This page deals primarily with managing dust and dirt inside the home, regardless of its source. For controlling the proliferation of animals that create or contribute to a home’s dust problem, see also Cockroaches and Dust Mites.

Health Impacts

Exposure to dust inside homes can have adverse health outcomes, such as respiratory problems, asthma, allergic reactions, and lead poisoning (if the dust contains lead). Dust comes from two sources. First, dirt and dust can be carried in from outside on shoes or blown in through windows and doors. Second, there are indoor sources of dust, particularly dust mites.

Reducing Exposure

While it is impossible to have a dust-free home, it is possible to live in a home that minimizes dust that is carried in from the outside and to avoid conditions that can promote allergens in dust.

  • Keep dust out. Because nearly two thirds of the dust in our homes is tracked in from outdoors, one key strategy is to build and maintain homes that help occupants track off dust before it is carried inside. Simple steps such as using a mat at the entryway of a home, building steps or using grates to scrape dirt from shoes, and encouraging residents to remove shoes inside will all make a difference.
  • Using effective filters in the heating system will also reduce the allergens and contaminants entering the building or home.
  • Use materials that are easy to clean. Dust is easily removed from smooth and cleanable surfaces (smooth flooring such as wood, tile, linoleum, and vinyl) through vacuuming and mopping.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with high-filtration features (high efficiency or HEPA filter).
  • Carpets are generally more difficult to vacuum effectively than hard surfaces; but among carpets, short- and closed-loop-pile carpets (such as commercial grade carpet) are typically easier to clean than loose-pile carpets, which allow dust and dirt to fall through to the underlying material.
  • Keep dust mites under control. Dust mites contribute to dust problems, so taking precautions against them can also help reduce exposure.

Dust Resources

Asthma No Attacks Hotline: 1.866.NO ATTACKS (1.866.662.8822)

Su Familia (Your Family) Helpline
The National Alliance for Hispanic Health sponsors this toll-free helpline (1-866-SU FAMILIA or 1-866-783-2645) to offer Hispanic consumers free, reliable, and confidential health information in Spanish and English and help navigate callers through the healthcare system.  |  En español: La National Alliance for Hispanic Health (Alianza Nacional para la Salud de los Hispanos) patrocina esta línea de ayuda gratuita (1-866-SU FAMILIA o 1-866-783-2645) para ofrecer a los consumidores hispanos información de salud gratuita, confiable y confidencial en español e inglés y ayudar a las personas que llaman sistema de cuidado de la salud.