How Does House Dust Affect Health and What Can You Do

*Achoo!* It was a loud sneeze. “Is it a bit dusty in here,” she said. It was more of a statement than a question. Even though Jennifer* had cleaned the house dust, her friend still felt the environment was a bit hostile to her delicate allergy-enhanced senses. That’s when Jennifer found out there was more to cleaning house dust than she’d thought.

She reached out to us and wanted her home professionally cleaned. She was curious about our approach to cleaning house dust. So I thought I’d write an article about it to help Jennifer, as well as our other readers, make sense of this issue.

Today, we’re going to examine domestic dust on a deeper level – what it is, where it comes from, and what you can do about it.

In this article:

  • What is house dust?
  • Where does dust come from?
  • How does dust affect your health?
  • How to clean house dust at home?
    • Clean regularly
    • Change your sheets regularly
    • Avoid carpets
    • Use blinds instead of curtains
  • FAQs
    • What is house dust and what does it contain?
    • How does dust affect your health?
    • How can I reduce dust in my home?
    • Are there professional services to help reduce dust in homes?
  • Conclusion

What is house dust?

For years cleaning companies have claimed house dust is mostly human skin. I’m not sure where this asinine originated from but it’s patently false.

A close-up image capturing the dynamic motion of fine particles being released from a person's hands, symbolizing the composition of house dust which includes a variety of microscopic elements, not just human skin.

House dust is a collective term that describes microscopic particles that accumulate on surfaces. It’s mostly comprised of dirt, pollen, ash, and soot.

Insulation and other construction materials can start to break down and turn to dust in time. They then get airborne and spread through the whole building. That’s a second major source of dust in your home.

Another part comes from pet hairs, carpet fluff, and clothing fibres. Dead skin cells are a tiny part of it.

Think about it – if house dust was mostly dead skin, why would the attic and the basement be the dustiest places in your house? It doesn’t make sense, but then again, myths and misinformation tend to spread easily.

Where does dust come from?

A large part of house dust actually comes from outside your home. You carry it inside on your clothes and shoes. It gets in when you open your window. It spreads through the HVAC system (even if those are not that common in London). 

Inside your home, it comes from anything that breaks down, especially materials made up of fibres. Some of it is organic, and most of it is not. But none of this explains why and how it’s affecting your health.

How does dust affect your health?

House dust can affect your health in different ways depending on the type of dust and the size of the particles. In most cases, the body has a pretty good set of mechanisms to deal with it. However, in some cases, it can get overwhelmed and that’s when symptoms appear.

The most common symptoms are:

  • eye irritation
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • troubled breathing (common in people who suffer from chronic lung conditions)
  • asthma attacks
  • allergic reactions

There’s no evidence to suggest house dust causes asthma in and of itself. Yet it can definitely trigger an asthma attack in people who are already suffering from this dreadful condition.

Allergic reactions are another common response. House dust attracts microscopic arachnids called dust mites. They live in it and feed on the organic components.

People who suffer from house dust allergies are not actually allergic to the dust itself. They’re allergic to the microscopic bugs that live inside of it.

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How to clean house dust at home?

There’s no way to completely get rid of house dust in your home (nor would you want to). But there are ways to keep it within manageable levels.

An image of a clump of dust and debris on a wooden floor next to a broom, illustrating the typical household dust that requires regular cleaning to maintain a healthy living environment, especially for individuals with asthma.

Clean regularly

Regular cleaning is your safest bet to keep dust manageable. Vacuuming at least a few times a week and dusting would go a long way.

However, avoid using dusters or dry cloths. They don’t remove the dust – they merely shuffle it around your home and can do more harm than good by keeping it in the air.

If you or a family member suffers from asthma, then you need to clean extra carefully. Cleaning with asthma is a bit more specific.

In case you can’t afford to invest all that time into cleaning, but you need it done, you can book regular cleaning services in London. It will cost you a bit of money, but you’ll be safe in the knowledge your home is clean and healthy.

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Change your sheets regularly

Sheets and pillowcases tend to trap a lot of dust. They’re like a magnet for dust mites so if you want to minimize the negative health effects of house dust, change your sheets regularly.

Make sure to wash them at the highest temperature allowed by the manufacturer. Higher temperatures give you a better chance of killing the little buggers.

Avoid carpets

This is probably the most painful (and impractical tip) I can give you. I know you don’t want to hear it, especially if you’ve dished out serious cheddar on an expensive carpet, but I have to be thorough.

Carpets are great at both generating and trapping house dust. Every time you walk into the room, dust lifts off the carpet. Every time your kids run inside the house tumble on the carpet, they get covered in the stuff.

If you don’t want to get rid of your carpet (which is understandable), try to vacuum it regularly and have it professionally cleaned at least twice a year.

Use blinds instead of curtains

Curtains and drapes are in the same boat as carpets. If you don’t want to get rid of your beautiful drapery, that’s understandable, but you’ll be better off using blinds as far as dust is concerned.

Blinds are easier to clean and don’t generate dust because they’re not made of textile. Also, you can modernise your home by installing automatic blinds, which is a great bonus for convenience. Even if aesthetics might suffer a little.

FAQs

What is house dust and what does it contain?

House dust is a collective term for microscopic particles that accumulate on surfaces in your home. Contrary to the common myth that it’s mostly human skin, house dust primarily consists of dirt, pollen, ash, soot, insulation and construction materials breakdown, pet hairs, carpet fluff, and clothing fibers. Dead skin cells constitute only a tiny part of it.

How does dust affect your health?

While the body has mechanisms to deal with dust, excessive amounts can overwhelm these systems, leading to health issues. Common symptoms include eye irritation, sneezing, coughing, troubled breathing (especially in those with chronic lung conditions), asthma attacks, and allergic reactions. Dust mites, microscopic arachnids living in dust, are often the cause of these allergic reactions, not the dust itself.

How can I reduce dust in my home?

To keep dust at manageable levels, regular cleaning is essential. Vacuuming a few times a week and dusting with damp cloths instead of dry ones can prevent dust from circulating back into the air. Additionally, changing sheets regularly, avoiding carpets, and using blinds instead of curtains can significantly reduce dust accumulation.

Are there professional services to help reduce dust in homes?

Yes, for those unable to invest the time in regular cleaning or those needing extra help due to health conditions like asthma, professional cleaning services are available. Companies like Samyx Cleaning offer regular cleaning services that ensure your home remains clean and healthy, reducing the risk of dust-related health issues.

Conclusion

If like Jennifer, you have friends or household members who suffer from dust allergies, then you need to take extra care to clean household dust.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this issue. I hope I managed to clear out some of them today. You can do plenty to keep dust manageable. And if you can’t, you can always give us a call.

Disclaimer: Samyx Cleaning is a cleaning company and this is a cleaning blog. None of the advice above should be interpreted as medical advice. If you have any medical problems, make an appointment with your general physician or another health specialist.

*Not her real name. We value the privacy of our clients. 

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant, Author - Atanas
Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.