There is no simple way to discuss dust. It is one of those things which makes even the toughest of individuals just a bit squeamish. But it’s important to understand what’s lurking inside your home even in a microscopic level, especially if you’re one of every five individuals who suffer from allergies. In any case, this info might finally get you dusting and vacuuming on a regular basis.
“House dust is a combination of substances, some possibly allergenic — distinct fibers; dander from cats, dogs and other animals; dust mites and bacteria; mould and fungus spores; and pollen,” says microbiologist Karen Hall, who works at Dyson, the company known for its high-powered cylindrical vacuums.
We hear about dust mites all of the time, but since we can’t see them, most of us don’t actually give them too much thought. Out of sight out of mind, right? Well, perhaps knowing that dust mites are a part of the arachnid family, like spiders, and reside on your mattresses and pillows in such mass numbers that they really add weight to these things, should be enough to keep them in your mind for a very long time.
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I hate to be the one to break this to you, however when someone says they are allergic to dust mites, technically that’s not true. It is really their stool that folks are allergic to. “It is not the dust mites themselves, it’s their nasty temptations that cause an allergic response,” Hall says. “They contain highly allergenic proteins which cause asthma or other allergic problems.”
Allergist James Sublett, who’s chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Indoor Environment Committee, says colonies of dust mites and their excrement are concentrated in bedding and bedrooms, in addition to heavily upholstered furniture. “You can have a lot more dust absorbed in those configurations, which then gets stirred up into the air with activity,” Sublett says.
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That means that modernists might get an advantage over dust. Flat, solid surfaces, especially flooring, and slick leather upholstery tend to be more ideal for maintaining dust. A easy wipe-down manages a lot of settled dust. If anything, Sublett recommends eliminating wall-to-wall carpets in bedrooms.
Here are more ways to keep dust in check:
Get a dust-tracking mat. Search for something that says “anti-microbial.” This will help eliminate some of the awful stuff you track in on your shoes. The ideal solution, however, is to remove your shoes prior to entering the home. “Otherwise you will be earning nasty chemicals, pollen, dirt and dust directly into your home,” says Hall.
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Place small items in a plastic bag and freeze them. This is very good for things like children’s toys. You will want to freeze them for about two days, says Hall, then let them thaw naturally. This will kill off all of the dust mites.
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Keep pets out of the sack. Sorry, but it’s ideal to keep animals from your bedroom and especially off your bed. Cats and dogs have a tendency to track in lots of dander and dust from the outdoors and shed it around your house. You might wish to also think about vacuuming your puppy often with special appliances like the Dyson Groom tool.
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Wash your pillows. People remember to scrub pillow cases, but the pillow itself often gets neglected. Ever notice the way your pillow appears to get heavier? Congratulations, you’re harboring a colony of dust mites and their feces. Wash them every six to 12 months or substitute them.
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Here is a shocker: Do not make your bed. That is right, Hall recommends leaving the blankets off to allow the mattress cool. This can protect against dust mites from breeding so quickly.
Safeguard your mattress. You will want to frequently vacuum your mattress to pick up skin tissues and dust mite feces. You might also consider encasing your mattress and pillows. Be certain to acquire a fine woven encasement with a sealed zipper, Sublett says.
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Get all the nooks and crannies. “It’s important to find the areas you don’t see as well — high shelving, air vents and mattresses,” Hall says. Also, vacuum intensively around beds and under beds when possible, since dust mites can be bothered and drop to the ground as covers are thrown back. “And don’t forget to vacuum under the sofa; the perfect hiding spot for dust mites,” Hall says.
Dust and vacuum cleaner one or two times a week. You will not ever be able to do away with all of the dust, Sublett says, and dusting and vacuuming kicks up some dust anyway, so doing these tasks one or two times each week is sufficient. Also, invest in a dust mask, like an N95 NIOSH, and that means you’re not breathing in most of the disturbed dust. (It takes just two hours for dust to settle, Sublett says.)
Get a vacuum cleaner that’s asthma and allergies and one with a HEPA air filter. A central vacuum system, like the one shown here, ought to be considered. They’re designed to deposit the vacuumed debris outside the living space, usually in containers in the garage or basement.
Keep out humidity. Humidity plays a major part in dust mite proliferation and other potential dust allergens like mold. Sublett urges you try and keep the humidity below 50 percent. Installing a dehumidifier might be perfect for many people.
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Wash bedding weekly. This is a given. It does not have to be super hot, either. A warm water cycle will kill mature dust mites.
Also, purifying the air inside your home is among the greatest strategies to reduce dust buildup.
More: Guide to Indoor Air Purifiers