Dust is a pesky household nuisance that never seems to go away. No matter how often you clean, it reappears on shelves, side tables, lamps, under furniture, and on ceiling fans. And while you might not give dust a second thought beyond when you’re cleaning it up, it’s vital to understand what exactly dust is, how it can be harmful to your health, and the best ways to get it under control.
Dust is Everywhere, All Around Us
Dust is mainly made up of tracked-in soil, dust mites, pollen, mold spores, shed skin cells, pet dander, dead insect particles, tiny plastic particles, crumbs, hair, lint, and sometimes even a cocktail of chemicals and heavy metals. The composition and amount of dust you have in your home depends on several factors, including where you live, the age of your home, how many people and animals you have living in your home, the time of year, your cooking habits, and even how you clean.
In cities, household dust is often extra sooty from car exhaust and other sources of air pollution. Homes with furry and feathered pets contain more hair and pet dander: small pieces of hair, skin, or feathers that flake off animals. Generally, about 60% of everyday household dust comes from soil tracked inside on the bottoms of shoes or pets’ paws or as airborne particles that have wafted through doors, windows, and other openings. The remaining 40% is an assortment of particles that originate from inside the home, including dead skin cells, pet fur, insect particles, carpet fibers, and kitchen grease.
Dust Can Impact Your Health
The average home collects 40 pounds of dust every year. Not only can all of this dust make your home look and feel dirty, but it can also have a significant impact on your health. The adverse reactions for people with dust allergies are mostly in line with the common cold, with symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes. But being exposed to dusty environments regularly can also worsen respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD, and emphysema. In rare cases, dust can contain ultrafine microscopic solids and liquid droplets – or particulate matter (PM) – that are small enough to get deep into the lungs and cause a long list of adverse health effects, including irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms.
Not to mention, dust also harbors the most common indoor allergen: dust mites. These microscopic insects dine on the shed skin cells we leave behind and trigger allergic reactions and asthma symptoms for at least 10% of the population. You may have a dust mite allergy and not even know it. If you suffer from year-round allergies and are losing sleep as a result, it’s worth a trip to your doctor or allergist to determine whether or not you’re allergic to dust mites.
While it’s scientifically impossible to have an entirely dust-free home, you can significantly reduce the level of dust inside your home and reduce allergens as a result. Follow these golden rules of dusting to make your cleaning routine easier and more efficient:
Golden Rule #1: Use the Best Dusting Tools & Supplies
With the right dusting tools and supplies, you can clean smarter – not harder. Here are the best dusting tools and supplies to add to your dust-busting tool belt:
Vacuums with built-in HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters trap dust and allergens as you clean rather than spewing them back into the air. Be sure to look for a HEPA vacuum that includes various attachments, including an upholstery attachment for optimal cleaning.
Feather and wool dusters are pretty to look at and can be reused for many years, but they are also notorious for scattering dust. And the absolute worst product for dusting? Paper towels. They’re expensive, cannot be reused, some brands can scratch surfaces, and they all leave lint behind. On the other hand, most microfiber cloths are eco-friendly, affordable, and excel in picking up dust particles – rather than spreading them around or causing them to go airborne like traditional dusting methods. Toss your microfiber cloths into the washer once you’ve dusted to clean them, and use them time and time again.
Add Vital Oxide to your cleaning regimen for extra dust-busting power. You can either spray it directly onto surfaces after cleaning to neutralize dust mite allergens or spray it onto a microfiber cloth and wipe to clean and eliminate allergens. Vital Oxide can also be used in a carpet steam cleaner or a hot water extraction unit to deep clean carpets. Vital Oxide has the unique ability to reduce allergen levels in most common household triggers significantly, dust mite allergens included. Bonus: It also neutralizes other common allergens like pet dander and molds.
Our allergist and dermatologist recommended Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent keeps household washables fresh, clean, and allergen-free.
Use our Anti-Allergen Solution to eliminate allergens on bedding, mattresses, pillows, pet beds, carpets, rugs, drapes, chairs, sofas, upholstered furniture, and more. This 100% biodegradable, plant- and mineral-based solution is colorless, odorless, stain-free, and safe for use on water-washable fabrics and surfaces to eliminate allergens from dust mites as well as pet dander. The Anti-Allergen Solution can also be used in hot water vacuums and washing machines.
Golden Rule #2: Clean Strategically
Make this your new dusting mantra: clean high before you clean low. By starting at the top and working your way down, you’ll avoid having dust resettle on a freshly cleaned area. After you’ve dusted, use your HEPA vacuum to capture all the dust particles that have fallen to the floor.
Golden Rule #3: Keep a Dusting Schedule
To stay on top of dust, aim to dust every room in your home at least once a week. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to wipe every surface in your home in one day. Instead, come up with a cleaning schedule that works for you. For instance, try spending 10 to 15 minutes dusting and vacuuming one or two rooms each day. This will help to prevent heavy buildup of dust and improve your overall indoor air quality.
Golden Rule #4: Don’t Neglect Hard-to-Reach Places
A few household cleaning tasks are universally dreaded: removing dust from ceiling fans, removing dust from under beds and furniture, and removing dust from behind appliances, baseboards, and tops of cabinets… You get the idea. However, it’s essential to keep the dust-load down in every area of your home, even in these hard-to-reach places.
Removing a thick layer of dust from a neglected area – like behind your fridge (take a peek, if you dare!) – can seem beyond daunting. Rather than going through a roll of paper towels or a stack of microfiber cloths, start by vacuuming the dusty area using a HEPA vacuum with an upholstery brush attachment. Work slowly, keeping the brush just above the dust. Make two to three passes over the site, and then follow up with a microfiber cloth dampened with Vital Oxide to clean and trap the tiny particles left behind. Remember, attempting to clean a surface with a heavy layer of dust will only push more particles into the air during the removal process, so the goal should be to avoid accumulation in the first place.
P.S. Don’t forget to dust your houseplants regularly! Simply use a clean microfiber cloth dampened with water to wipe leaves gently, or pop your plants into your shower to remove dust buildup.
Golden Rule #5: Don’t Forget to Dust Upholstered Furniture
Remember to include furniture and upholstery each time you vacuum to keep the dust load down. After thoroughly vacuuming, spray your furniture and upholstery with an Anti-Allergen Solution to neutralize allergens from dust mites and pet dander.
Golden Rule #6: Wash Bedding & Blankets
During your cleaning and dust-busting regimen, be sure to regularly wash and change all the bedding, linens, towels, and washable rugs with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent. This will freshen up your linens and remove accumulated dust, as well as the dust mites that are hanging out in it.