Air purifiers are highly effective in helping to reduce the overall amount of dust in our homes.
However, as dust particles sit on various surfaces and dust mites live in carpets and bedding, an air purifier can’t tackle the issue alone.
Still, it can pull dust particles from the air, making them less likely to settle. It also means less dust is inhaled and ingested due to the cleaner air!
It isn’t until a sunbeam comes through a window that we realize how much dust is floating inside our homes. Even if you keep a clean home, dust is an ever-present issue. The constant shedding of dead skin cells— half a billion per person per day— contributes to the amount of dust in our environment.
Combine this with hair, fibers from our clothes and carpets, pieces of dead bugs, bacteria, microplastics, food debris and soil particles and it all adds together to create what we call dust.
If you’re tired of dust in your house, you may consider an air purifier to help with the issue. Air purifiers work to remove a host of contaminants from the air, including dust— but is it truly effective?
This article will explore what you need to know about dust and how air purifiers can help minimize its presence!
Why is Household Dust a Problem?
No one likes dust. It’s a pain to clean, makes our homes look dirty and irritates breathing.
But is it really a “problem”?
Dust is a major trigger for those with allergies and asthma. This is not due to the dead skin cells that make up the bulk of dust but what the dust carries.
Within the particles are tiny passengers called dust mites, a microscopic insect many people have an allergy to. Dust can also hold other irritants, such as pollen and mold, similarly triggering allergies.
Okay, but maybe you don’t have allergies or asthma. You shouldn’t need to worry if you aren’t sensitive to dust, right?
Not so fast.
While dust mites, pollen and mold aren’t things anyone should be happy about breathing in; the dust can also hold more harmful microparticles that are tracked in from outside, such as metals, bacteria and pesticides.
It can even contain toxic substances such as DDT and lead from old homes. This is particularly relevant in the case of very old dust that has settled into cracks in hardwood or the edges of carpets.
Long-term exposure to high dust levels is harmful to humans, even without allergies or sensitivities. There are established links between dust inhalation and lung disease, which has led to the deaths of 12,000 UK residents.
While the research is still being developed, it would appear that limiting the amount of dust we inhale and ingest can only be beneficial!
So… Does An Air Purifier Help With Dust?
Dust is a large particle, while dust mites are microscopic. They feed on the dead skin cells that make up most of the dust. So, can an air purifier help with these critters?
When it comes to helping with dust, air purifiers can handle large components (like dead skin cells) and finer particles such as dust mites, pollen, bacteria and mold.
It comes down to having an air purifier with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. According to the EPA, a HEPA filter will remove 99.97% of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size.
A dust mite is 20 microns long, much larger than the smallest particle a HEPA filter can handle. It can even handle almost all bacteria and viruses, generally just one or two microns in size.
What’s important to remember with dust mites is that while some float through the air on dust, most will live in our bedding, carpets, and furniture. A good quality air purifier will help with the dust in the air, but it won’t completely solve the issue.
However, less dust in the air means less is inhaled, and a smaller amount will settle!
Those already happily landed on our soft surfaces will need to be addressed through other means, such as washing and steam cleaning.
How Does an Air Purifier Help With Dust?
Dust is just one type of particle material (PM) air purifiers can remove. These pollutants include large particles we can see, such as dust, hair and dirt, along with microscopic particles, such as viruses, bacteria and mold (and many others).
Air purifiers filter pollutants using a fan. The air is then passed through three levels of filters before the clean air is pushed back out to recirculate through the room. The first filtration stage traps the largest PM in the pre-filter before it can make its way into the machine.
This mesh filter will often cover the vent outside the air purifier, making it easy to see when it is blocked. The filter can then be removed and cleaned.
The second stage of filtration has air pass through the activated carbon filter. This absorbs odors from cigarettes, pets, cooking, the bathroom and dirty clothing. This filter also handles volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, chloroform and benzene.
The final stage will remove the smallest PMs. This stage is the HEPA filter, which will handle at least 99% of particles depending on the grade of the filter. This includes pollen, viruses, bacteria and mold.
While most of the dust particles will be filtered at the pre-filter stage, some smaller components we cannot see, such as pollen, dust mites, or mold, are still small enough to pass through. The HEPA filter will then catch these particles, leaving the air clean and fresh.
