In the memory of John Roberts, a pioneer in this field

Vacuuming is not just for keeping up appearances!  It’s actually an easy way to reduce unnecessary chemical exposure and common allergens in your home. Household dust contains many ingredients – some you’d expect, like pet dander, tracked-in soil, and dust mites. However, industrial chemicals like flame retardants, pesticides and heavy metals are also lurking in dust bunnies. The most efficient way to reduce these contaminants is with a well-maintained HEPA filter vacuum.  A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter makes sure the tiniest particles get caught and don’t flow out of the vacuum’s exhaust system back into your indoor air.

Even with all the great reasons to vacuum, it’s still a chore – so remember to take advantage of ways to lessen the amount of dirt and dust that gets into your house in the first place! Use doormats at all entrances and encourage family and guests to remove shoes at the door.

Think of your vacuum as a healthy home’s secret weapon – in one swoop you can suck up a variety of unwanted chemicals. Let’s highlight the basics so you get the best results with this powerful tool:

  • Use a vacuum with a strong suction, rotating brushes (for carpet), and a HEPA filter. HEPA bags are available to increase filtration performance for some models that don’t come with HEPA filters.
  • Bagless vacuums are less effective in reducing your exposure to dust since you are exposed while emptying the bin.
  • Vacuum frequently, a minimum of 1x/week.  Vacuuming regularly helps keep the dust from getting deeper into your carpets.  On high-traffic areas, vacuum back and forth over the same spot to loosen and remove more dust.
  • Vacuuming is not just for carpets and rugs – vacuum hardwoods too! Sweeping pushes dust around instead of removing it.
  • To thoroughly clean area rugs, flip them over and vacuum the backside too.  This loosens deep dust.  Don’t forget to vacuum the floor underneath the rug.
  • With the right attachment, your vacuum can be used on upholstered furniture to minimize dust from flame-retardant treated foam.
  • If you suffer from dust allergies, use a dust mask when vacuuming or have someone else do the cleaning.

Supplement your vacuuming with damp dusting, using a moist micro-fiber cloth or mop to effectively remove dust from surfaces.

Additional resources on how to clean floors and carpets safely, including details on steam cleaning:

http://healthychild.org/live-healthy/checklist/clean_carpets_without_dangerous_chemicals

http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/easy_tips_for_green_cleaning_carpets_floors/

More information on toxins in household dust:

http://www.ewg.org/healthyhometips/toxicchemicalsinhousedust

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