Reducing House Dust

I want to take you with me on a journey into the world of the microscopic. A world within our world that the naked human eye can not see.

It is nonetheless a world that impacts our lives dramatically. A world that is simultaneously terrifying and incredibly beautiful all at once.

The recent drama of the worldwide panic about a virus so small that we can’t see it is opening our eyes to the dangers of the minuscule world of viruses and pathogens.

These things are so tiny that they have escaped human control throughout history and the debate rages on as to whether or not we will ever control them.

Once you get your head around the microscopic nature of such things you may come to see that wearing a mask to stop a microscopic virus is like trying to stop a mustard seed with a farmer’s wooden fence.

Let’s talk about dust

Viruses are just one of many microscopic things that we humans can be dramatically impacted by, most of which we have very limited control over in practical reality.

This article wishes to talk about an even more common and far less talked about microscopic subject, that gratefully we can do something about to dramatically improve our health. It’s dust and more specifically common house dust.

We want to deal with the effect dust can have on the health and wellbeing of those humans who live with it which is practically everyone who lives under a roof on the planet.

How big is dust?

Dust particles vary in size. The dust we are talking about here is the dust so small that you can’t see it unless it clumps together on an open surface in your home.

Individually you can discern it if it glitters in a sunshine shaft as the light reflects off it. It can range in size from as small as half a micron to 100 microns.

A micron is one-millionth of a meter. To give you an idea of the scale we will start high and finish low.

100 microns                             Thickness of a standard sheet of paper

70-30 microns                          Circumference of a human hair

40 microns                              Naked eye visibility threshold

25 microns                               Diameter of a white blood cell

10 microns                               Size of typical adult dust mite

8 micros                                   Diameter of a red blood cell

2 microns                                 Diameter of Coccus Bacteria

0.5 microns                              Diameter of Bacillus Bacteria

0.1 microns                              Diameter of Coronavirus

0.1 – 0.5 nanometres               Diameter of a typical atom

(A nanometre is one-billionth of a meter)

If you’re still reading then you get an idea of the breathtaking sizes we’re talking about here. Once you get down to the atomic level things really start to boggle the mind.

We can leave that level of infinitesimal smallness for another time and perhaps a follow-up article.

What comprises a typical house dust particle?

house dust particle

Photo by Vinicius Wiesehofer from Pixabay

The average-sized human being is purported to shed on average a full teaspoon of dead skin flakes each and every week. These dead human skin scales are a favorite food of dust mites.

Additional to human skin flakes, dust mites, and their feces, we often find things like human hairs, insect parts, animal dander, microscopic plastics, and other fibers, pollens from plants, mold spores, micro-dirt, aerosols, and a myriad of tiny contaminants including exhaust fumes and aerosols and assorted minuscule things; some benign and some toxic.

See also: 5 Things You Should Know about Housecleaning and Asthma

Why is dust so harmful?

Whether you have allergies or not, most human beings will feel the negative effects of being in an indoor environment for an extended period of time that is too dusty.

Most of us are sensitive enough to feel an ickiness in such dank places. For those with allergies and higher sensitivities, the impact is usually much worse with asthma, eczema, dizziness, dry throat, sore eyes, itching, sneezing, and congestion, and an overall feeling of unwellness being typical symptoms.

Over time our immune system can become compromised, opening the doorway to other illnesses and disease.

The poos of the dust mites typically contain undigested enzymes from the human skin scales they delight in consuming. These tiny fragments can enter our lungs and cause mild to substantial irritation.

Cutting the breeding cycle of dust mites is critical. By reducing their food supply and overall levels of dust in your home you can expect to find an immediate improvement in the aforementioned symptoms.

Why is it so hard to get rid of the dust?

Get rid of the dust

Photo by Austrian National Library from Unsplash

This microscopic dust is very hard to get rid of. It’s not only so tiny that it floats but it is also subject to the phenomenon of static electricity when you try to remove it with traditional cleaning methods.

This positive charge that we put on these tiny particles can actually contribute to making the fine particles stay suspended mid-air in an indoor environment for up to five days.

That’s why we often find that thin layer of dust collecting again and again on open surfaces in the days following our cleaning efforts.

There is, therefore, an imperceptible dust-fog occurring in most modern homes unbeknownst to its inhabitants.

This fog seems to be at its thickest when there is a lot of movement and starts to settle somewhat when the home is still for days and weeks, but it is easy to disturb.

Read also: 7 Eco-friendly Home Cleaning Tips That Work Like Magic

What can your average household do about it?

The best move for the modern household is to understand how dust behaves and to have a plan for it.

The first crucial step is to appreciate that it floats under typical conditions and to negate that by using an ionizer when cleaning with doors and windows closed to minimize through drafts and allow the dust to settle pre-clean.

This will assist overtime in ensuring that the positive static electricity charge that attaches to the particle is negated by the negative ionic charge and the dust will fall to the open surfaces and ground much quicker.

Now that the dust is no longer floating as much, we can use our vacuum cleaner to collect it. Make sure your vac is equipped with a HEPA grade filter and use microfibre mops and cloths.

Particularly thick sections of dust should be approached with a moist cloth. It’s difficult to get it all the dust in one fell swoop. This is a process.

The law of diminishing dust returns

Ever decreasing amounts of dust will be removed with each subsequent clean, dramatically reducing the dust-fog in the home over time as less and less dust remains.

To do this well you should really still the house, reduce through traffic, and make a minimum of physical movements as you clean in the initial stages when the dust is at its worst.

Once the bulk of dust is removed, then you can use a feather duster vigorously to dislodge all the hidden dust in the nooks and crannies.

This will take time and is a process with the law of diminishing returns helping you to remove less and less dust each time from a house that has increasingly smaller levels of dust remaining within it.

The last step is to breathe easy and enjoy.

About The Author:

Michael Sweet is the founder of 1800 CLEANER and has over 30 years of professional cleaning experience.

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