A few years ago I opened up one of my ABSOLUTE favorite Christmas presents. It’s one thing I use almost every single day and it was a splurge of a purchase. I’m a lover of practical gifts and it just doesn’t get more practical than a vacuum cleaner. It might seem like a dud, but when my husband got me our Dyson V8 Animal Cord Free HEPA filter vacuum, I was beyond excited to start using it.
While I’m just naturally someone who loves the feeling of a clean house, I also know that removing as much dust as possible without pushing it back into the air is also a matter of health. A post from a few months back had me sharing with you all the toxic stuff that ends up in the dusty corners of our home. And here we are talking about it again.
I guess the reason dust is given so much attention is because it’s a problem that everyone has – constantly. But in the same breath, it’s a problem that we can all correct without spending a fortune. A lot of times getting rid of house dust just boils down to a few key components and habits ….. Which is exactly what I’m going to share with you here.
This post is less about vacuum reviews, and more about HOW to vacuum along with the importance of using a HEPA filter vacuum. But, I’m also going to share with you my favorite picks for HEPA filter vacuums (most I use everyday in my own home).
Getting rid of toxic dust can be SUCH an improvement to our health and wellness, and all it takes is a little bit of knowledge and elbow grease to get started.
TOXINS IN OUR HOUSE DUST
That layer of dust that forms in the corners of your rooms behind doors and furniture is more than just unsightly. Dust is more than just dirt. It contains some of the toxins that can burden our bodies the most because we’re constantly being exposed to them.
Our bodies naturally detoxify, but when we come into contact with toxins on a daily basis, it can become difficult for our systems to keep up. This means that the leftover toxins that haven’t been detoxed by our natural process continue to build up over time, leaving us with negative health effects ranging from hormone disruption to a taxed immune system.
Pesticides: Pesticides enter our home on our shoes as well as through the fine particles that can come loose from furniture, carpet and textiles. Pesticides in dust can be absorbed through our skin, ingested and breathed in when they are pushed into the air.
Pesticides can lead to poor development in children (STUDY), increased risk of cancer, chronic dermal irritation and rashes and immune system deficiencies. (STUDY)
Synthetic Chemicals: Another toxin lurking in our dust comes from the fibers in our textiles, carpet and furniture. These fibers often contain flame retardants and formaldehyde present in them, which are both known carcinogens.
Dust can also contain chemicals from our plastics and vinyls in the form of phthalates, PFCs, as well as phenols that come from our cleaning products. These are endocrine disruptors that affect our natural hormone production and reproductive system and process.
Bacteria: Not all bacteria is bad, and I don’t believe in a completely sanitized space. BUT, bacteria entering our home from outdoors can contain Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species as well as fungal strains of microbes as stated by the BMC Microbiology 2008 Study.
If you have kids, especially, this is something you want to reduce in your home. Children not only play in closer proximity to the floor for a longer period of time, but they also have hand to mouth habits that allow them to ingest more dust and dirt than adults. Keeping bacteria out of your home can help reduce illness in children.
Dust Mites: Dust mites aggravate allergies and an allergic response in most individuals. IN fact, even when dust mites are dead, they still aggravate the same symptoms. The real way to eliminate this problem is to get rid of dust mites altogether.
Dust Mites like a humid environment, and so reducing the humidity levels in your home to about 35% – 40% is ideal. You also want to make sure you wash drapery and bedding frequently to eliminate any dust build up in these textiles.
WHY A HEPA FILTER VACUUM IS BEST
If you have any allergy sufferers in your home, a HEPA filter vacuum is an absolute MUST. A HEPA filter will work to remove contaminants and pollutants that are 0.3 microns and larger. Most bacteria and allergen particles range from .2 microns and larger.
So as you can see a vacuum may not remove ALL contaminants, but it will get MUCH closer than a vacuum that doesn’t use a HEPA Filter.
Because vacuuming pushes so many of the contaminants around, they can be pushed back up into the air. The fewer particles that are able to be caught by the vacuum not only end up back on your floor, but they end up in the air for a period of time while you’re vacuuming. This allows you to breathe in the particles, which is the whole problem we’re trying to avoid by vacuuming.
TYPES OF HEPA FILTERS IN VACUUMS
First, it’s important to know that not every HEPA filter vacuum is using the same HEPA filter. There are two different kinds of HEPA filters that are in most vacuums, which are slightly different.
True HEPA Filter: A true HEPA filter will remove 99.7% of particles that are .3 microns and larger. (To give you a comparison, a strand of human hair is about 50 microns). A true HEPA filter is generally made of thin fibers (sometimes glass) and contains some sort of activated carbon based material.
HEPA Type Filter: This type of filter is a bit deceiving, because it’s not technically a HEPA filter. A HEPA type filter is completely variable on the size of particles it can remove from the surface.
