What Is Dust?


If only it was as magical as fairy dust or star dust, but the truth is, it's even more unfathomable than that! Household dust is partly composed of fine particles of soil, pollen or soot from the outdoors, but the majority of the dust that you see floating in sunlight as it streams through the window is produced indoors. The ratio of outdoor to indoor is 1:3. Both kinds, however, pose their own health hazards.

clean me sm bYour dead skin cells, your pet's dander, and the dust mites that feast on these goodies are part of dust. In humid climates, dust mites produce their own waste and that fecal matter is a common allergen. Fibers from clothing, furniture and carpets also add to the dust. If any of these fibers have been exposed to flame retardants or pesticides, this dust is even more likely to cause health issues. Decayed insects break into tiny particles and human hair also join the collection. It's enough to turn anyone into a cleanaholic!

Consider whether you are in a new or newly renovated home. If so, your dust could also contain fine saw dust from cutting wood; plaster dust from dry-walling; and accumulated dirt and dust that are released from tearing out old carpets, floors, or walls.

What a brew! Over time or in the right environment, dust layers on thickly. Or it floats around and is corralled by air currents in your home. The result? Furry masses known as dust bunnies—anything but a cute pet.

Dust builds up in vents and HVAC systems. Out of sight is not out of mind in this case. You might not feel susceptible to allergies, but increased exposure to allergens may increase the likelihood of developing allergies.

Cleaning options? Brooms churn the air and send it scattering. It's the least you can do as a daily method. Vacuuming frequently is good, but some vacuums contribute to dust being blown further out of reach. For a deep clean, it's best to vacuum first and then wipe with a dampened mop or rag.

dustbunnies sm bYour vacuum's floor brush will remove the fluffy dust bunnies; however, a layer of dust that has been able to form and stick due to humidity will only be partially removed by vacuuming. When left, it provides an excellent base layer for the next bit of dust that blows over it.

If you often cook with oil, oil particles coat surfaces around the stove and in the kitchen, which also makes a fantastic base layer for dust. For the latter scenario, hot damp rags are necessary with a touch of oil-cutting dish detergent and/or baking soda and vinegar.

Microfiber rags dampened in hot water with several drops of an antibiotic essential oil—such as tea tree, cinnamon or eucalyptus—are highly effective in actually lifting and removing dust. Use dampened rags on furniture, trim around windows and doors, the floor, and in window sills to combat mold as well.

dust sm b

Airborne outdoor dust particles are an attractant of airborne chemical pollutants, and together they find their way into homes daily. An excellent example of this is the seasonal yellow dust that is blown from the deserts of Mongolia, Northern China and Kazakhstan. The fine soil particles pick up the industrial pollutants—toxic heavy metals, pesticides and carcinogens—as they cross China. It's not unheard of for this annual phenomenon to carry polluted dust as far as the United States, even reaching the Grand Canyon!

Now doesn't that shed a whole new light on dust? A bit of cleaning every day and periodic cleaning of air vents and HVAC systems should minimize exposure and reduce susceptibility to asthma and allergies!

 
 
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