It’s the gift that keeps on giving in every home. And no matter how often you clean, how good your cleaning tools are and how hard you work, it’s always there. It might hide for a while, but it always comes back with a vengeance.
This perpetual cycle of cat and mouse with dust is something the human race has struggled with since the first roofed structure was built. And while we’ve become a lot better at removing it, we still haven’t won the war on dust.
But there are ways to reduce the impact it has on our lives — we just need to understand it a bit more.
It’s everywhere in our lives, but have you ever wondered what dust actually is?
In truth, dust isn’t a substance in its own right — it’s made from a vast array of particles. And depending where you are, those particles can come from a number of sources.
Although you might have heard that dust is predominantly dead skin, that’s not true. Yes, skin is often present, but it’s always just one of a myriad of pretty nasty ingredients.
You might not know that there are two different types of dust: outdoor and indoor. So, while you might think opening your windows will keep dust to a minimum, it could make the situation worse.
The outdoor variety consists of several different particles, including pollen, insect parts, hair follicles from wildlife soil, vehicle waste and countless other undesirable substances. When combined, these particles can create a pretty toxic soup — which, when inhaled, can cause some serious respiratory problems for allergy sufferers and people with pre-existing conditions.
This is the dust you probably battle with every day of your life. It’s made of different things; your home has its own unique recipe that probably isn’t replicated exactly anywhere else. It contains substances such as paper fibres, fabric fibres, human skin cells, hair, food particles, dander and mite parts.
Feeling nauseous yet? Don’t worry unduly. We’re surrounded by dust from the moment we’re born, and most of us are lucky enough to have a high tolerance for it. But for some people, the consequences of living around high levels of the stuff can be serious.
What are the health implications of too much dust?
Breathing in dust can give absolutely anyone acute breathing problems. Dust is also a breeding ground for insects, bacteria and various allergens, which all cause different health problems — which are exacerbated by pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The classic symptoms of dust-related allergies include sneezing, skin irritations, itchy or teary eyes, coughing and a runny nose. However, more serious reactions include difficulty breathing, chest pains, swelling around the eyes and a tightening of the throat — all symptoms of anaphylaxis.
How do I get rid of dust?
You can’t — it’s that simple.
But what you CAN do is reduce it to minimal levels. The most obvious thing you can do is to clean and polish regularly. But you need to be smart about your cleaning. For example, brushing dust off a table with a feather duster simply disperses it into the air. “Collect” dust with a wipe or a microfibre cloth — don’t simply sweep it away and let it settle somewhere else.
But if you really want to make an impact, you need to spend the majority of your time on your home’s fabrics. Curtains, clothes, carpets and upholstery need to be vacuumed and cleaned regularly. Use all the appropriate tools and extensions to reach every square inch, and make sure you have a vacuum cleaner that is designed to trap and hold 99.9 percent of known allergens.
Dust is being created all of the time. You can’t stop this process, but there are a few ways to slow it down. For example, remove any rugs and mats that aren’t completely necessary; keep clutter to a minimum; install a dehumidifier in rooms where dust is a major problem; and limit your pets’ access to just two or three rooms in your home.
Note: Opening windows doesn’t get rid of dust — it simply allows it to be blown around. Also, outside dust can enter your home. Opening windows is, however, a good way of introducing fresh air in your home, which can alleviate breathing difficulties.
Stop trying to eradicate dust in your home — it’s impossible. Instead, take a common-sense approach to it, and you should be able to keep dust to a minimum.