Your home is hopping with bunnies -- dust bunnies. Look in the corners and under beds and you'll see these fuzzy but not very cute balls of dust that hide in dark places.
What you can't see are all the microscopic particles that attach themselves to dust bunnies as they roll around the house. They're likely to collect hair, dirt, pollen, mold spores, lint, paint flakes, stray clothing, carpet fibers, and even pieces of dead insects.
The big problem with dust bunnies, though, is dust mites. In a gram of dust, there may be hundreds or even thousands of these tiny, eight-legged bugs that live off shed skin. Everywhere dust mites go, they leave behind waste that triggers sneezes and sniffles in people who are allergic to it.
Common Dust Bunny Hideouts
Look for dust bunnies when you clean. You're likely to find them:
- Under and behind furniture, like the bed, refrigerator, and couch
- In the corners of molding
- Under carpets
- Inside mattresses and pillows
- In the stuffing of upholstered furniture
- Inside the pleated tops of curtains
- In between lampshade pleats
- Between appliances
Dust Bunny Cleaning Tips
Vacuuming and dusting regularly are obvious ways to banish dust bunnies. But cleaning can also stir up dust. Wear a mask when you clean if you've got a dust mite allergy.
Try these other cleaning tips:
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if you can. It is better at sucking up dust so you don't just spread it around.
- Use the vacuum attachments to get into cracks and crevices where dust hides. Run them over the couch and other upholstered furniture to suck up dead skin cells.
- Pull out the refrigerator and move furniture to get into all the corners.
- Wet or spray your dust cloth with a little furniture polish or cleaner before you use it. Otherwise, you'll just send dust particles floating back into the air.
- To keep dust mites out of your bed, regularly wash bedding in hot water (at least 130° F).
Dust Mite Prevention
Dust mites like moisture. To keep them from congregating in the first place, consider using a dehumidifier to remove extra moisture from the air. Keep the humidity below 50%.
Don't Obsess About Dust
Keeping a clean house can control dust bunnies and mites, but you can't wipe them out entirely. And maybe that's a good thing if you have an infant at home. A 2007 study found that exposure to dust may prime a baby's immune system to better protect against future allergies.
Not all researchers agree, and exposing your kids to dust alone won’t make them allergy-free. But it could be a factor in the development of allergies.