Fall weather is here with its crisp days and cooler nights. If you’re pulling out your cozy sweaters and blankets and getting ready to snuggle in for the winter, you might also be noticing an uninvited visitor: dust.
Our houses are a breeding ground for dust and dust mites. From our own skin cells and hair to carpets, upholstery and bedding, cozy spaces are dust magnets. In addition to being unsightly, dust also contributes to poor indoor air quality. Creating a safe and welcoming home requires reducing dust indoors.
If you’re noticing a grey coating of dust on your furniture and windowsills, it’s time to take action. Follow these tips to get rid of dust and breathe easier this winter.
1. Remove your shoes.
Set yourself up for success by installing a high quality doormat at your entrance to reduce what’s being tracked into your home. Always remove your shoes when indoors so that you don’t drag pollutants into your living space.
2. Vacuum regularly.
Even if you’re proactive about removing shoes, dust and debris is going to enter your home in other ways, and once it’s there you’ll have to clean it up. Vacuum regularly, preferably with a vacuum that’s equipped with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
Vacuums aren’t just for rugs. Start in the higher areas of your home and work downwards as you clean, using your vacuum to remove dust from curtains, furniture, lampshades, and blinds. Finish by vacuuming floors and carpets thoroughly.
If you have a lot of carpeting in your home, it’s worth considering replacing it with a flooring option that doesn’t hold onto dust, like hardwood or vinyl. Area rugs can be removed and beaten outdoors to eliminate dust more efficiently than vacuuming.
3. Dust surfaces and collectibles.
To prevent dust from collecting, it’s best to maintain minimal decor. Make sure that bookcases, curio cabinets, television stands, and other shelves and surfaces are dusted regularly.
An environmentally-friendly and effective way to remove dust from these areas is by using a damp cloth. Simply run your microfibre or other cloth over surfaces to collect dust, then rinse it down the drain.
If you’re in a rush, there are disposable dusting cloths on the market that make this task easy. Wipe pre-treated cloths over any hard surface and toss them away.
4. Groom your pets.
Pets require regular care to manage the accumulation of dead skin cells and hair. Bathe them regularly and make sure that you rub them down with a clean towel after messy walks to reduce the mud and dirt they track indoors.
5. Change sheets and get rid of excess clutter.
Bedding is a favourite area for collecting dead skin cells, and thus dust mites. Sheets and bedding should be laundered in hot water every week, and mattress covers and duvets should be cleaned monthly.
If you can, wash pillows by hand or in your machine, or have them dry cleaned. Especially if you suffer from allergies, it’s a good idea to invest in a sealed cover for pillows to prevent dust mites from accumulating there.
Take a look around your home and as best you can, remove excess clutter, especially from the floor. Off-season clothing should be zipped away in garment bags and closets should be kept tidy and dusted and vacuumed weekly.
6. Change your HVAC filter.
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system controls air intake to your home. Dirt, dust, dander, debris, and pollen are all pulled in from outside and can circulate through your duct system. A good quality HEPA filter helps to trap particles and improve the air quality inside your home.
If your filter is full, it can no longer collect dust, which means it continues to circulate. Check your filter regularly and replace it as often as monthly to ensure optimal performance.
7. Check your ductwork.
It’s not only dirty filters that can decrease performance of your HVAC system. Leaky ducts allow unfiltered air to enter your system and circulate through your home. Check and seal return air vents, especially in places where they’re sucking in air from attics and crawl spaces.
It’s a good idea to shut down your system briefly in the winter and check for areas where you feel a cold breeze. This could indicate a leak, since you shouldn’t ever feel cold air blowing in if your system is properly sealed. Also, check your registers. They should be mostly clean, but if some are dustier than others, it’s another indication that there’s a leak nearby.
8. Schedule an annual check of your HVAC system.
Being diligent about reducing the dust in your home requires regular home maintenance, but ultimately, maintaining a properly functioning HVAC system will be essential no matter how many other steps you take.
A reliable service provider will clean your system and ensure that it’s functioning properly. This is also a good time to ask about HEPA filters. We’ve already mentioned that they’re better at removing dust and debris, but they also make it more difficult for air to pass through. That means that switching to HEPA filters may require air flow adjustments.
Ask about installing an air purifier that works with your HVAC system to remove even smaller particles from your air circulation. Purifiers can be an effective way to clean your air, but work best when they filter an entire home rather than a small area or single room.
If you cozy up on your couch only to look around and notice you’re surrounded by dust, don’t worry. Most homes have a lot of dust, and the drier winter months mean static electricity causes it to stick to surfaces where we really notice it. Still, taking some proactive steps to reduce its accumulation will not only prolong the life of your HVAC system and ensure its optimal functioning, but it will also improve the air quality inside your home.
With the winter stretching out ahead of us, now is a great time to drag out your dust cloths, give your home a good vacuuming, and have your HVAC system serviced so that you’re ready to enjoy snow days spent snuggled up inside.