Classifications: HEPA filters on vacuums are sometimes rated using the first five letters of the alphabet (A-E). This is based on how well they capture the particles and resist airflow for them to escape. A would be the least effective and E would be the most capable of capturing chemical and biological particles.
In Europe, classifications are rated as H11, H12 and H13, which indicate slightly different standards for each.
Sealing: While having a True HEPA filter is the best, if you have a vacuum that doesn’t properly seal in the contaminants and toxins being vacuumed up, it really doesn’t matter. Vacuums should have an incredibly tight seal that doesn’t allow particles to escape out back into the air. Sealing around the actual HEPA filter is best to make sure nothing travels to different areas of the vacuum before emptying the canister.
HOW TO VACUUM PROPERLY
Most of us probably just vacuum like our parents did. Vacuuming is vacuuming, right? Not always, it turns out. Running a vacuum over the floor once a week can get rid of some toxins, but likely we’re missing a large portion of dust and dirt in other areas of the house. Here are some of my best tactics for vacuuming the right way and removing as many toxins as possible from your space.
Routine: I’ll admit that everyday when we leave the house I run our Wyze Robot Vacuum on our main level. It has been the BEST thing in keeping our floors clean and reducing dust in other areas of our house. Until we get another vacuum for other levels, I continue to vacuum those at least once a week.
Running a HEPA filter vacuum at least once a week will help stay on top of dust and dirt that contains toxins. If you have a robot vacuum, I say run it everyday if you can.
Corners: Edges and corners often get missed and to be honest, that’s where the dust and dirt collects the most. Ever so often I get out the Dyson stick vacuum and crevice tool and follow the baseboards around our house. It doesn’t have to be done every week, but certainly once a month or so.
Entryways: Where you enter your home either from the garage or your front door probably collects the most amount of dirt and toxic dust. These are spaces that get vacuumed everyday at our house to ensure that the toxins don’t get tracked through the house.
Cleaning Your Vacuum: In order to maintain the integrity of your HEPA filter vacuum, it’s important to clean it out and replace filters as needed. Some vacuums require new filters and some you can actually clean out and replace. Either way, cleaning the canister, removing hair from the beater bar and cleaning out the filters are a MUST when it comes to vacuum care. A HEPA filter vacuum will work wonders when it’s cleaned out and unclogged from particles and dust.
TOP PICKS FOR HEPA FILTER VACUUMS
Many homes have a variety of different types of vacuums in their home. The one common thing in each vacuum is that they have a filter system and they have a true HEPA filter as the main filter.
These are my picks for the BEST vacuums with HEPA filters:
Full Vacuum: Shark Lift Away: We’ve been using this vacuum for YEARS. It is such a versatile vacuum that works on all sorts of surfaces. I use the liftaway feature when I’m cleaning those baseboards I mentioned before. I also love that this is an incredibly easy vacuum to clean out. Definitely worth the investment here.
Robot Vacuum: Wyze Robot Vacuum: I realize that this could get me a sideways glance as it’s a “smart vacuum”. But to be fair, we run it while we’re gone, so any sort of bluetooth technology isn’t affecting us while we are home.
That being said, this gets used nearly everyday and it traps so much dirt and toxins from our floor regularly. You can adjust the suction to pick up even more. This has been a HUGE game changer in our house.
Stick Vacuum: Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick: We use this EVERY day to vacuum up after meals, our entryway and once a week I vacuum our entire upstairs with this. It’s so nice to have in a pinch for unexpected messes too. This was an investment, but it has paid off in keeping our floors and spaces free from dust and toxins.
Wet/Dry Vacuum: Vacmaster Wet Dry Vacuum: Not many wet/dry vacuums come with HEPA filters, which is likely because you’re picking up larger particles. But when you’re doing a home project that includes find dust and dirt, you want to make sure it’s not getting pushed back into your air. The Vacmaster is great for home projects and keeping around for those bigger messes that you might need it for.
Splurge: Miele Blizzard CX1: Miele is the Cadillac of vacuums if you will. They are reliable and made for a lot of use. Their vacuum boasts of a lifetime filter for their HEPA vacuum and has an ultra sealed canister to ensure that even the finest, tiniest particles are captured. This is a vacuum that you’ll buy once and keep for life, which is why it’s price reflects the investment.
Budget: Hoover WindTunnel: IN a pinch and you need a more affordable vacuum but still want a true HEPA filter? The Hoover Windtunnel is a great option. It may not have all the bells and whistles that some of the other vacuums have, but it gets the job done and removes dust and toxins from your floors in an efficient way.
Next time you’re in the market for a new vacuum, I highly recommend the HEPA filter vacuum options listed above. Not only will they reduce particles and contaminants, they’ll help you create a healthier home with little effort.