The dust that accumulates on your furniture, floors and knickknacks has nothing to do with poor housekeeping. It’s a natural and continual collection of stuff caused by microscopic dust mites, the breakdown of fibers from household fabrics and furni- ture, and human and animal dander (skin flakes). The average house in the United States collects about 40 pounds of dust each year, says allergist William Ber- ger, author of Asthma and Allergies for Dummies. Dust is a large part of in- door air pollution, mainly because people spend about 90 percent of their time in- doors, says the Environ- mental Protection Agency. And dust can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
While you can’t eradicate dust altogether, there are steps you can take to reduce its accumulation. The first step is getting rid of clutter. Things like books, cloth- ing, and stuffed toys are big collectors of dust. So are pennants and posters kids tack to their walls. Molly Hooven, an EPA spokeswoman, sug- gests concentrating dust-fighting efforts on bedrooms, because you spend about one-third of your time there. Some things you can do:
* Remove extra furniture and any objects that will give dust mites a place to land on.
* Vacuum the bedroom carpet using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Vacuuming can eliminate dust mites that have settled on the floor.
* Clean surfaces such as your vanity, television, side tables and headboards with a damp cloth or a cleaning furniture polish. Close closet doors.
* Wash your bedding. Use 140-degree water to eliminate dust mites.
* Place stuffed animals and fabric items that can’t be machine-washed into plastic bags and freeze, which will eliminate dust mites.