Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Dust & Vacuums

I'm in the midst of giving my annual Green Cleaning workshops. eScential Wellness is all about Toxin Free, so, Green Cleaning is a natural extension of what I believe in and practice.

I've been reading and updating articles on cleaning, and, discovered some interesting facts about dust! No matter how fastidious we are, you can't escape it. We generate dust from dead skin, fungi, mold, carpet fiber, pet dander, decomposing insects, food particles and soil from our shoes. Cooking and room fresheners put particles into the air that land on our floors and counters. Dust enters through open windows, and from home furnishings, as well as cleaning products which release chemicals into our inside air. So, vacuum it up, right? Turns out the vacuum is part of the problem.

Home furnishings made before 2005 probably contain many chemicals; including fire retardants that have since been banned in the U.S. (because they had some links to breast cancer.) The Silent Spring Institute released a study that found 66 endocrine disrupting compounds in dust.

Exposure to these have been linked to problems with motor skills, learning, memory, hearing and behavioural changes; especially in developing children. Hormone disruptors have links to cancer, brain dysfunction, memory loss, fatigue and infertility. And that's not a complete list.

So let's vacuum! Unfortunately, one study (in Environmental Science and Technology) looked at 62 different vacuums (all types, sizes, models, some had special filtration systems to prevent particle escape) but, every single one released dust and bacteria back into the home. Vacuuming is not perfect.

How can we make vacuuming more efficient? Here are some tips:

(1) Make sure your vacuum is less than 10 years old. These are more efficient.
(2) Ideally, get one with a HEPA filter, as these are best at capturing, and retaining, dust.
(3) Wash your vacuum filter in a sink full of water, rather than just shaking the dust out of it. It is better cleaned, and, dust does not get back into the household air.
(4) Vacuum your couch and throw cushions. The fabric traps dust and animal dander, and the vacuum can remove these as well as some fire retardant dust (if the furniture was made before 2005.)
(5) Hand dust hard surfaces with a damp rag, as dust will adhere to the cloth and not be just recirculated by being pushed back into the air
(6) Minimize particles brought into the home by placing a doormat both inside and outside the door, and remove shoes on entering your home
(7) Toss the toxic cleaning products and use your own, homemade, bio-safe and eco-friendly products. Recipes are abundant on the internet!