Sunday, June 29, 2014

Enemy, thy name is dust!

It's a fact of life, you see it everywhere... It's been around since the beginning of time... and a part of you is turning into it right this very minute... That's right - Dust!

Household dust is made up of many things - a huge part of dust is made up of skin cells that are constantly flaking off & falling to the ground. It also contains fabric fibers from clothes, carpets, furniture - any fabric that is regularly moved or touched (dust bunnies are pretty much just dirty balls of fabric fibers). Another component is actually dirt - made up of finely ground leaf parts, seed pod remnants, mold spores and other plant materials - when examined under a microscope, it would not be at all unusual to spot ant heads or other insect body parts.... eeewww! Best of all, living, frolicking in and contributing to the dust are dust mites (and their feces). They're more than just plain creepy - they're just plain harmful. Researchers believe that they may account for 30% of allergic discomforts!

So, dust happens and if it seems like your home is dustier now than it was say, even ten years ago, you're not imagining things. Homes are getting more and more energy efficient making them dust traps to collect and hold dust. We're bringing an ever increasing number of electronics into our homes and all the heat and electricity is like a virtual dust magnet. Add to all of this the fact that researchers have determined that the flame retardant (PBDE) that is found in electronics and furniture is making it's way out of those products and attaching itself to our dust - thereby exposing us to these chemicals. We need to get rid of all that dust!!

So, what can we do? Well, yes, dusting is the best way, but not the way our mothers used to do it. Arm yourself with a microfiber cloth or duster that will trap and hold dust - not an old sock or t-shirt that will just push the dust around. Make use of your vacuum cleaner's attachments (and be sure not to let your bag get much more than half full to maintain good suction). Start dusting from the top of the room and work you way down finally ending with a good vacuuming of the floor.

There are other things we can do to help keep dust at bay:

Replace carpets with hard floors

Trade fabric furniture for leather or vinyl

Encase mattresses and pillows in allergen-free covers

Make sure your home is well ventilated

Replace furnace & air conditioning filters regularly

Be sure to clean the lint trap in your clothes dryer (so lint isn't just blowing back into the house)

Vacuum often (twice weekly is good, three times if you have indoor pets)

Landscape (be sure there are no large patches of open dirt in your yard to blow indoors)

Now we all know that not only is dust just plain ugly (especially when your kids write their names in it!) but it can also make you sick. Dust is made up of much, much more than just dirt from outside and our homes are dustier now than they were ten or twenty years ago. So go ahead, don those dust masks and tackle this household invader! After all, "from dust you come and to dust you shall return" - but that doesn't mean that you need to leave yourself lying all around the house!

Helpful Hint: When dusting your ceiling fans, don't just let all that yuck fall to the ground - slip an old pillowcase over the blade & use it to clean. Then slip the pillowcase off carefully and slip it on the next blade - repeat until your fan is clean. Take the pillowcase outside, turn it inside out and give it a shake before you throw it in the laundry... Clean fan, Clean floor, No mess!!

More tips to keep dust at bay:

When dusting, start at the top and work your way down - let gravity work for you!  Also, always dust THEN vacuum, that way all the dust that falls to the floor will be sucked up by the vacuum (vacuums nowadays are very efficient and let almost no dust back into the air so you don’t have to worry about getting the furniture dusty again)

Keep that nasty dust off your TV and computer screens!!! After using your dryer sheet with your laundry, run it over your screens. The anti-static left in the dyer sheet repels dust and dirt

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