quality of living we are used to. However, since only highly elevated numbers of mites are harmful to house dust mite allergy sufferers, the first study concentrated on establishing the conditions in which mass reproduction of mites occurs.

Food source
House dust mites primarily feed off human and pet skin flakes. Every day, humans shed approx. 0.5 to 1 gram of skin, and as little as 0.25 grams is enough to feed several thousand mites for many months. The studies revealed that feathers and down were not on the house dust mites' menu. Conclusion: mites do not feed on down and feathers, but rather on humans themselves.

Textile barriers
Interestingly, the study showed that house dust mites are too large to enter the tickings of down and feather bedding. These tickings enable optimal air exchange and climate regulation, but are so tightly woven that the fine down cannot pass through the fabric. Specialists call this quality 'down-proof'. In any case, there is no reason for the house dust mites to penetrate the ticking to eat the fathers, and feather and down-proof tickings provide an additional barrier that prevents them from migrating inside the bedding.

Conclusion: A clear 'yes' to feathers and down
Even those who suffer from house dust mite allergy can enjoy the advantages and comfort of down and feather bedding with full peace of mind. As the results of the study show, there are two reasons why down and feather bedding are virtually mite-free. On the one hand, this is because mites primarily feed on shed skin and not feathers or down, meaning that the mites have no motivation to penetrate into the ticking. On the other hand, the down-proof ticking acts as a textile barrier for the mites.

For more studies, please see the overview at

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