Dyson have some innovative and groundbreaking tools to help you keep your house clean. Image supplied.
For the past two years, we have spent a lot of time in our homes, trying to avoid getting sick – but what if we told you that there are millions, even billions, of tiny little enemies hiding in your home, waiting to give you a serious case of the sneezes?
Dust mites, bacteria, mould, tiny insects and other particles are some of the main contributors to conditions such as hayfever and asthma and we all have billions of them hiding in our homes, just waiting to attack. Most of these harmful allergens go unnoticed because they are naked to the human eye and simple day to day tasks such as fluffing a cushion, opening or closing curtains or laying on our beds can have a negative effect on us.
But it’s not just indoor allergens that we need to worry about in our homes. Even opening a window can let in nasty pollutants, such as pollen. Pollen particles can attach themselves to our clothes and shoes or float in through our open windows or doors and linger in the air of our homes. Pet dander is another common allergen – composed of tiny, microscopic skin particles that are shed by pets with fur or feathers. Along with pollen and dust mites, pet dander can be inhaled and set off an adverse reaction in our bodies.
We are interested in this topic and wanted to find out more about what kinds of allergens are commonly found in our homes and how we can both prevent and banish these unwanted aggravators. So we had a chat with the best of the best when it comes to healthy homes.
Dyson has long been hailed for its innovative and groundbreaking tools to help you keep your house clean, so it was only fitting that we went to them for advice. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Monika Stuczen, Dyson Senior Research Manager, to find out more about common allergens and how we can keep a clean and healthy home.
What are the most common allergens we find in our homes?
Dust is a major source of allergens in many households, easily accumulating on surfaces such as beds, furniture and flooring. Dust contains a complex mix of components including dust mites, bacteria, endotoxins, mould, dust mite faeces, and skin cells. These microscopic particles can have an impact on our health and wellbeing, day to day interactions like sitting down or fluffing a cushion can create movement causing dust particles to become airborne, triggering allergic reactions. Living in the era of the “indoor generation”, we are breathing in more pollutants indoors, that can come from outside when we open the windows or doors, but can also be produced from everyday activities in our home. The bedroom, where we spend approximately one-third of our lives, can be polluted from sources such as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from hair spray and perfume, formaldehyde from foam furniture, dust and allergens from carpets and benzene from scented candles.
What are the most common exacerbators for asthma and hayfever?
Pollen is a primary exacerbating factor for asthma and hayfever sufferers. Pollen particles can easily attach to our clothes and shoes as we go about our day outside, and we take these allergens indoors where they can linger in the air in our homes. In addition to what we are potentially bringing into the home, there is a host of microscopic life that our beloved pets bring in with them that’s invisible to the naked eye. Pet dander is just one of those things. Composed of tiny, microscopic, skin particles shed by pets with fur or feathers. It can be shed onto surfaces or transported through the air in household dust. Once airborne, dander and the dust mites that live on it can be breathed in and trigger allergies. Another important biological component of dust associated with exacerbation of allergy and asthma are endotoxins. They are cell wall components of bacteria that are released when bacteria disintegrates. Studies have shown that exposure to endotoxins in settled household dust is associated with adverse effects on human health.
An air purifier can help eliminate airborne toxins and capture allergens in your home.
How do dust mites work and how dangerous are dust mites?
Invisible to the naked eye, dust mites feed on dead human and animal skin cells that shed naturally, as well as food crumbs throughout our homes. On average, humans shed up to 2 grams of skin cells each day. While dust mites themselves aren’t considered dangerous, the dropping they excrete is the most harmful allergenic contributor. Allergic reactions to dust can and do differ, however it is important to note that the reactions for some people as well as infants can be a trigger to those with respiratory ailments such as asthma, or hayfever sufferers. Positive tests for dust allergies are extremely common among people with asthma, types of dermatitis and frequent sinus infections. Studies also suggest that exposure to high levels of dust mites, especially early in life, increases your risk of developing a mite allergy and asthma too.
Are there any other common microscopic bugs we need to look out for in our homes?
Household dust is a complex matrix of components including dust mites, dust mite faeces, bacteria, mould, small insects and particles. Many of these particles are only visible under a microscope and can impact our well-being. The size of dust mite allergens, mould spores and other insect allergens is often between 0.5 to 5 microns – one micron is 1% of the diameter of a single hair. With so many of us spending more time indoors during lockdowns, it is important to think about not just the dirt, but also the invisible dust and particles being brought back into the home. According to the Dyson Global Dust Study, 17% of people globally wear outdoor shoes in and around the home. However, the grooves and cuts on the outsoles of shoes are prime spots for outdoor dirt like soil, mud, and pollen to get trapped in. By wearing the shoes worn outdoors into and around the home, you’re potentially depositing dirt , and by extension all the germs and bacteria that can be found on these particles, into your home.
What are the best preventative methods for keeping your home free from allergens?
