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Cleaning Tips: Dust Bunnies and Mites in Your Home

Scientist and author, Beth enjoys living life in the slow lane. She takes time to enjoy the little things in life.

Are Dust Bunnies Harmful?

Can these giant clumps of dirt, dust mites, and household fluff make you sick? Yes they can. They harbor bacteria, dead skin cells, and other household detritus; they should be removed whenever you find them.

A healthy household means keeping dirt at bay. Draw up a cleaning schedule, and involve everyone who lives with you. Talk about hygiene and allergies with your family. Children need to learn from a young age that everyone has a part to play in keeping the home clean.

Dirt or dust bunnies accumulate under beds and in other hard-to-reach corners.

Dirt or dust bunnies accumulate under beds and in other hard-to-reach corners.

What to Use For Effective Cleaning

Anti-static Duster for Maximum Dust Collection

Cleaning dusty surfaces with a dry rag or cloth duster quickly becomes ineffective. Only a small volume of dust particles will stick to dry fabric. You end up just moving the dirt from one surface to another without actually removing any of it.

You could dampen the cloth with either plain water, or a squirt of furniture wax polish, and that will help collect more dust. However, the best way to collect the maximum amount of grime is to use an anti-static cloth.

An anti-static cloth neutralizes the electrical charge that attracts dust particles to one another. It means that the dirt remains on your cloth, rather than jumping off onto another dry surface as you clean.

Bendable Dusters for Awkward Corners

For delicate dusting, a soft make-up brush or small paint-brush is ideal. The fine hairs allow you to get into the tiny cracks and crevices found on ornaments, and furniture. If you use a toothbrush to help you with this kind of fine dusting, make sure it is a soft one and does not have scratchy bristles.

There are anti-static bendable dusters available. These are great for getting around bends and into corners like pipework under the sink, or under and behind central heating radiators.

What Are Dust Bunnies? How Big Are Dust Mites?

A dust bunny is a large ball of fluff, dust, grime, skin cells, animal hairs and other microscopic particles, that grow under the bed, or in dark corners of your home if no cleaning is done. Dust harbors dust mites and these are tiny creatures that can cause ill-health in susceptible individuals.

Individual dust particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but they are small enough to be inhaled, and can cause allergic reactions or breathing difficulties in vulnerable people.

The house dust mites makes its home in fluff bunnies. The mites measure less than half a millimeter when fully grown, and millions live unseen in each of our homes. Up to 50% of us suffer from some kind of allergy, and a common allergen is the poo of the house dust mite, and the skin flakes of the dust mite itself. To reduce the millions of dust mites that live in our homes it is important to dust and vacuum regularly.

House dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) seen under a microscope.

House dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) seen under a microscope.

Dust Mite Facts

  • House dust mites are acari, a type of arachnid, and they have eight legs.
  • They are less than half a millimetre in length, and so are hard to see with the naked eye.
  • The human immune system can "recognise" the mites and produces antibodies in response. This can trigger an allergic reaction.
  • House dust mites live in accumulations of fiber and dirt known as bunnies.
  • Regular cleaning of your home is an effective way to control these mites.

7 Money-Saving Dusting Tips

Most people learn how to keep their home fresh and clean from their parents, and other family members. But old money-saving ways of keeping a house dust-free are being forgotten. Here are some great ideas to help you save money, and keep your home hygienic.

  1. Baby-wipes can be machine washed and then recycled (reused) for dusting. Use a recycled clean baby-wipe to collect dust from your computer keyboard.
  2. Fabric conditioner is designed to stop your clothes clinging together with static. Dampen a dry dusting cloth or rag with a squirt of fabric conditioner to make them anti-static.
  3. Keep your used tumble-dryer conditioner sheets. They make good anti-static dust sheets to clean venetian blinds and to dust your TV.
  4. Another way to clean venetian blinds is to use an old sock as a mitten. Spray some polish onto the sock and with your hand inside, dust down the blind-slats.
  5. Use a clean, dry, empty squirt bottle to squirt air into difficult-to-reach corners. The blast of air will blow the dust out of the crevices.
  6. Use a toothpick dipped in alcohol to remove grime from around the numbers on your phone.
  7. Tie an old pantyhose to a mop stick and poke it behind the fridge and cooker. As you move the pantyhose along the floor, the dust bunnies will stick to the nylon better than to a cotton fiber.

Pro-Cleaning Tips You Should Follow

Can Dust Bunnies Move?

If you think too long about this question, you'll get nightmares! Dust bunnies don't have legs and feet, or any other method of locomotion. So no, they can't move about your home unless they are blown by draughts. Dust bunnies appear to be everywhere because as you move around the house, you shed minuscule particles of skin, and each time you walk tiny bits of dirt fall from your shoes. These are bound together with other bits of dust like spiders' webs, and then they are colonized by dust mites. And so on ad infinitum.

Hoovering Up With a Vacuum Cleaner

Once you've dusted all your knick-knacks, cupboards, tables, and chairs, it’s time to turn on the hoover. There are a huge variety of vacuum cleaners on the market. Use one that has power and collection capacity that matches the size of your home. You also need to think about how heavy the machine is, and your ability to lift it easily.

There are upright domestic vacuum cleaners, which can be heavy, but have excellent suction, or there are smaller and lighter, canister models. There are also stick-like vacuum cleaners which are bag-less and wireless. These are ideal for getting into hard to reach corners.

Some modern homes have a built-in fixed central vacuum system. These operate by a suction tube being plugged into a room wall socket, and the dust is then sucked out-of-sight towards a central collection point.

If your enthusiasm for housework and cleaning ever starts to flag, remember those pesky dust bunnies lurking under the bed, and laughing at you from hidden corners. You want to drive them, and the allergy-inducing dust mites, right out of your home.

How Can I Make My Rooms Less Dusty?

Dust is created by you, your animals, and by general air movement. To keep dust bunnies at bay make sure you do the following.

  • Clean and wipe down surfaces regularly with a damp cloth.
  • Wash bedding weekly in a hot wash.
  • Launder curtains and soft furnishings at least once a year.
  • Keep outdoor shoes outside. Encourage everyone to change into slipper or sneakers when they enter your home.
  • Don't allow your pet to access all areas, and regularly vacuum and wash their bedding.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.