How do I rid myself of the mite infestation in my cupboard?
September 2, 2012 4:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I rid myself of the white mite infestation in my cupboard? I have cleaned everything multiple times and in multiple ways!

I recently moved into a student house, replacing a previous tenant. It turns out that during the summer break this tenant had left bread to rot unnoticed in the bread bin for what I must assume was several months.

From this bread bin emerged small white mites, that have invaded the kitchen, and while I have managed to fight off the worst of the invasion I still cannot rid myself of the ones that have taken up residence in my own cupboard, which was, sadly, closest to the breadbin.

These mites are about the size of a grain of fine salt, white and lay brown eggs about the same size of themselves.

I've been working at this for a week. All other cupboards were cleared simply by washing pans in hot soapy water.

For my cupboard, I have:

Washed everything I own in very hot (once boiling) soapy water. I have done this 4 times now. On the last time I unscrewed the handles from pans and soaked any handles that I couldn't get inside of in dilute bleach.

Brought all my pans to the boil on the stove, and heated my casserole dishes in the oven.

I have washed my cupboards in:
Hot soapy water

I have put salt down around nooks and crannies as I am told that mites like moisture.

I have thrown away ALL my dry food that was kept in the cupboard.

I have meticulously dried the cupboard after each wash and done the same to all my equipment.

Yet still, I return to my cupboard and find more of them crawling over my pans.

I really want to kill these things off, but I'm beginning to run out of ideas. Every day they return, and while I significantly reduced their population in the first scourge, further action doesn't seem to have significantly changed the amount that appear on my stuff each day.
posted by ElliotH to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
The infestation sounds like it's spread to the rest of the kitchen. You may need to persuade other residents to do a mass cleaning of the entire place. :(
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:46 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you live in a place where it gets cold during the winter, the problem might fix itself. Apparently they like a warm moist environment. If the temperature in your kitchen falls below 68° F it should probably be the end of them — not counting one more good cleaning to make sure you get rid of the eggs.

This page
and others discuss using benzyl benzoate on your shelf liners to keep them from coming back once you get rid of them.
posted by ubiquity at 6:09 PM on September 2, 2012

You could try getting yourself some food grade diatomaceous earth, which is non-toxic to people but kills most mites and insects. Boric acid, also non-toxic to humans, is also reputed to work against grain mites.
posted by BlueJae at 8:12 PM on September 2, 2012

Try scattering whole cloves around in the cupboards. I brought some weevils home from the grocery in a box of Bisquick and couldn't completely get rid of them no matter how hard I tried, but when I scattered whole cloves in all the cupboards and drawers, they vanished, apparently for good.

I tried bay leaves first, but they were useless.
posted by aryma at 12:09 AM on September 3, 2012

You might have some luck with borax baits. Make up a 5% solution of borax (two teaspoons per cup of hot water is about right), cook something the mites like to eat (brown rice?) in that, and then spread it out to dry somewhere you think they'll find it (not your pan cupboard).

Acute toxicity for borax is about the same as for table salt; if people or pets end up accidentally ingesting your bait once or twice it probably won't do them any harm at all. But it takes a lot longer to be excreted, so don't eat it habitually lest it build up to troublesome levels.
posted by flabdablet at 1:47 AM on September 3, 2012

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