Housework:  PracticalDad Notes on Dusting and Vacuuming

As mundane and mind-numbing as they are, dusting and vacuuming are two of the cornerstones of keeping the house in livable shape.  So wrap your head around the idea that these tasks will be regular parts of the the routine that keeps the household in decent order and diminishes the likelilhood of respiratory problems.

Why Dust and Vacuum At All?

Yeah, the old stereotype is that the housewife did these jobs in order to keep the house spic and span and presentable for the Ladies Book Club.  But she was also doing it to keep the dust levels and animal hair under control.  And let’s face it, if you have kids, you probably have a dog, cat, hamster, mouse, rat or ferret.  The PracticalDad household has the first three and I’m standing pat on the remainder.

What exactly is dust?  It’s not just one particular thing, but a mess of multiple components gathered together.

  • Tiny bits of human skin that is constantly being sloughed off as it dies and is replaced by new skin cells.
  • Tiny bits of hair and follicular materials.
  • The bodies of dust mites and desiccated feces of those same microscopic creatures.
  • Pollen.
  • Mold and fungus spores.

There has been a marked rise in the incidence rate of asthma among children between the ages of five and seventeen, reaching a level of 106 cases per 1000 kids in that age range.  This is spurred by a number of causes.

  • Air pollution.
  • The more enclosed nature of modern homes with central air and less frequently opened windows.
  • Children spending more time inside than before.
  • A greater exposure to vermin in the home.

While children can grow out of this condition as they age, it does create major issues for them and keeping the house clean is a large part of helping protect the kids.

There are also respiratory problems for adults in the form of allergies and a greater prevalence of respiratory illness.

So How Do I Do This?

On one level, it’s simple – you dust and vacuum.  But if you have to do these mind-numbing activities, then you should consider some things to make sure that it’s really worth the time and effort.

  1. Dust first and use a cloth with a dust spray (Endust, for instance) in order to capture the dust particles in the cloth.  By dusting first, you assure that any particles that land on the floor are then caught by the vacuum.
  2. Avoid a featherduster since it only kicks the dust particules into the air, where they’ll then settle back on the furniture.  There’s no sense doing things twice.
  3. A furniture wax should be used to keep the furniture wood moisturized but that should only be done on a more infrequent basis, perhaps once every several months.  Do it too often and the furniture will develop a perceptible wax build-up.
  4. On furniture where the wood is in close proximity to fabric – the arms or legs of chairs for instance – spray the cloth instead of the furniture itself.  The spray then is kept off of the fabric.
  5. While there are innumerable models of vacuum cleaners, make sure that you’re using one that has a HEPA filter to help remove the tiny particles not caught in the vacuum.
  6. Check the bag before vacuuming to make sure that there’s sufficient room for the dirt.  A too-full bag can create a strain on the motor and burn it out.  Full disclosure:  Been there, done that.
  7. Use an extension on the hose to periodically clean along the baseboard, where it meets the carpet.  This is especially important if you have animals that shed.  And what’s the point of having animals if they can’t shed and create more work?
  8. Use the attachments since the manufacturer didn’t include them just to get lost.  The brush attachment can be used on blinds and wood surfaces.  The broad attachment can be used for furniture fabric, drapes and carpeted steps.
  9. Move chairs aside in order to get underneath them and periodically move the sofa as well.
  10. When vacuuming on a hard surface, you might have better luck first sweeping the floor with a broom and then vacuuming up the pile.  The broom allows you to reach into corners and under counters that the vacuum might not be able to reach.

It might seem silly to consider these things, but there have been any number of times that I’ve wanted to bang my head into the wall because of a poor job or goof.  So think of it as saving yourself the job of scrubbing blood off the wall.


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