Trying to figure out why your dust mite allergy keeps getting triggered? We asked industry experts for tips on keeping a dust-free home, as well as the most neglected areas in a home that you might have overlooked when vacuuming
Additional reporting by Hong Xinying
Amid a global pandemic, the cleanliness of our homes has taken precedence more than ever. What was once a mundane checklist of household chores has turned into a periodic schedule of cleaning and disinfecting to make our homes safe and healthy spaces to live in. Vacuuming is one of the fastest and often easiest ways to keep your home dust-free; regularly cleaning with a vacuum can also help minimise the growth of bacteria, germs, and dust mites.
From the most neglected areas in the house to the various types of vacuums on the market, these experts in the field share valuable advice for reducing the amount of dust at home.
1. Create an everyday routine
To keep harmful allergens and dust mites at bay, it’s best to stick to a regular schedule when it comes to vacuuming. “Dust electrostatically ‘sticks’ to hard floors and the longer it sits on the floor, the more effort is required to dislodge it off the surface,” explains Dennis Matthews, Dyson’s research scientist in microbiology. “Cleaning regularly makes it easier to remove dust, which applies to the whole house and not just your floors.”
Jacqueline Toh, head of digital appliances at Samsung Electronics Singapore, recommends taking advantage of a robot vacuum’s features by setting it to clean daily at a certain time. “To simplify your cleaning experience, set up ‘no-go zones' around areas that might contain fragile items, or where disturbances are not preferred. Once this is established, you’ll only need a few taps on your smartphone to start the cleaning process. Pre-setting your cleaning schedule will give you a greater peace of mind.”
2. Choose a vacuum based on your cleaning habits
Every vacuum is made differently. “There are many different types of vacuums on the market,” explains Jason Ang, product executive at Bosch. “To choose the right vacuum, consider the needs of the particular household in terms of the area of the house and frequency of vacuuming.”
Handheld vacuums, for example, are popular for their cordless convenience. Vacuums such as appliances giant Dyson’s most recent release, the Dyson Micro 1.5kg, are designed to be lightweight and convenient for daily cleaning. The slim package still packs a punch; it’s engineered to not compromise on its efficient filtration capabilities even in its lighter form.
Canister vacuums, on the other hand, are the most commonly found vacuums owing to their thoroughness and reliability. There are typically two options: bagged or bagless. While bagless vacuums reduce waste and eliminate the need to purchase bags, bagged vacuums are recommended for allergy sufferers.
“Bagged vacuum cleaners such as Bosch’s GL-30 ProEnergy minimise contact with debris and dust,” says Ang. “The bag can be removed and disposed of without leaving behind a mess. The washable HEPA hygienic filters ensure the elimination of 99.9 percent of dirt.”
3. Robot vacuums clean just as well
In recent years, robot vacuums have also debuted in the market. These innovative appliances have been rising in popularity, owing to their sleek convenience.
“As consumers are staying home more often and are more acutely aware of maintaining hygiene and cleanliness, having a robot vacuum that automatically completes day-to-day cleaning on its own is welcomed,” says Toh. “With more accurate mapping, navigation systems, and smart features made available, robot vacuums have also fast become a reliable help to aid their busy lifestyles.”
These nifty vacuums are often preconceived as not being able to clean as thoroughly or as expansively as their other counterparts, but Toh sets these misconceptions straight.
“While robot vacuums equipped with older navigation and mapping technology such as gyro mapping or camera sensors might have less accurate mapping resulting in ‘bumpy’ cleaning, newer robot vacuums have been designed to ensure that the device is able to map its surroundings precisely,” explains Toh.
“Samsung's Jet Bot+ with Clean Station is equipped with a LiDAR sensor (the same technology used in autonomous self-driving vehicles) that gives precise spatial information by repeatedly scanning the room to gather distance information. This allows it to move around more efficiently and cover more of your home, with minimal blind spots.”
4. Vacuum before you mop
Tempted to skip the vacuuming step and head straight into mopping? You’re likely to create an environment that is favourable to dust mites and mould proliferation. “With mopping, you use disinfectant to clean. You are not trying to remove germs but rather you are trying to kill them,” explains Sharon Yap, head of technology development at Dyson.
“The combination of mopping to kill germs and suction to remove fine dust are two very different jobs. They need to work in unison to achieve that barefoot clean feel. You really must ensure you are vacuuming properly, with the most effective technology to try to remove all of that dust is removed before reaching for the mop.”
5. The most neglected spots in the house
While high-traffic areas such as the living room and the kitchen are typical cleaning spots when it comes to vacuuming, it’s the often forgotten nook and crannies that contain the most germs. Matthews shares that several of the neglected crevices that people tend to overlook include the ceiling, walls, and mattresses.
“With most household dust being microscopic in size, it is important to remove the invisible dust from the corners of our home that we often overlook in order to keep our homes healthier," says the Dyson research scientist.
As these hard-to-reach areas can be difficult to clean, a vacuum cleaner with a versatile omni-directional head is an ideal choice. Dyson’s Omni-glide vacuum is engineered to glide in all directions, allowing for effortless cleaning when it comes to the tough spaces between and underneath furniture.
The flexible vacuum features a compact maneuverable head with an in-line format, allowing the device to easily adjust to tight corners and crannies without compromising its suction capabilities.
6. Don't forget to vacuum your sofa
When it comes to upholstery and soft furnishings, Ang cites areas such as curtains, mattresses, and sofas as places that should be vacuumed on a regular basis. These objects and areas can easily form a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
When vacuuming fabrics, use the upholstery attachment to gently but efficiently remove any hair, dirt, and other loose debris. For textiles with sequins and beads, make sure to go slow to prevent damage. It is also recommended to launder removable upholstery fabrics such as bedding, curtains and sofa covers to help effectively eliminate dirt and bacteria.
7. Other tips for pet owners
As a dog owner himself, Dyson senior mechanical engineer James McCrea is all too familiar with the realities of living with pet fur at home. He recommends vacuuming slowly and going over areas multiple times in alternating directions. This helps to loosen any embedded fur and pick up loose strands of pet hair.
“Like dust, pet hair and dander can become airborne when disturbed and fall onto lower surfaces, so start cleaning up high and finish on your floors,” says McCrea. “Don’t miss out on your sofa or armchairs if your pets spend time there. Soft furnishings can hold pet hair as well as pet dander, dust mites and other allergens.”
See also: How to Design a Pet-Friendly Living Room