Why Do Dust Bunnies Happen?

Kelsey Mulvey

Better yet, how can you get rid of them for good?

Picture this: Your home is finally tidied up to perfection. All your loose papers and mail are meticulously organized and stored. Your laundry has been folded to perfection, with not even a stray sock in sight. And your kitchen countertops are crumb-free and not covered in lime juice and coffee spills. Then you spot it, lurking in the corner of the room.

No, I’m not talking about an uninvited mouse or pesky cockroach; I’m talking about those large, fluffy dust bunnies.

Chaotic clusters are inevitable in every home, but have you ever noticed that dust bunnies are more common in some spaces than others? Dust bunnies were never a problem when I lived in a studio apartment in Manhattan. Whether I was traveling or busy with work, I would go weeks without vacuuming my space and rarely spotted dust bunnies. But once I moved in with my boyfriend on the West Coast, I was confronted by these small nuisances on a regular basis—and I vacuum the apartment at least once a week.

Turns out, it’s not just my imagination; there’s a reason behind those rampant dust bunnies. So what’s the deal? What’s causing these dust bunnies? Better yet, how can you make dust bunnies disappear? Keep reading for the lesser-known causes—and tips on defeating dust bunnies for good.

RELATED: 6 Dirty, Dusty Places You Only Discover When You Move (But Could Be Cleaning More Often)

Ditch dirty air filters

Before you panic about your home’s dust bunny population, there’s some good news: One of the biggest causes can be easily solved.

“The primary reason dust bunnies occur in some homes or parts of homes more frequently than others is because of the house’s air filters,” says Justin Carpenter, owner of Modern Maids in Dallas, Texas. “As a homeowner, you should frequently check your air filters and clean them if necessary. If it has been unusually long since your last cleaning, this could signal the filters are not doing their job of picking up the particles as they pass by.”

Believe it or not, you don’t have to wait until dust bunnies emerge to replace your air filter. While the frequency is dependent on many different factors—such as whether or not you have pets and what type of filter you have—The Home Depot found that people should change their air filters anywhere from every 30 days to every few months.

Rethink your foot traffic and layout

So that’s it? Case closed? Well, not quite. While your air filters are a major factor, there are other underlying causes of dust bunnies that might be out of your control. According to Abe Navas, general manager of Emily’s Maids in Dallas, Texas, how much time you spend in a room and the space’s overall layout can contribute to your invasion of dust bunnies.

There’s more to those big clumps than small dust particles that stealthily slip through your air filter. As cringe-worthy as it sounds, our skin and hair also shed. You might not be able to quarantine sections of your home, but it is possible to reduce the dust that accumulates.

“Leave your shoes at the entrance; dust comes in your shoes at a high quantity,” Navas says. “If you leave them at the entrance of your home, you reduce the area where it spreads, and cleaning the mess that you could make is much easier in a closed environment.”

As for your room’s layout? Don’t worry, there’s a solution for that, too.

“Don’t leave gaps in your furniture: Here is where dust bunnies are made, and they reproduce pretty fast,” Navas says. Think underneath a bed, behind a door, or in an unoccupied corner. “Try to fill every gap of your furniture with stylish solutions and clean them regularly, because they are critical parts in your home.”

RELATED: 13 Places You’re Forgetting to Dust in Your Home—But Need to ASAP

Change your cleaning habits

While vacuuming your space (after figuring out whether you should dust or vacuum first) on a regular basis will get rid of dust bunnies in the moment, there’s a good chance they’ll only come back with a vengeance sooner rather than later. If you want to get rid of dust bunnies once and for all, you might want to reconsider your cleaning routine.

As blogger and house cleaner Jeneva Aaron puts it, static electricity is ultimately the reason dust particles clump together and form bonafide bunnies. If you want to get rid of dust bunnies, you need to keep static electricity at bay.

“The only way to prevent them is to wash your floor with water on a regular basis,” Aaron says. “A damp cloth won’t just remove dust from the floor, but water prevents static electricity from building up so there won’t be enough of a charge to hold the dust together. This is why we don’t see bust bunnies on the kitchen floor and other areas that get mopped regularly.”

Of course, this tip doesn’t only apply to your floors; it’s equally important to wash your linens.

“Fabric tends to collect skin cells and dust, but once those things fall down, they form dust bunnies on the floor,” Aaron says. “By keeping your fabrics clean, you’ll prevent dust from accumulating around your house.”

Another way to reduce the static electricity in your home? Pick up a dehumidifier, says Dean Davies, cleaning supervisor at Fantastic Services.

“Regulating the humidity can also help you put a stop to dust bunnies forming in your home,” Davies says. “The ideal humidity level you should go for is 40 to 50 percent. Getting a dehumidifier will regulate humidity levels and reduce static, which helps the forming of dust bunnies.”

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