Dust mites love dark, warm conditions, and they tend to accumulate more in these kinds of environments. Using an air purifier with a HEPA filter is a good preventative measure to maintain a clean environment and mitigate the environmental factors that dust mites thrive in. A high-performing purifier will help eliminate airborne toxins and capture allergens such as pollen that can travel into our homes when windows are open. There’s no practical way to reduce how much microbial matter we carry with us indoors, regular cleaning and vacuuming flooring and upholstery is vital to maintain low levels of moulds and bacteria, reducing the bioburden in our homes and promoting our general wellbeing. Managing the amount of skin and debris deposited in our homes is important, as this is what dust mites feed on. While it won’t completely eliminate them, thorough dusting and frequent vacuuming is an effective way to reduce potential allergens such as dust mites and pollen in the home. Ensure common areas where dust tends to gather the most aren’t missed, such as skirting boards, curtains, soft furnishings and pet beds.
What are some tips for getting rid of in-home allergens?
The Dyson Global Dust Study found there were many spots in peoples’ homes that they neglected to clean including ceilings, skirting boards and walls, pet beds, shelves, lampshades and light fittings, curtains, stairs and showers. 1 in 3 people clean only when they spot visible dust on their floors. However, fine dust is invisible to the naked eye and collects in most places in the home – areas we don’t even think about cleaning. Dyson Global Dust Study’s found that just over 3 in 4 people do not clean their mattresses and 9 in 10 do not clean their curtains or blinds. Mattresses and sofas can also be breeding grounds for house dust mites, who thrive in warm, dark and humid places like our beds. Don’t forget about soft furnishings too. While you may not be able to see the dust in your mattress, sofa, carpets or curtains, it’s important that you vacuum them regularly to reduce the amount of dust and associated allergens in your home.
Fine dust is invisible to the naked eye but not to an air purifier.
These are some of Dyson’s top tips for keeping a healthy home:
– On a regular basis, vacuum both sides of the mattress with a vacuum cleaner with advanced filtration to prevent the allergen from being placed back into the room by exhaust air. Wash bedding on a hot wash to destroy allergens. Washing bedding and upholstery (if possible) on a 60°C or 90°C wash will help to break down allergen (proteins) and reduce the amount to cause allergies.
– Remove dust from kitchen cupboard tops. This is an often-overlooked place that dust collects and through air movement can be displaced into the kitchen air. Either remove with a vacuum with an advanced filtration system or by dusting with a clean damp cloth or cleaning wipes.
– Vacuum your home after dusting so that any dust that has been disturbed and placed onto the floor is removed and not redistributed around the home by normal activity.
– Move furniture that can be moved and vacuum the places not often vacuumed, such as under the furniture.
– Clear kitchen sides and cupboards to deep clean. Use a vacuum with advanced filtration to remove dust and debris then wash with warm water and detergent – make sure you follow up by drying all surfaces.
– Deep clean cupboards, wardrobes, and drawers in the bedroom. This is a place rarely emptied and cleaned but dust and fibres can accumulate in the very place you keep your clean clothes. Dust mites can live anywhere there is a source of food, so wherever there is dust there is the possibility of dust mites.
What products would you recommend to help keep the air in your home clean?
A good air purifier should sense allergens and airborne pollutants in the home, capture even the smallest particles and eliminate them to protect the health and wellbeing of your family. Dyson’s purification technologies are engineered for year-round use, heating spaces in colder months and cooling you down in summer, while continuously purifying the air in the whole room. Dyson has engineered the whole machine to meet HEPA H13 standard, capturing 99.95% of particles as small as 0.1 microns such as allergens, bacteria, pollen and mould spores. Dyson engineers have also engineered the machine airflow pathways to achieve sealed HEPA 13 standard filtration – not only ensuring that no air bypasses the filter but blocking any potential leak points through which dirty air might enter the airflow.
What product would you recommend to help keep surfaces in your home free from allergens?
At Dyson, we focus our efforts on developing vacuums that pick up dust from surfaces, have cyclones that are incredibly efficient and advanced filters and seals that prevent dirty air from being expelled back into the home. We spend a lot of time developing our filters and seals to make sure that we capture not only the dust you can see but also the dust you can’t. We also want to make sure that the air being expelled from the vacuum is clean – in fact, Dyson machines can capture 99.97% particles as small as 0.3 microns. For context, the diameter of a human hair is around 50 microns. The Dyson V15 Detect cordless vacuum cleaner has been engineered with laser detect technology, which sensors particles invisible to the human eye and gives you peace of mind that you’re getting the deepest clean as you vacuum. The clever range of tools that accompany your Dyson machine makes it easy to pick up dust from delicate or hard to reach places, like your blinds, corners, car or mattress. Solving the dreaded problem of hair getting wrapped around the brush bar, Dyson introduced a new anti-tangle hair tool with a conical brush bar that spirals hair off and into the bin.