Learn what causes these pesky particles to accumulate all over the place and what steps you can take to defeat the dust.
I pride myself on keeping my house clean, but I can’t seem to get a grip on the dust situation. It seems like a coating of dust appears on my furniture just hours after I was washed.
Am I going to do something wrong? Why is my house so dirty, huh?
Take your heart—you’re not alone in the fight for a dust-free house. The layer of dust that settles on your furniture can be a combination of many things: tiny dirt particles, fibers, pollen, pet dander (bits of fur and skin) and skin flakes.
Countless dust particles are in the air your family is breathing, in addition to the never-ending fight against the objects that collect on surfaces. And dust is not only unsightly: someone who is allergic to it is likely to suffer from a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
So it’s a good idea to find out where all the dust comes from and take action to fix the problem.
Dust is increased by cheap and dirty HVAC filters.
The wide flat air filters mounted behind the return air vents of your home (or on the HVAC unit itself) are the first dust protection lines. Cheap filters have larger holes that allow more dust from heating and cooling vents to move through and reenter your house.
Air filters are ranked on a scale from one to 16 by their minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), with higher numbers indicating more effective filters. When choosing air filters for HVAC, look for a MERV ranking of at least five to eight. Lower ratings are less effective and higher ratings, like those used in hospitals, are reserved for industrial filters.
Even a high-quality filter with a decent MERV value will get filled with dust, and the sooner the filters will clog and be ineffective against dust, the more you use your HVAC machine. At least every three months, or when they appear saturated, replace air filters.
Dust lurks on the rugs.
A significant contributor to dust in the home may be the dirt from shoes and pet paws and pollutants in the air that settle onto carpet fibers. As long as you do not recirculate any dust back into the living space while vacuuming, regular vacuuming (daily or every other day) will assist.
When you use a vacuum with an inefficient device for dust-trapping, that’s likely to happen. Consider converting to a higher-quality model with a filter of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA), engineered to absorb 99% of dust and debris.
Encourage family members to take off their shoes at the door to help minimize carpet-based dust, and then stow them in an entrance cabby or move them directly to the appropriate closet.
Dust collectors are on upholsters and rugs.
Dust accumulates from fabrics and textiles, and the simple act of opening the curtains or sitting on the sofa will release the dust into the room. Use the attachments of your vacuum to vacuum upholstered furniture and once a week, draperies.
Laundering or dry cleaning of the rugs once a year would also help to minimize dust. Alternately, swap out leather or wood that will not accumulate dust from your fabric-covered furniture.
Your pet could be responsible in part for the dusty condition.
Cats and dogs, including short haired ones, constantly shed both fur and skin flakes. The combination, called pet dander, can add to the dust level of a house especially if you have more than one furry friend.
At least once a week, commit to brushing your pets to minimize loose hair or getting them professionally groomed. When you have long-haired cats and dogs, regular vacuuming can help as well.
Doors and windows that are leaky allow dust in.
Not only are gaps around windows and doors a leading cause of energy loss, but any time the wind blows, outside dust and pollen can also reach the home. Living along a dirt or gravel road can build a condition that is even worse.
Fortunately, the solution is straightforward: add caulk to window holes and cover worn weather-stripping around doors to avoid blowing dust.
Maybe you need your dusting technique to be improved.
No matter how much you dust, you can unintentionally shift dust around while remove it if you don’t do it right. Assure that the cloth or duster you are using is made of microfibre, which helps to contain much of dust so that less of it oxygenates; make sure to dampen it slightly if you prefer to use a towel, which will also help to dust.
Always dust from top to bottom, which means higher surfaces, and note that dust may also stick to vertical surfaces, so wipe down walls once a month with a damp cloth.
There is no definite response as to which comes first, dusting or vacuuming. Some cleaning professionals claim top to bottom dirt and then vacuum (with HEPA filter) to banish in the process all dust that gathers on the surface.
Others insist that you’re better off vacuuming first as vacuuming will stir up dust (especially if your vacuum is not HEPA-equipped). We’re talking about going both directions and seeing what works best for you.
There may be dust entering through leaky ducts.
HVAC air ducts run through floors, walls, attics and crawl spaces, and dust can be drawn into the ducts and then blown into your living space if there are gaps in the ducts or unsealed spots where two pieces of ductwork interconnect. If you find more dust settling after the furnace or air conditioner is off the problem may be a leaky duct. If the previous remedies have not reduced the amount of dust, it might be time to call an HVAC technician who can run a duct total pressure test to determine if it is leaking and if appropriate, to fix the leaks.
For the cleanest indoor air, invest in an air purifier.
While the previous methods will all help reduce the amount of dust in your home, you can further reduce it by using an air purifier if airborne dust is still a concern. Air purifiers come with a range of filters which are designed to trap airborne dust and other particles, including carbon and HEPA filters.