8 Natural Ways to Fight Household Dust
An air purifier is a great start to tackling dust. Still, there are plenty of other methods to reduce dust in your home.
1. Dust with microfiber cloths
When you dust your surfaces with a feather duster or an old sock, much of it will end up in the air, only to resettle later. A microfiber cloth will help to prevent this as it contains fibers that the dust clings to. Some will still be disturbed in the air due to how light the dust is, but the total amount will be greatly reduced.
2. Use a HEPA filtered vacuum
Ordinary vacuums are good for hair, fur, dirt and some components of dust, but very fine particles will end up back in the air. A HEPA filter will help to trap these microscopic particles. Vacuum all soft furnishings, including couches and curtains.
|Pro tip: This excellent BISSELL 2998 has a solid HEPA sealed allergen system that traps 99.97% of dust and allergens.|
3. Wash your bedding and curtains
Regularly washing sheets is essential, but even those of us that do this may still have blankets and comforters that are going too long between washes. Dust mites happily live on these soft surfaces while feeding on our skin flakes. The Asthma Association recommends washing blankets every six to eight weeks. With children, this includes their stuffed toys as well!
4. Groom your pet regularly
Pet fur and dander can significantly contribute to dust. Regularly brush your pets outdoors, give them baths and send them to groomers when appropriate.
5. Declutter your house
Limit the amount of surface area for dust to collect by having fewer items out of your shelves and surfaces. This will also make it easier to clean! Unnecessary items can go into storage or be given away. It’s also a good idea for any bedding you aren’t using to be placed in vacuum-sealed bags for storage so they can’t accumulate dust.
|Pro tip: Wy not join your local Buy Nothing Group to start donating your unwanted items? What better way to start decluttering. |
Here are some other ways you can donate:
The Salvation Army
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Take Back Bag
6. Make sure to clean neglected areas
Dust likes to hide in places we don’t always think to clean. Make sure you occasionally reach the tops of doors and windows, ceiling fans, lampshades and baseboards— and even wipe down your walls occasionally!
7. Keep the dryer filter clean
The lint from the dryer can end up back into the air, adding to the overall level of dust. Make sure to clean it every time you use the dryer— not just to reduce dust, but also for fire safety!
|Pro tip: Here’s how to clean your dryer filter without damaging it: |
1. Fill a large container with 4 cups of hot water. Mix in 1 ounce of all-purpose cleaner.
2. Pull out your lint trap and remove excess lint with your hand or a vacuum cleaner.
3. Put the lint trap into the hot water and soak for 10 minutes.
4. Use a sponge to remove the loosened residue.
5. Rinse with clean water.
6. Dry the lint screen with a clean towel.
7. Allow it to air dry before replacing it in your dryer.
8. Leave the shoes outside
Not wearing shoes inside helps to keep the house clean as less dirt is tracked in. Many dust components come from outside and tend to be the most harmful.
We would all love to have less dust to deal with. However, since our skin is the biggest component of dust, it’s here to stay as long as we’re around! Many of us suffer from allergies due to dust mites and while complete elimination isn’t possible, some steps can be taken to manage it better.
While regular cleaning is essential, an air purifier can also help remove dust particles from the air, allowing us to breathe less. Look for an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove even the tiniest micro particles!
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American Chemical Society. (2011.) The Skinny on How Shed Skin Reduces Indoor Air Pollution. acs.org
Ashton, D. (2022). What Does An Air Purifier Do? housefresh.com
Blay, F.D et al. (1991.) Airborne Dust Mite Allergens. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Butte W, Heinzow B. (2002.) Pollutants In House Dust As Indicators Of Indoor Contamination. europepmc.org
Henzy, J. (2022). Measuring Up. schaechter.asmblog.org
Dhamija, D, Harrison, C, Kumar, E. (2022). Allergies, asthma, and dust. medlineplus.gov
Kaneshiro, N.K, Dugdale, D.C, Conaway, B. (2019.) What is dust, and is it harmful to human health? newscientist.com
United States Environmental Protection Agency. What is a HEPA filter? epa.gov
Van Evra, J.(2022). Allergy Control: How to Defeat Dust Mites, a Big Trigger. allergicliving.com