What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dusting Solutions

One of the selling features of our new home was hard flooring throughout.  It certainly makes you appreciate exactly how much gunk was hiding in our carpeting.  Dust is a mixture of dirt and soil coming in through window screens, pet dander, human hair and sloughed off dried skin, dust mite carcasses and feces, and so much more.  When this gets into your carpeting it is bad enough but carpeting also harbours the proliferation of dust mites compounding the problem.  Dust can give your house that 'old' smell, or just an off smell that says your house isn't clean.

Dusting is a bit more complex than simply dusting.  Many can get away with dry dusting but if you have allergies or asthma, you really need to damp dust without using an aerosol spray.  Damp dusting picks up the dust without allowing it back into the air.  Static cloths and microfibre dusting pads are a must especially if you have allergies or asthma.  They work well without any sprays  allowing you to dispose of the dust easily.  Contrary to many beliefs, dust does not just accumulate on horizontal surfaces.  Every surface in your home accumulates dust including surfaces you wouldn't normally think of like light bulbs and clothes in your closet. Walls should be routinely dusted and if you don't think walls accumulate dust just run a static cloth over a couple to see exactly what is on your walls.

The thing is if you have no carpets you will notice more dust.  That is just the nature of the beast but at least you are seeing the dust and can deal with it than if the dust were hiding in your carpet.  Put an air cleaner on your furnace along with good filters then set about dust control duty.  If you have allergies or asthma, you already know how important it is to get this dust out of your home. Here are a few tools I use and tips for achieving that goal:

  • wet dusting - Wet dusting does not put the dust back into the air where it can get into your lungs.  A light solution of Murphy's Oil soap is suitable for most wood, wood veneers and pseudo-wood surfaces including laminate flooring.  Just dip your 100% cotton cloth into the solution, wring it out and use it for dusting.  Repeat if needed.  This does a wonderful job not only of dusting but cleaning at the same time.  I make up a Murphy's Oil solution then pour it into a spray bottle for quick touch up cleaning.  
  • wands - Many of the dry dusting methods require using some type of wands.  The most common is Swiffer but there are other brands.  Our local dollar store carries the generic long wands for $2 meaning you can easily have a couple at a considerably less price than the brand name and trust me they work just as well as the brand name for a lot less money.  You will want a couple of the longer wands and at least one short dusting wand (dollar store find with pad $1.50).  The head should be designed to use the static cloths (eg. have teeth grabbers) and the reusable dusting pads.
  • microfibre cloths, pads and slippers - I honestly can't say enough about these.  They are a reusable dusting mop pad that goes onto a wand much the same as a Swiffer wand.  They work whether wet or dry and are machine washable.  Surprisingly, our local dollar store is the best place to buy them at $2 each so I have a few.  I am rather partial to the larger loop style but the fine loop style is available as well.  Walmart is now carry the large loop microfibre slippers so you essentially are dusting as you walk about.  I haven't tried them yet but at $7 per pair, I am planning to.  Basically with the slippers you are dusting your floors as you walk about eliminating the need for separate dusting.  
  • static cloths - By far the most popular brand is Swiffer and the cheapest place to buy them is Sam's Club.  Static cloths are highly recommended by allergists because they pick up the dust easily without chemicals then with a toss it is out of the house.  A couple of years ago Swiffer started adding scents to their cloths so be aware of that which is one reason I now prefer microfibre cloths over Swiffer.  Also weighing against the static cloths is they are disposable meaning you are continuously spending just to rid you home of dust.  However, and especially when first trying to get allergies and asthma under control, the static cloths are a must for some applications.  Avoid any static cloth that has any kind of scent.  
  • hand held steam cleaner - Dust tends to get into lots of nooks and crannies.  It can combine with moisture to create gunk for lack of a better word but not a lot of gunk just a thin layer that can harbor mold spores.  A hand held steam cleaner is a must have for getting rid of this gunk especially in crevices.  Not only does it get rid of the gunk it sanitizes, killing any mold or bacteria present.
  • vacuum cleaning - Allergists will stress using a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner as one of the best ways of controlling allergens in your home.  I've tried several models of HEPA filter upright vacuum machines plus a canister vacuum before installing a central vacuum system in this house.  By far, the central vacuum is the way to go and you can actually have it exhaust to the outside meaning nothing from the exhaust comes back into your house!  We did that three houses ago when we had central vac but so far have not vented outside for the new install in this house.  Vacuuming is not just for floors either.  It can be used for so much more like around your windows, horizontal surfaces, blinds, walls and more.  If you have upholstered furniture use the vacuum on that to reduce dust mites, and other dust.
  • the dryer - The dryer set on air only is ideal for removing dust from pillows, stuffed animals and other textiles.  If there is a concern over dust mites as there may be with throw pillows or stuffed animals, put them in the freezer for an hour then run them through the dryer on air setting.  The freezer will kill off any dust mites present and the dryer will remove their carcasses along with any dust mite feces.