Even in the most pristine homes, household dust is inevitable. These fine particles of matter are simply a byproduct of the lives we live, both inside and outside the home. Dust is most often comprised of dirt and dead skin cells, but can include everything from hair and shedding from pets to insect waste and even tiny pieces of plastic!
Aside from being unappealing to look at and a nuisance to clean, excessive dust can carry health risks to your family. As an air pollutant, it can irritate the eyes and airways, and even lead to asthma attacks or respiratory problems with prolonged exposure.
The good news is, while it’s not possible to completely get rid of dust in your home, you can drastically reduce it. With a few simple hacks, you can leave this pesky pollutant in the dust (pun intended!) and make your home healthier and cleaner.
High surfaces like bookshelves, the fridge, and high cabinets are difficult to reach and clean. This means that they can accumulate dust, and spread it elsewhere throughout the house. A great solution for this is to line those surfaces with sheets of newspaper. That way, the dust will accumulate there (instead of on your surface), and you can simply swap them out and recycle, every now and again.
Our beds are one of the biggest hotspots for dust. Not only do we shed dead skin when we’re in bed, but dust mites feed off these tiny flakes on our sheets. Not only is this unpleasant to think about, but dust mites are one of the biggest allergens for people with allergies. Exposure to dust mites can also trigger lifelong allergies in newborns.
So, how often should we be washing and changing our sheets? The answer is ‘far more often that you’d think!’ Most experts recommend at least once a week. When it comes to choosing sheets that ward off dust mites, organic cotton, wool, and microfibre with a thread count on the higher side.
When it comes to keeping your home dust-free, going over your surfaces with a dry, microfibre cloth is better than nothing. However, this popular method isn’t actually the most effective. In fact, while you’re likely to pick up some dust, it can also spread it elsewhere in the home. By dampening your cloth, you’ll be able to better grip the dust and remove it. Microfibre cloths are also the better option than cotton, as the microscopically tiny weave holds ten times more dirt per square inch. And, those feather dusters you see in old-school TV shows? Those are best avoided, because they simply pick up dust and displace it around the home.
Our air conditioning units are one of the biggest culprits of dust in the home. While most of these have filters, these can accumulate dust, debris and even mould if not cleaned out regularly. What’s worse is, this is circulated around your house when you have your air conditioner on! Not only does this reduce the air quality in your home, but it can actually cost you money — because clogged air conditioners are less efficient to run.
Most air conditioning companies recommend you take out and clean your filter every two weeks. However, if you’re not using it often, every month or so should do the trick. Cleaning it is usually as easy as popping open the plastic cover, taking out the filter, and giving it a good brush or shake. You can also vacuum it if you have a vacuum cleaner dusting brush. If it’s particularly grimy, you can also wash it in warm water and some detergent. Just make sure it’s completely dry when you put it back in.
We all like to crack a window every now and again to let the breeze in, especially on hot, summer days. But, leaving it open all the time — even if it’s just a smidgen — can be a one-way ticket to bringing dirt into the home. Consider closing your windows when not absolutely necessary. Flyscreens are also a good option for reducing some of the external dust. If you have any gaps in your window, a strong masking tap should help plug them up.
Another important rule of thumb to keep dirt outdoors, where it belongs? Leave your shoes at the front door. Even if you can’t physically see dirt or mud, wearing shoes indoors can trail these organisms throughout the house. Not only that, but wearing shoes indoors can also pick up invisible dust from indoors and spread it throughout the home. You can encourage family members and visitors to kick off their shoes by placing a shoe container at the front door, or a floor mat with a friendly reminder.
Now, if you’re simply looking for a few quick hacks to reduce dust in the home, pulling up your carpets might not be the most realistic solution. But, if you’re looking to move or renovate, it’s useful to keep in mind that homes with carpets accumulate far more dust.
A number of studies have shown that homes with carpets have significantly more dust and allergens than those without it — and as a result, worse air quality. This is because soft, woven surfaces collect dust more easily, are harder to spot and typically get cleaned less often than floorboards. If you’re not able to ditch your carpet, consider getting it steam cleaned every few months.
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Regularly vacuuming at the home is one of the best ways to keep dust at bay. It’s estimated that a thorough vacuum can collect up to 99% of dust in an area. However, it’s important to note that not all vacuum cleaners are created equal! You’re going to want to opt for one with a HEPA filter. Short for High-efficiency Particulate Air, vacuums with a HEPA filter trap invisible dust, rather than releasing it back into the air. While each country has its own standards, generally vacuums have to trap at least 99.97% of emissions to be considered HEPA-friendly. That’s compared to 96% in normal models — but that 3% makes a huge difference when you have allergies.
Typically, vacuums with a HEPA filter are more expensive – but, it’s well worth the investment if you want to say goodbye to dust in the home. All HEPA vacuum cleaners have a serial number attached to them and will state that the test results at 0.3 microns are 99.97 percent or above. However, you can always ask a shop assistant or Google the particular model if you’re not sure.
While vacuum cleaners are certainly helpful, there’s another gadget that will be your best friend when it comes to reducing dust in the home. When dust enters or accumulates in the home, the particles float around until they settle on a surface. A good air purifier traps those particles before they have a chance to settle! Not only does this keep your home cleaner, but it means the air you’re breathing in the home is fresher. This can be a game-changer if you’re prone to congestion or allergies.
The same rule of thumb applies to your air purifier as with your vacuum or air conditioner. Be sure to opt for one with a HEPA filter, and clean it out as often as you can.
The more ‘stuff’ you have in your home, the more surfaces dust has a chance to settle on, and the harder it is to clean. So, to help keep your life simple, consider ditching the clutter! By removing unnecessary ornaments and trinkets off your shelves, it will make it much easier to give it a quick once-over with a cloth regularly. Because, let’s be honest — nobody wants to spend time moving all their belongings on and off the shelf!
The added bonus is, decluttering always breaths new life into a space and makes it feel fresher, cleaner and tidier.
While dust is an unfortunate reality in the home, that doesn’t mean it has to affect your quality of life. By following these 10 simple tips, you can bust the dust in your home and breathe a little easier.
Words by Emma Norris
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