Common Sense Guide for Consumers
Dust and dirt in a home contain a lot of surprises: a combination of common allergens and industrial chemicals including pet dander, flame retardants, fungal spores, lead, carpet fibers, and pesticides. Kids have the most exposure to dust – they play on the floor, suck on toys, and lick their fingers… and unfortunately kids’ developing bodies are most vulnerable to these chemicals. The common sense approach is to take dusting and cleaning the floors a bit more seriously, and here are ways to do that effectively:
Use doormats, and create a shoes-off house. Track-in from shoes brings pollutants into the home, including lead from contaminated soil and pesticides. Doormats at all exterior doors reduce the track-in, and the best practice is to go shoes-off – make it convenient for people to leave their shoes at the door. Tip: favorite slippers help encourage taking shoes off!
Vaccuum at least weekly. Invest in a vaccum that does the job right: a machine with a HEPA filter, which sucks up the dust and dirt without blowing exhaust containing small particles back into the air. Avoid bagless designs, which increase exposure to the dirt and dust when you try to shake/empty it into your trashcan. Vaccum hardwood floors as well as carpets. Sweeping does not work as effectively.
Damp dust. For cleaning shelves, windowsills and any surfaces, use water or a vinegar/water solution on a terry cloth rag or microfiber cloth. This technique picks up the dust, instead of pushing it around. Then wash all your rags for re-use (separately from your clothes).
Wash your hands before eating. This is a great habit, especially for kids, to reduce exposure to pollutants in dust and dirt.
If you have carpet consider a hot water extraction treatment annually. Deep dust tends to build up in carpets even when they are vacuumed regularly.
For more info on what’s in dust and how to reduce it, check out this Environmental Working Group fact sheet.