It’s the gift that keeps on giving. No matter how well you clean your home — and how often — there’s always more dust lurking… just waiting to make an appearance.
This ubiquitous substance causes householders around the world untold grief. Not only does it look terrible, it poses a serious hazard to health. It’s therefore essential that we understand where it comes from, how it can be prevented and how to remove it effectively.
Despite dust being a permanent problem in all our lives, many people don’t know where it comes from — or how dangerous it can be to people with underlying health problems. To help you in your own fight against household dust, we’ve put together some must-know facts.
What is in household dust?
According to Science Focus, dust isn’t all human skin — contrary to popular belief. And when you think about it, that makes sense. After all, the majority of human skin in the home ends up down a plughole. It might surprise you to know that two thirds of domestic dust is brought in from outside… on shoes, clothes and our bodies. Pollen and soot feature prominently.
The final third is comprised of several different substances. And depending on the variables in your home, they can be present in wildly different ratios. For example, if you have a dog, dander will feature prominently in your dust. Other nastiness present can include insect carcasses, insect waste, foodstuffs (such as flour), pollutants and dirt. And while there can be skin present, it’s often there in very small quantities.
What is outside dust?
There’s dust in the atmosphere outside all the time — you can’t avoid it. It lands on you, your clothes and your shoes, and you bring it indoors with you. If you leave windows open, it floats into your home too. It then combines with the various substances already in your home to create that furry layer of evil we all hate so much.
Local environmental conditions dictate how much dust is in the air outside your home. For example, if you live close to a busy road or a construction site, there’s bound to be a relatively large amount of dust in the air.
How does dust affect our health?
For most people, dust doesn’t pose a serious health risk. But whether you know it or not, the chances are your general health has already been affected by dust to some degree. For example, a simple sneeze at home is often the result of airborne dust. Itchy eyes, a rash or a cough can all be the result of dust.
But for some people, dust can exacerbate underlying health issues and cause serious problems. For example, dust can bring on asthma attacks. If you suffer from this chronic respiratory ailment, just a little dust can bring on an attack.
High levels of dust in the home can also exacerbate the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and emphysema. There is also evidence to suggest exposure to high levels of dust over an extended period can contribute to ailments related to both the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. And like most health issues, young children and the elderly are most at risk.
How to prevent dust
It’s important to accept that dust is part and parcel of everyday life in the home. No matter what precautions you take, you’ll never stop it from settling on furniture, fixtures and fittings. But there are ways to minimise it — and reduce the impact it has on the health of people in your home.
Change bedding regularly
Dust is difficult to remove from bedding. So, everytime you get into bed, you inadvertently throw up a huge amount of it into the air around you. You should be able to reduce the dust in your home by washing your bedding more regularly. It’s also a good idea to wash your pillows regularly too.
If there are people in your home with serious dust allergies, it’s probably best to remove all the carpets in your home. Dust lodges itself deep within the pile, and can be very difficult to remove. Consider switching to real wood, tile or vinyl wherever possible.
Manage your wardrobes
Dust sticks to clothes readily, so don’t needlessly store clothes that never get used. Pack away non-seasonal clothes in sealed containers, or wrap them in clingfilm until they’re needed. The clothes you keep in your wardrobe should also be neatly folded, and stored in protective wrapping if possible.
Keep clutter to a minimum
Dust can accumulate on anything, including everyday inanimate objects such as CD covers, toys, magazines and electrical gadgets. Keep all of these items stored away at all times. And declutter your home once a week. Not only does this give dust fewer surfaces to land on, it makes cleaning that much easier.
Take it outside
Try to beat the dust out of fabrics such as mats, rugs, throws and cushions once a week. And do it outside, otherwise you’re simply redistributing household dust.
Use an air purifier
If there are people with serious health issues in your home, you might need to invest in an air purifier. However, this shouldn’t be in place of regular cleaning and prevention measures.
How to remove dust
Regular cleaning is essential — and an inescapable part of dust management. But you also need to ensure that your cleaning methods are effective. After all, you don’t want to simply move dust around your home. You have to remove it. Here are a few dust management tips to follow.
Invest in a powerful vacuum cleaner
Buy the best vacuum cleaner for dust removal. In your home, this might mean something with a lot of accessories. Or perhaps something with a removable, handheld unit. Look for a cleaner with a HEPA filter, or a similar type of anti-allergen technology.
Collect dust, don’t brush it away
Don’t use a feather duster in your home. Unless you’re very careful with it, all you’re doing is moving dust from one place to the next. Dust precisely and deliberately with a microfibre cloth. Trap the dust particles in the cloth — and take them straight outside.
Top tip: Tumble dryer sheets are perfect for scooping up dust without sending it flying into the air.
Take it from the top
Dust follows the laws of gravity… it always travels downwards. When cleaning a room, start from the top and work your way down. The last job in any space should be vacuuming the floor.
Don’t forget to dust walls
When was the last time you dusted your walls? While this won’t be a regular job, it’s something you should do a few times a year. Simply use a microfibre dusting cloth, which you can attach to a sweeping brush for reaching high areas. Alternatively, use the long attachment on your vacuum cleaner. And while you’re at it, don’t forget your ceiling lights, mouldings, coving and door frames.
Dust skirting carefully
A lot of dust ends up on skirting. And every time someone walks past, the dust can get “swooshed” up into the air. Use a slightly dampened cloth to remove dust from your skirting boards once a week.
Whether you have real or fake plants in your home, they all need dusting regularly. For the fake variety, use the most appropriate tool on your vacuum cleaner. You might need to gently wipe the individual leaves and stems of your real plants.
A couple of dusting hacks
If you need to dust but don’t have a microfibre cloth at your disposal, there are a couple of options. For example, an old slice of bread makes a fantastic makeshift duster. Another natural duster is a paper coffee filter, which generates dust-attracting static.
You can never rid your home of dust, so the job of removing it is a perpetual one. However, by staying on top of the situation, you can drastically reduce its impact — on both your home and the people living in it.