Housekeeping myths that keep your home dirty

A typical six-room home accumulates 40 pounds of dust every year. On average, you spend about 2.5 hours a week cleaning your home. By learning the truth behind these six household cleaning misconceptions, you may save time cleaning and you will be better prepared to make your cleaning efforts more effective.

Myth #1 — A mop and broom are the best tools for cleaning.

Not necessarily. A high-performance vacuum, used correctly, removes more dirt from hard floors than does a mop or broom. In fact, mops and brooms only push dirt around.

What to do: A high-quality vacuum removes dirt from floors and surfaces and captures it in a HEPA filter. As a bonus, vacuuming your hard floors can also cut down on the amount of time it takes to clean them.

Myth #2 — Frequent vacuuming will ruin your carpets.

Actually, the opposite is true. Regular vacuuming will help protect and extend the life of your carpet. That’s because grit and dust is abrasive and will ruin carpet fibers as the carpet is stepped on.

What to do: As a rule of thumb, try to vacuum at least once a week; More is better. Use a high-quality HEPA vacuum cleaner, because low-quality systems simply send dust and dirt back into the air.

Myth #3 — Household dust is primarily composed of dead skin cells.

This common belief is not necessarily true. Household dust is a mix of dirt, pet dander, fabric fibers, pollen, dust mites and their droppings, and a variety of other ingredients including human skin flakes.

About a third of household dust comes from indoor sources. The rest is a mix of outdoor dirt and particles.

What to do: Focus on controlling the sources of dust that have the greatest impact. For example, removing shoes just before or upon entering the household will substantially reduce dirt tracked in from outside.

Myth #4 — Dust mites are only found in pillows and bedding.

False. Dust mites and their droppings can spread throughout the home and trigger allergic reactions or asthma in many people. Hundreds of thousands of them may live in your home’s bedding and pillows. But they also live in carpets, drapery and anywhere else where there is household dust. They thrive wherever they can find their favorite food: dead human skin cells.

What to do: Dust mites thrive in humid conditions, so keep the humidity in your home below 50%. Remember that mites and their droppings can spread throughout the house, so consider steam-cleaning carpets throughout the home whenever possible.

Myth #5 — Tobacco smoke isn’t a household dust problem.

Wrong. Residual nicotine and other toxic chemicals from tobacco smoke settle on room surfaces and, once there, become resistant to normal cleaning. This toxic residue, known as thirdhand smoke, clings to dust, carpets, walls and other surfaces and continues to build up over time.

What to do: The best way to fight thirdhand smoke is to never allow smoking indoors.

Myth #6 — An air cleaner will help reduce household dust.

Not necessarily. It depends on the air cleaner — and many air cleaners (for example, “ionic” air cleaners) don’t remove dust at all. Ionizers electrically charge particles that then stick to walls, TV screens, etc.

What to do: Choose a high-performance air cleaner (such as the #1 rated IQAir HealthPro Plus) to dramatically reduce the amount of dust and particles in the air before it settles and becomes surface dust.

When it comes to good housekeeping, a clean home is a healthy home. By knowing the truth about these six housekeeping myths you will be better prepared to fight dirt and dust wherever you find it.

You may save time cleaning, too. But best of all, the Indoor Air Quality in your home will be substantially improved, and everyone in your home will be healthier year round.