Opinion by Karen Hall
Vacuuming is not just about making the house look clean — there are plenty of other unseen nasties that vacuuming can eliminate. Sharing these thoughts with retail customers might help convince them on the importance of spring cleaning!
1. Bed bugs bite
While you lie in bed ‘snug as a bug’ you’re closer to the truth than you might think. Warm, humid conditions make the perfect breeding ground for dust mites, and as you shed skin cells on your bedclothes you’re providing lots of food for the little critters. Vacuum your mattress regularly; use a mattress tool for maximum effect to get rid of those nasty mites.
2. Carpet crawlies
Carpets are the perfect hiding place for dust mites, where they cling deeply in the fibres. Vacuum at least once a week to reduce the number of dust mites and to remove their food source.
3. Cuddly toys
Stuffed toys are a favourite hiding place for dust mites. Once a month, place them in a plastic bag in the freezer for 12 hours. Dust mites hate the cold. Then leave toys to thaw naturally, this will kill adult dust mites and stop them breeding.
4. Curtain and blind care
Curtains and blinds harbour dust and pollen, so clean them regularly using an upholstery tool or soft dusting brush attached to the wand of your vacuum cleaner.
5. ‘Intensive’ vacuuming
Practise ‘intensive’ vacuuming by making repeated passes over flooring, particularly near the bed. Dust mites and their faeces can be shaken loose when throwing back the covers and transferred to the carpet.
6. Mix it up
Most houses today have a variety of floor types, from carpets to tiles to wooden flooring. Remember to turn the brush bar of your vacuum cleaner off on hard flooring and delicate rugs. As you move from room to room, adapt the brush bar to each floor type.
7. Snug in a rug
Rugs collect a lot of dust, skin-cells and dirt. People can lose up to 28g of skin a week — that’s the equivalent of a bag of chips — a dust mite’s paradise. Don’t let dust mites get comfortable in your home. Shake rugs outside to get rid of dust and dirt and then vacuum thoroughly to make sure you remove the dust mites and their droppings. Remember to take care when vacuuming delicate rugs. Ensure that the brush bar is switched off and use the escape valve to reduce suction.
With the rest of your house clean as a whistle, don’t neglect your stairs. Dust, dirt, hair and fibres collect on these well-walked areas. A stair tool, attached to your vacuum cleaner, is perfect for getting into all those nooks and crannies.
9. Keyboard fluff
Is your computer keyboard gathering dust? This may not be as harmless as it looks. Keyboards can harbour as much bacteria as your toilet seat. Detach the wand from the vacuum and use it as a hand held vacuum cleaner. To disinfect, spray a light mixture of eucalyptus oil and water onto the keyboard and wipe gently (do this while machine is switched off at the plug). It will also clear your nose and help you breathe more easily.
Karen Hall is a UK-based microbiologist at Dyson.