Cleaning Tips: Defeat Dust Bunnies and Mites

Updated on June 13, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

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

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. | Source

What Are Dust Bunnies?

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.

Household Fluff and Dust Mites

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.

Dust and fluff bunnies also provide a habitat for the house dust mite. These 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 excreta 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. | Source

Dust Mite Facts

  • House dust mites are acari, a subclass of arachnids and have eight legs.
  • At less than half a millimetre in length, they are barely visible to the naked eye.
  • The human immune system can "recognise" the mites and produce antibodies in response. This can trigger an allergic reaction.

Information from Gilles San Martin, BBC website

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.

An anti-static microfiber cloth stops dust from clinging to surfaces.
An anti-static microfiber cloth stops dust from clinging to surfaces. | Source

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.

3 Ways to Defeat Dust

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.

7 Expert Cleaning Tips You Should Follow

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.

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.

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.

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    3 months ago from UK

    This reminds me a little of a talk about mites in bedding at a sales pitch for hypoallergenic bedding. It is alarming to realise what small creatures thrive in our houses. I know of friends who are using their enforced time at home to Spring clean.

  • raymondphilippe profile image

    Raymond Philippe 

    3 months ago from The Netherlands

    Thanks for providing these tips. I found that getting rid of some excess stuff in oud house makes cleaning less of a chore.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    3 months ago from Sunny Florida

    You have listed some excellent tips for cleaning. I hate cleaning venetian blinds but appreciate those tips also. Thank you, Beth.

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