How those things, like fine dust, we can’t see can hurt us…and what to do about it

I want to invite you into the world of the microscopic. Where those things that we can’t normally see can be at once both beautiful and terrifying. Like very fine dust particles.

Take the humble dust particle for example. We don’t normally give dust much thought, perhaps because a particle of dust is imperceptible to the naked human eye. Except perhaps when it dances in front of a shaft of sunlight. Have you ever wondered why it floats?

Or how so much dust can accumulate on top of ceiling fans and high ledges? Or why it’s so difficult, well-nigh impossible, to get rid of fine particle dust? If we zoom right in, what precisely comprises a dust particle and how does it impact human health and wellbeing?

Let’s take a closer look. A typical indoor dust particle contains; Hairs, skin flakes, clothing and carpet fibres, dirt, insect body parts and waste, pollens, mould spores, animal dander, pathogens, irritants and contaminants from the products we use to name a few of the usual suspects. It’s a whole other world.

I was once so enamoured with the idea of becoming a father that I determined to get my environment pristine in preparation for the arrival of my first child, a beautiful baby girl. It was a steep learning curve for me. And learn I did. Dust floats because the very act of dusting and vacuuming actually creates a static electricity charge that attaches to the dust particles when disturbed. This allows the practically weightless dust, contaminant and pollutant particles to seemingly defy the laws of physics and gravity. The really fine dust is thus made airborne whilst we clean and over time accumulates in our homes becoming a playground for microscopic irritants, pollutants and their detestable little pals like dust mites, bacteria and mould.

But things look clean right and we know how to spruce things up when the guests come around. But why are we always cleaning? We seem to spend a lot of time cleaning because we’re mainly circulating the fine dust, not removing it. Those things that we can’t see can hurt us. And it turns out rather badly in fact.

I’m no doctor but I do have a body. And if we can be still enough to hear it the human body is a fine tuned and very truthful instrument for discerning what’s good for us and what’s not so good for us. And not just in the material world it turns out, but when it comes to clean and healthy environments like the beach or a mountain we feel exhilarated. And the opposite is true when we enter a dank, dark and dusty home.

Now most homes to be fair are not at either extreme, but look good on the surface… until you start to look closely.

And it seems science is catching up with the timeless wisdom of the human body. Such as the emerging link between inhaling toxic mould spores and alzheimers (link below) and we’ve known thanks to science for some time of the respiratory and associated illnesses that exposure to dust can cause for those with dust and associated allergies. But what about the rest of us? More will be revealed in time. But why wait? Prevention is always much better than the cure. And with billions spent on treating disease in Australia alone, why is so little spent on preventative measures such as creating healthier indoors environments? The answer as always is to do with money.

So what can we do about it?

Well for the average householder unable or unwilling to invest in the necessary equipment that is required to really go after the dust in one foul swoop like my company 1800 CLEANER are specialists at doing, I suggest the following;

Choose a day and time when you can control any traffic in the house. You want the house to be still with no wind drafts so close all windows and doors and ensure no one will disturb the house for two or three hours before you clean. Then when the time comes enter the house gently and softly and with a warm damp microfibre cloth wipe down all of the open surfaces and mop the hard floors so that you can collect much of the fine dust that has settled there. Remember when you vacuum and dust you are making that fine dust float so this is a stealthy operation and will need to be conducted again and again over time until the majority of dust has been removed.

The next step is to get up on top of the high cupboards and ceiling fans etc to wipe the dust accumulated up there off and out. Then move the furniture and then we start to vacuum and conduct our normal cleaning procedures. The best way to think about this process is to imagine a pillow with 100 dust particles in it. The first time you bang the pillow against the wall you might get 50 particles out. Then the second time, 20 and then 10, 5 and so on until there are only a couple of particles left which sadly you will never completely eliminate. Its like this with the home. The first time you’ll get a lot of dust and each time thereafter a little less until after several cleans the levels of fine dust are minimal. It’s the law of diminishing returns that actually returns you to health.

And invest in mattress protectors and an anti-bacterial air filter in your bedroom. I hope this article has been helpful to you and if you have any specific questions or require more information please contact us.

Thanks for reading and please share.

Michael Sweet.

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3 replies
  1. Kate
    Kate says:

    Hi. Great article! I have slight dust allergies and am wondering if you could help me out? I have uneven and untreated wood surfaces as our bed head and am wondering the best way to remove the dust from here. The cloths/duster I use either gets stuck on the surface or it doesn’t remove the dust properly. Looking forward to your tips. K

    • Michael Sweet
      Michael Sweet says:

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for your question and especially for being the first person to post on our new blog. It’s interesting how such a simple question can require such a complex answer as yours does.

      So if we were to zoom in on the surface as per the pic you supplied it would appear quite porous under a microscope; we would see that the surface appears to be made up of valleys and ridges with jagged edges that not only will collect fine dust and microscopic irritants in the valleys but also the jagged edges will catch any of the fibres they come into contact with such as those of microfibre dusters and cleaning clothes.

      So what to do? I see three options in order of preference as listed below;

      Option 1 – I would try a hard brush vacuum tool on my vacuum cleaner (hopefully it has a HEPA filter) and see how that goes.

      Option 2 – I would use my duster quite vigorously a few centimetres away from the surface to create a strong wind gust that will dislodge the fine dust and other particles into the air which you will then need to deal with in one of two ways; firstly would be to have the doors and windows closed and be running an antibacterial HEPA (high efficiency particulate filter) and then afterwards vacuum the floors or secondly/alternatively to try create a through-draft by opening specific doors/windows in order to ensure the free floating particles are carried outside.

      Option 3 – Is the option of last resort which involves washing the bedhead with warm water and one of the two products we use which I’d recommend or perhaps a blend of both together; Ecolove (either product A or B). A for actually cleaning the surface with its citris acid all natural base or B as it has an Anti-Mould Inhibitor. Both can be purchased here;

      So I would avoid using any product with toxic ingredients. Now when using this method you need a white scourer and warm water to literally wash the surface liberally and the important thing is drying it. You won’t be able to manually dry it so be prepared to either make sure the room is really warm and ideally have direct sunlight do the job for you. What you don’t want is for the wet surface to not be dried effectively which can culminate in potential growth of mould which is potentially an even bigger problem and a tricky one to resolve.

      So Kate you really need to discern the nature of that surface, is it sealed or unsealed and can you dry it quickly before contemplating option 3 which will be most effective in one way and potentially problematic in another.

      I hope that all makes sense and please do drop us a line to let us know how it all goes. Best of luck,

      Warmly. Michael.


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