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Breathe easier, cut down indoor dust

What's something that can be found in just about every house around the world? Dust.

While decor ideas may vary, one thing all homes have in common is the presence of dust. Depending on the steps homeowners take, dust can become a nuisance. But it is possible to keep it at bay.

Dust is made of just about everything in a person's environment. Inside the home dust can contain particles of pet dander, skin cells, upholstery fibers, dirt, mold, lichen, bits of wood, insect parts, and many other things. What can be particularly unsavory about dust is its attraction of dust mites, very small parasites that feed on items in the dust, primarily shed human skin cells. It's generally the dust mites that cause dust allergies and not the dust itself.

It can seem like eliminating dust is a losing battle. It is impossible to get rid of dust completely. But there are ways to greatly reduce its presence in the home.

*Use heavy-duty door mats in front of doors used to enter and exit the house. This will trap extra particles tracked in on shoes. Also, take off shoes when entering the home.

*Upgrade filters in an HVAC system to better filter air circulated through the system. Check with a service person for the highest-rated filter that will be compatible with the furnace.

*Reduce the amount of knick-knacks that are on display. These tend to collect dust and can make cleaning challenging.

*Keep the humidity in the home to about 50 percent. This will reduce static electricity, which can make it harder to clean dust from surfaces.

*Use an air purifier in frequently used rooms.

*Seal air leaks that can be a source of extra dust throughout the home.

*Make sure the dryer is properly vented to the outdoors and that the venting is securely connected to the dryer.

*Consider hardwood or tile flooring instead of carpeting, but keep in mind proponents of carpeting admit it can trap dust particles rather than blowing the dust around like on wood floors. The decision is up to homeowners.

*Encase bed pillows and mattresses in special covers if dust allergies are a problem in the bedroom.

*Choose the right vacuum for the job. Carpets require a vacuum with a powerful agitator. Upright vacuums are usually best for carpeting, although some canister vacuums with agitators will work well. When it comes to wood, tile or vinyl flooring, choose a canister vacuum with an agitator that can be turned off).

*Plastic and wood blinds tend to attract less dust and can be hosed off or dusted with a static-charged dusting cloth.

*Brush pets outdoors on a weekly basis.

*Take throw rugs, pillows and mats outdoors and beat the dust out of them.

By taking these steps, a homeowner can reduce the amount of dust in the home and improve indoor air quality.

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