Keeping your home organized with no or a minimal amount of clutter has benefits above and beyond being able to see your floor and find things when you need them. One of the biggest benefits to getting your junk and clutter removed is that you will be healthier.
Many (if not most) people have a little clutter here or there, but when the level of your clutter and junk interferes with your ability to function in your space and to enjoy life, that clutter can become a source of depression and stress, both of which can adversely affect your physical, emotional and mental health.
In addition, clutter or junk is a dust magnet. When you have a lot of junk or clutter it’s almost impossible to clean your space properly and regularly and that also impacts your health.
According to the National Soap and Detergent Association, getting rid of clutter eliminates 40 percent of housework in the average home. As someone who lives a clutter-free life and does their own cleaning, I wholeheartedly agree that it’s MUCH easier to clean and keep household dust to a minimum in a clutter-free space.
Since household dust accounts for the majority of indoor air pollution – a leading environmental health risk due to the fact that most people spend 90% of their time indoors – the more dust there is in your space, the worse it is for your health.
The dust bunnies on your floor and the dust that collects on other surfaces may seem harmless enough, but nothing could be further from the truth, especially if you have allergies or asthma. And even if you don’t have allergies or asthma, it is still advisable to reduce your exposure to household dust as much as you can.
To understand why household dust is unhealthy, you need to understand what household dust is. Household dust is not a single substance but rather a naturally occurring, continually forming mixture of many diverse materials.
According to a 2010 article in Time magazine, “The specific dust mix in any household differs according to climate, age of the house and the number of people who live in it – not to mention the occupants’ cooking, cleaning and smoking habits. But nearly everywhere, dust consists of some combination of shed bits of human skin, animal fur, decomposing insects, food debris, lint and organic fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics, tracked-in soil, soot, particulate matter from smoking and cooking, and, disturbingly, lead, arsenic and even DDT…. Dust is a hodgepodge of all sorts of things. It would probably be impossible to make a list of all the possible items.”
While it might be impossible to list all of the items that can make up household dust, one of its known, major components is the feces of dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic, eight-legged creatures that thrive in warm, humid environments and can be found indoors wherever people are.
Dust mites are not parasitic, however. They don’t live on humans and they don’t bite. They reside – by the thousands – in mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and even stuffed toys. Their primary food is dead human skin cells. An average human adult can shed up to 1.5 grams of skin a day, enough to feed 1 million dust mites(!), and, over the course of its life, a single dust mite can produce as much as 200 times its body weight in waste matter.
Once excreted by the dust mite, its waste matter sits on floors and other surfaces until disturbed. Unfortunately for your health, virtually any activity of daily life you perform in your space – walking, showering, brushing your teeth, dressing, eating, talking on the phone, etc. – will disturb that waste matter. Once disturbed, it becomes temporarily airborne for a period of time and is then easily inhaled by people.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the reason why inhaling it is unhealthy is that “dust mite waste contains a protein that is an allergen – a substance that provokes an allergic immune reaction – for many people.”
Typical symptoms of dust mite allergies are itchiness; sneezing; runny nose; nasal stuffiness; stuffy ears; itchy, watering and/or reddening eyes; clogging in the lungs/respiratory problems; inflamed or infected eczema skin and (in severe cases) asthma.
No home will ever be completely dust or dust mite free. Even if you go away for weeks and leave your home closed up tight, when you return there will still be dust and there will still be dust mites, but keeping your home as free of dust – and its unhealthy components – as possible can lessen the ill effects of dust mites and other allergens contained in dust like cockroach droppings, cat and dog dander, mold spores and pollen.
The best ways to reduce the amount of dust in your home are getting rid of your excess junk and clutter and cleaning your space regularly.
The trick to getting rid of your clutter is finding a way to start. Decluttering can seem overwhelming, especially if there’s clutter everywhere you look. Begin by making a list of your specific problem areas and writing down a start date and time in your planner/calendar so you have a date certain on which the decluttering will commence. Book a helpful junk removal service like JunkXS to come in and remove all the clutter and junk you don’t want in one go.
Start with the easiest or most annoying task or start small so you can enjoy the gratifying, immediate, visible results of your work or organize one room at a time so you can see the progress you’re making and be inspired by it to keep moving forward towards your goal. Reward yourself for a job well done when you’re finished and be sure to maintain whatever decluttering and organization you’ve put in place.