Dusting and Polishing

Dusting and polishing your home can sometimes seem like an unnecessary chore, perhaps something that is only properly done when visitors come around. However, regular dusting can reduce the offensive articles that cause asthma and other allergies while polishing your furniture can keep the wood healthy, clean, and with a longer lasting shine. As with all types of cleaning, there are ways in which you make keeping your home shiny and dust free a much simpler task.


PolishingAside from the usual spray 'n 'wipe technique with commercial furniture polishes that is applied throughout the house, real wood furniture requires proper polishing to prolong its life and vitality. It is important to maintain the natural moisture in wood to prevent it from drying out prematurely. Too much cleaning can cause build up and require a clean itself. For general maintenance; buff lightly with a damp cloth.

The potential problem with using standard supermarket products on real wood is that it is not always possible to find out what chemicals they contain. Manufacturers do not wish to reveal their ingredients to competitors, and as such consumers are also left none the wiser. There is consequently little way of knowing whether these products are harmful to your furniture, especially if the ingredients are changed without notification.

While aerosols are a convenient way to clean, they do contain solvents which can attack varnishes and lacquers on wood. Particularly avoid polishes containing alcohol or silicone. Often a benign aerosol cleaner is no different to using a damp dust cloth.

A commercial brand polish containing real lemon oil is the best kind, but you can also create polish and nourishing solutions from home ingredients:

The third solution can be used as a spray while the first two should be kept in glass or plastic containers. In each case, the solution should be applied to a soft cloth first and not directly onto the wood. Always wipe with the grain to allow the solution to fully penetrate. If the wood has detail or carvings, use an old soft toothbrush to work into the grooves.

If you find you have applied an excessive amount, sprinkle corn starch onto the sticky residue and clean with a soft cloth. The excess solution will be easily wiped off with the starch.

To remove old polish, pour boiling water onto two tea bags, steep, and leave to cool. Ring a soft cloth out in the tea and then wipe the wood. The tannic acid contained in the tea will clear any dull polish and re-shine it.

To restore dry and ageing wood, rub some petroleum jelly into the grain with your fingers and leave on for some time if necessary. Buff off with a soft cloth.

Polishing alone will not be sufficient to remove heat and water marks from wood surfaces. Allow a small amount of mayonnaise to soak into the stain overnight and then wipe clean and polish as normal.

Never use furniture polish on hardwood floors. TV and PC monitors should be cleaned with a dry cloth only.


DustingDust gathers in every home, and is comprises a collection of dead skin, pollen, dead insect parts and much more beyond. The aim of dusting is remove this unwanted microscopic debris from your home, therefore regular vacuuming in all the places you can reach with a filtration vacuum is recommended.

For accessing hard to reach places, a feather duster is a good tool. Dust cloths are designed for flat and smooth surfaces but by and large the surfaces in your home will be irregular and with plenty of nooks and crannies that gather dust. Brightly coloured cheap feather dusters are not a good choice as they will not work effectively. Lambs wool or ostrich feather are ideal duster materials as ostrich feathers are fine but have a large surface area that hold the dust. They also adapt well to uneven surfaces to whisk dust away. It is inevitable that using an ostrich feather or lambs wool duster will still stir up some dust, but it will generally fall downwards and can be vacuumed up n the next stage of your cleaning.

Microfibre cloths and mitts also collect dust effectively, and as worn as mitts you make sure that you get into the hard to reach corners.

As well as purchasing these items, for an immediate solution there are things that you can grab from around the home. A pair of old socks on the hands can be your dust mitts, as can wet rubber gloves rubbed over upholstery. Sellotape wrapped around your fingers can be dabbed over upholstery for similar results, while old tumble dryer sheets can be used as a dust cloth with equal effectiveness and resulting in a pleasant smell. The simplest method is just to use a damp cloth; this also cleans any slight grime that has gathered.

The key to dusting is to pay attention to the areas that are often missed or ignored as this will prevent dust build up in other areas. Pictures, skirting boards, lightbulbs and lampshades often go un-dusted. A tip for dusting pleated lampshades is to use a clean paint brush of the correct size to slide easily down each pleat.

Dusting wicker furniture can be a trickier issue. A damp cloth may again be effective, or use the vacuum with a brush head attachment. If the wicker is grimy, wash it with a solution of 2 tablespoons of ammonia to about 4 litres of water. A clean paintbrush or toothbrush can be used to access the grooves

A home remedy for a dust repellent spray combines 2 cups of warm water to cup of liquid fabric softener. This can be kept in a spray bottle and used on static surfaces like glass tables and the fridge.

Dust and Allergies

Dust and AllergiesIt is not the dust in our homes that causes us to sneeze, but rather it is the creatures that live within it. Dust mites are microscopic arachnid bugs that breed in furniture, carpets, and upholstery. They feed on our dead skin and food debris that we create. Unpleasantly, it is their droppings to which humans can become allergic.

The presence of dust mites does not indicate an unclean home; dust mites thrive in more humid atmospheres and in higher temperatures. They also prefer a home with more upholstery or carpeting. Therefore, your home is particularly prone to dust mites in the summer, but also in the winter if your central heating is on high and all the doors and windows tightly shut.

If you are allergic to dust mites, it is advisable to install vinyl or hardwood flooring wherever possible in your home. Dust mites struggle to survive on these surfaces, but love carpets and rugs. You should also try to reduce the number of surfaces on which dust can collect, that means opting for a minimalist approach in your home and keeping clothing tidied and shut away in your wardrobe. Avoid upholstery fabrics where possible and try to use wooden or metal furniture.

Clean and vacuum regularly, but wear a filter mask to prevent irritation. When washing upholstery fabrics like curtains or cushion covers, wash them at a high temperature to kill the mites. Low temperature washing will not be effective.

Further advice for reducing dust mite allergies suggests buying a dehumidifier to prevent the mites from thriving in humid conditions. Pets should be banned if possible in case of further allergy, and cuddly toys are a similar allergy threat. However, removing cuddly toys from a small child (or fully grown adult) may seem unreasonable, so ensure that they washed at a high temperature regularly.

Allergies - are we too clean?

The recently developed "hygiene hypothesis" argues that our modern obsession with cleanliness and killing germs to prevent illness and allergy is in fact causing them.

In the last 20 years, the number of people with reported allergies has increased fourfold.

With our rigid attitude to cleaning and war against dirt, humans come into contact with less good bacteria that build our immune systems. Therefore, our bodies are technically weaker when it comes to fighting allergens or infections. In developed countries we spend the vast amount of our time indoors in clean environments and remain largely unexposed to the natural dirt of the outside world. Recent studies have shown that farm children develop fewer allergies than city children, with similar results on children from developing countries compared with developed nations.

Another theory argues that it is not necessarily the cleanliness that causes the increase, but that the products we use could be part of the problem. A huge number of chemicals are introduced into our home and outdoor environments with little testing of the possible effects on humans. Our cleaning products could be part of the problem of increased cases of allergies.

Moreover, indoor air quality has reduced as buildings are more air tight to conserve energy. We are trapped in our home with dust mites and little fresh air, so it is important to air your home regularly if you are dust-sensitive. In addition, our homes our warmer due to the energy conservation and the prevalence of central heating, and as such these are perfect conditions for dust mites to thrive.