Minute Menace: How Dust Can Affect You and Your Home

For people working full-time jobs, trying to keep a good balance between relaxing after work and keeping their homes looking good, it can often be easy to just clean what they can see and call it a day. But the accumulation of dust and grime in less accessible areas can have negative effects in the long term if left unattended. Here’s a brief rundown of why dust is dangerous and what you should do to deal with it:

The Invisible Menace

Dust is one of the most common air pollutants around. It comes from a variety of sources, but household dust is usually a combination of dead skin cells from humans or animals and outside pollutants such as pollen. In small amounts, it’s not terribly harmful, but people with sensitive sinuses are particularly susceptible to irritation. In large amounts, it poses a notable risk since it can infiltrate the insides of sensitive household appliances and cause them to malfunction.

It’s critical to keep a close eye on how much dust is accumulating in your home. Sure, doing a light dusting once a week is quite easy, but keeping it off your household surfaces is only one of the ways to ensure that your home stays in great condition for years to come.

Where Does Dust Hide?

It’s often in the places that are inconvenient to check that dust buildups can get a bit out of control. Dust that builds up out of sight can become a huge problem, especially for people who are on a tight schedule and who only have time to do a surface-level cleaning.

One of the most common places dust can build up unnoticed is furniture such as couches and anything with a fabric-upholstered cushion. The tiny particles can easily penetrate the material and build up within the cushion for months or even years if left unchecked. This can eventually lead to allergic reactions or, in severe cases, even respiratory tract infections.

Aside from the potential health risks, it’s also of note that dust can damage the electrical system in your house. Most people don’t think to check for dust behind the plates that cover their light switches. The accumulation in these areas can lead to the switch not functioning because the contacts inside it get obstructed.

Hidden Danger

Due to the nature of dust—it’s a collection of small particles that tend to clump together—it works as a surprisingly good insulator. This is quite dangerous, especially when it penetrates electronics such as laptops, which aren’t usually opened and cleaned by the users and require servicing from a repair person. The dust can muck up the fans and tiny moving parts inside a laptop, which could lead to overheating or, in some severe cases, hardware failure.

Dust accumulation can also be costing you a pretty penny in utility bills without you even knowing. Household appliances such as your dryer rely on a stream of warm air to evaporate the water off your laundry, which means that your dryer is especially vulnerable to dust buildups.

Clogged dryer vents are a significant fire hazard because of how they work. The extra effort required to pass air through a congested system means that the machine works much less efficiently, leading to higher electrical consumption. Because of that, cleaning the dryer vents and all other similar exhaust points regularly is vital.

Dealing with Dust

woman wearing face mask

Getting rid of dust in your home isn’t a difficult task; it just requires diligence and some hunting around to find the worst of it. Despite the image and function of the classic feather duster, it is terrible for actually getting rid of dust. You’re sweeping it back up into the air to settle someplace else. If you are sensitive to dust inhalation, it might also be worth investing in an air purifier to help filter out the ambient particles in the air.

A much more effective way to remove dust from your household surfaces is using a moist cloth to get the dust wet and prevent it from floating back up into the air. When cleaning the computers or other sensitive electronic devices, it’s best to blast the inside with a bit of air to get rid of the dust. Then follow up by wiping them down with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol.

But heavy-duty maintenance to get rid of dust in the more sensitive parts of your home, such as the various vents and electrical boxes, should be left to professionals. This prevents accidental damage and a hefty repair bill if something goes wrong.

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