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How To Get Rid Of Dust

Apr 24, 2008
What is Dust?

Maybe we should define what those particles are. Because there are so many kinds of dust, let's confine ourselves to the stuff found in our homes. Dust is any kind of particulate floating in the air that measures less than 500 microns in diameter; in other words, teeny-tiny. It may shock you to know that, unless you are living on a windy plain next door to an unregulated kitty litter factory, most of that dust used to be part of your body or the body of any other living being inside your home. That's right. You are the dust, and the dust is you, to put a more Zen-like slant on it. Most dust is skin cells that have sloughed of you, you spouse, and your dog.

Dust Mites

Helping you to keep all that skin from piling up into unsightly heaps are our little insect friends, the dust mites. So small that they may be floating about as part of the dust, they have equally small appetites. They dine on those dead skin cells. But, since none of them have been potty trained, they leave behind them their own little unsightly heaps. The heaps are small, light, and float in the air, so are also dust. It's when you breathe these things in that you might get an allergic reaction. As this is something you want to avoid, having fresh air flowing throughout your home is one good defense against flying dust mite poop. Granted, this can be difficult in Duluth, Minnesota, in the middle of January. But if you've got allergies or, even worse, if someone in your house suffers from asthma, you need to do something to control the dust and the mites.

Dust Control

Start with the mites first, and begin at their favorite place, your bedroom. Encase your pillows and mattresses in sealed plastic. New mites can't get through it, and the ones trapped inside will die. Get rid of any wall-to-wall carpeting; the bugs get under it and breed. Replace it with a hard surface like linoleum or hardwood. Wash bedding weekly in super hot (130 degrees F.) water. For the entire house, use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters and keep the humidity low. Don't forget to vacuum the overstuffed furniture, too.

The Wise Geek has some good advice for dealing with dust, including this idea: dusters simply make dust airborne inside your home. A better way to deal with it is to remove it entirely. Buy several pairs of cheap cloth gloves at a garden supply store. Use the gloves to wipe off surfaces. When they get dirty, take them outside and bang them together to let the dirt fly off. Or change into another pair of gloves. Launder them when you're done. The gloves give you more flexibility in reaching less-accessible areas and more control over what you're doing. To make them even more effective, use them with a dryer sheet. This makes the surface static-free, so you will have longer breaks between dusting.

When cleaning, don't forget that all surfaces collect dust, and this includes your floors, especially where they are most inaccessible. Pull your refrigerator away from the wall occasionally and sweep and mop away the dust. Dust buildup can make your appliances less efficient and even damage them. This is especially true for your computer. Check its heat sink frequently for built-up dust. Under furniture is not such a big deal; it seldom gets moved, and the dust stays trapped under there.

Reader's Digest has several suggestions for minimizing dust problems:

* A major source of dust is found inside closets. Keep fabrics boxed and covered, and keep the floor clear to make vacuuming easier * Use a more efficient furnace filter * Take area rugs, slip covers, and sofa cushions outside and beat them * While you're running the vacuum, turn on the heating system fan to suck out the dust that's stirred up, but not picked up, by the vacuum cleaner

Consider installing an air purifier; these can cost $500 or more per room, so, if you have a serious allergy problem, you may want to start in the room where you spend the most time and go from there.
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