I’ll be honest with you, I HATE dusting. I know it’s bad when my five year old mentions we should probably dust that thick later off of our dark-toned dresser.
But, it’s not just an annoyance or a trivial problem within our homes. Dust is a component of poor indoor air quality. Have you ever stopped to think what is IN the dust bunny under your bed? Or what that layer of thick gray dust is housing on top of your woodwork? Mostly we just hear people say it’s skin cells (for the record, this is still gross, right?).
But unfortunately, it’s often time even more. Studies have shown traces of cleaning chemicals, pesticides, bacteria and dustimes in the dust within living spaces.
WHY DUST IS HARMFUL
Dust Made Up of Indoor Chemicals
Veena Singla, at NRDC.org published an incredibly in-depth look at exactly what chemicals are found within the dust in our homes. She lists out flame retardants (from furniture), phthalates (from soft plastics and vinyls), PFCs (from stain repellents in carpets) and Environmental Phenols (from cleaning products) just to name a few.
These chemicals have been labeled as carcinogenic, endocrine and hormone disruptors as well as creating reproductive problems. And to go back, these are just the chemicals coming from within our homes. I haven’t even shared the outdoor bacteria, pesticides and chemicals that make up the majority of the dust in our homes.
Bacteria & Pesticides Tracked Indoors
Knowing that most dirt and bacteria come in on shoes means that this problem can be largely corrected by leaving shoes in a foyer or outdoors. A no-shoe policy can minimize the amount of bacteria that enters your home.
The bacteria entering the home from outdoors includes Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species as well as fungal strains of microbes as stated by the BMC Microbiology 2008 Study.
KIDS ARE THE HIGHEST RISK GROUP
Children who are exposed to higher levels of dust are also at a higher risk for developing asthma and eczema. Dustmites are the large contributing factor when it comes to these problems. A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology breaks down the correlation between the increased cases of childhood eczema and dustmites found indoors.
Childhood Asthma is also on the rise due to many contributing factors. But one factor that can be more controlled than others is by removing the exposure to dustmites within homes. Immunological Reviews published a 2011 study showing early-onset asthma is often linked to an allergic response from dustimtes.
HouseDustMite.com shares a vast array of scientific studies on their website that link dustmites and dust to a variety of health concerns ranging from allergies to asthma. They also have some great resources for minimizing the exposure in your own house and how schools are at risk too.
HABITS TO HELP
No Shoes: Removing shoes at the door and creating a no-shoe policy in your own home can help reduce the amount of dust and dirt comes into your house in the first place. Utilizing a rug to help catch the particles before they get tracked around your home is another great idea. *Check out my Pinterest Boards for some great ideas*
Pets: Wipe off your fur baby’s paws when you come inside and you’ll keep a lot of bacteria and pesticides from being tracked around the house. Keep an old hand towel near the door so you can easily wipe off paws.
Humidity: Dustmites thrive in humid environments. If a home is around 35%-40% humidity, dustmites will not be able to reproduce, therefore eliminating many of them from your home. You can check your indoor humidity with a simple hygrometer or if you have a smart thermostat such as the Nest, you can check on your app.
If you’re finding you need to reduce your indoor humidity, check out my blog post about Indoor Air Quality and scroll down to “Reduce Moisture Inside”.
Wet Mop: If you have hardwood floors or hard surface floors, a wet mop like Rubbermaid’s Reveal Spray Mop (which you can fill with any solution you wish) will help remove the dust from corners and entry ways. By switiching from dry mopping to wet mopping you ensure you are picking up and removing more of the dust as opposed to pushing it around and creating dust to enter the air.
Regular Dusting: As much as it pains me to say it, regular dusting is the best way to minimize the dust around most homes. Dust is inevitable, so there is some element of cleaning involved. There is a better way to dust, however, which can not only remove more dust, but prevent dust from landing on the wooden surfaces of your home.
By using a natural dusting spray and a microfiber cloth, you can avoid moving dust around and moving it into the air. A natural dusting spray also uses oil to help deter dust from certain surfaces.
What You Will Need
Furnace Filters: Replacing the filters within furnace systems and whole house fans is a great way to make sure dust isn’t getting spread throughout your home. I tell my customers to purchase a large box of filters and keep them near the furnace. This way they’re more likely to replace the filters more frequently. NordicPure filters get an A+ in my book for top notch furnace filters.
Duct Cleaning: If you have pets, this routine maintenance is a MUST. Getting your vents cleaned every other year will help keep dust at bay within your home. If you’re moving into a new home, I always recommend you get the ductwork cleaned out before moving your family in. This is especially true if anyone in your family has allergies or asthma.