Household dust – the miniscule and invisible particles of debris floating around in your home that come to rest and build up on surfaces until they’re noticeable enough to clean.
Dust is an unfortunate reality of our everyday lives inside the home, but what’s really in it, and can it be dangerous for our health?
What’s in common household dust?
Put down whatever you’re eating before reading this.
Some scientists have had a microscopic look at typical household dust and have most commonly found dead skin cells, hair (pet and human), dirt/soil brought in on shoes, and faecal matter. Dust from homes within cities or main traffic thoroughfares can also contain particles exhausted from petrol and diesel vehicles.
There are also approximately 45 different chemicals found in common household dust that are made up of things like perfumes, cleaning chemicals, BPA from plastic, and other potentially harmful chemicals.
Why can some household dust be dangerous?
People with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma, smokers, bronchitis etc. are at an increased risk of developing complications from high levels of dust in the home, but the danger isn’t limited to this group.
The three main groups of potentially dangerous chemicals found in household dust include:
Phthalates: used to make plastics more malleable such as food packaging.
Flame retardants: found on furniture, some baby products, and insulation.
Fragrances: found in personal care products and items such as scented candles
The danger of most chemicals found in your household dust is that for a lot of them, a safe level of exposure hasn’t been determined.
What can you do to reduce the danger of household dust?
Vacuum often: don’t give the dust too much time to accumulate on your carpets, tiles, or other floor surfaces and larger furniture.
Use a damp microfibre cloth: switch out your duster for a damp microfibre cloth. Dry dusting only recirculates the dust into the air to eventually land somewhere else in your house!
Ventilate: If you’re doing a bunch of cleaning with chemicals or have a lot of smells going on at once, throw open some windows and allow some of those chemicals to escape your home.
Invest in a good air purifier: if you can’t ventilate with outside air that often, invest in a good quality air purifier that can effectively sanities your air and neutralise toxins and pollutants floating around.
Try to keep your furry friends outside: pets bring in lots of extra soil, dirt, skin, and hair when they spend their time indoors. Try to limit their inside time if possible.
De-clutter your house: the more ‘stuff’ you have on your household surfaces such as ornaments, books, or other random clutter, the more dust they will accumulate. Time for a good spring clean!
Take your shoes off: make removing your shoes at the front door a regular practice. This will reduce the amount of debris and other particles you bring into your home on the soles of your feet.