Here's Why Your House Is So Dusty—and How to Fix It

A weekly vacuum routine is only one way to get rid of that grimy film around your house.

Is your home feeling a little dirtier than usual? Are your allergies acting up? And, are you left wondering why your house seems to accumulate so much dust? While the culprit could be something as simple as leaving the windows open or perhaps road work or construction right outside your door—there are many sources of dust you’re probably not thinking about. Or, maybe dusting frequently falls to the wayside when you do your regular home cleaning tasks. Dusting is an easy chore to forget, but a buildup of dust on surfaces can not only make your home look dirtier, it can affect your overall air quality and well-being, too.

Keep reading to learn more on why your house gets dusty, and what you can do to reduce that unpleasant film around your house.


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Why is my house so dusty?

There are quite a few hidden sources of dust in every home, according to Sonia Cajigal, M.D. A buildup of dust in your home is often the result of poor airflow. A combination of poor airflow and infrequent cleaning can lead dust and dust mites to settle comfortably into several areas in your home.

“Dust mites live in mattresses, pillows, and upholstery,” Dr. Cajigal says. So, if you don’t have allergy encasings for mattresses and pillows, you may want to consider getting them, as they can prevent new dust mites from settling into these areas and irritating those with allergies and asthma.

Shyam Joshi, M.D., chief medical officer for Nectar, says that curtains are another common culprit. You may want to invest in non-textile window treatments, such as shutters or blinds, dry-clean your curtains more frequently, or, at the very least, use machine-washable curtains, which are often budget-friendly.

Carpeting can be another major source of dust. While it may be impossible to eliminate carpeting from your home, especially if you're a renter, having carpets and area rugs cleaned regularly can help.

Then there are those sources of dust no one wants to come to terms with. “Cats, dogs, and other household pets tend to be a major source of dust," Dr. Joshi says. "Keeping them out of areas where dust typically accumulates can reduce dust levels." You also may want to consider bathing your furry friends or sending them to the groomer more frequently.

Keep in mind, all of these efforts, even when combined, won’t get rid of dust and dust mites entirely. However, they can decrease your exposure to them. 

How often should you be dusting?

Remember that dusting doesn't just refer to wiping down dust on hard surfaces. It also includes vacuuming, and washing bed sheets regularly. “Ideally, this should be done on a weekly basis if possible to keep dust and the many allergens it contains at low numbers,” says Dr. Joshi.

While this might sound daunting, you can always space these individual tasks out. For example, you can wash and change out your sheets every Sunday, vacuum every Friday, and wipe down hard surfaces another day of the week.

How to get rid of dust in your house

One easy solution to reduce dust is to vacuum more often. If you’re already vacuuming weekly or more, and your vacuum is in good working order (if not, it’s time to replace it)—you may need to replace or clean the filter. If your vacuum has a dirt cup, it should be emptied after each use to maximize suction.

If your home has major dust issues or you have pets, you might want to think about investing in a robot vacuum. You can even program it to clean daily. Best of all, robot vacuums are great for eliminating dust under large or low pieces of furniture where a standard upright or even a stick vacuum won't always fit.

Another way to get rid of dust is to change the filters in your HVAC system. Whether you have central heat and air or a window unit, if you don’t remember the last time filters were changed, that probably means it's time for a swap. Dr. Cajigal suggests putting in new filters every one to three months.

You may also want to purchase an air purifier to remove dust particles from the air. “Filtration-based air purifiers are a great way to reduce how much dust settles on surfaces and how often you need to clean surfaces,” says Chris Dooley, co-founder of Puraclenz.

Lastly, you simply may need to wipe down hard surfaces to eliminate dust more often. Use a microfiber rag or duster if possible.

How to get rid of dust mites

If you or someone in your household has allergies or asthma, the battle doesn't stop at getting rid of dust. While dust mites themselves are microscopic, their body parts and waste can be a potent allergen to those affected, causing sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, difficulty breathing, and more. Unfortunately, it's pretty much impossible to eliminate dust mites for good, but there are steps you can take to significantly improve the problem. In addition to using allergy-proof bedding and reducing dust buildup, as explained above, frequently washing your bedding on a hot cycle (at least 130 F) can kill dust mites as they come around and rid your bedding of dead skin flakes, which the mites use as food.

All of this can sound a bit daunting, and even gross, but once you've established a regular cleaning routine, it can make a big difference in how dusty your home gets and how you feel in your space.

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