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What are Dust Bunnies?

Dead skin cells from animals can create dust in a home.
A man dusting.
Having a hardwood floor can help prevent dust accumulation.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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Dust bunnies or dustbunnies are balls of material which collect underneath furnishings, where people often have trouble cleaning. A typical dust bunny includes hair, dust, lint, scraps of various fibers, dead skin, and sometimes things like feathers, paper, and small objects which may have become caught up in it. These collections of material are so well known that they even have their own pop culture references, and it is even possible to find guides to the care and feeding of dust bunnies on various websites, poking fun at the idea of them as living organisms.

While some people dismiss dust bunnies as harmless, they can in fact be troublesome. For one thing, they wreak havoc on electronics if they are allowed to accumulate, because they can clog vents, causing the electronics to overheat. They can also clog things like vacuums if they get especially large. Furthermore, they harbor dust mites, which can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems.

Dust bunnies tend to gather under low, heavy furnishings. The height of such furnishings makes it difficult to see under them, thereby obscuring how dirty the floor underneath them is, and making it hard to clean under them as well. The weight makes it challenging to move such furnishings, so only the most dedicated cleaners will shift them to sweep, mop, or vacuum underneath, and even then, the furniture may rarely be moved.

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The substances in dust bunnies are held together through felting, and static electricity. As static charges build up, the piles of debris can even become attracted to each other, creating a sort of super dust bunny that is extremely large. In households with lots of pets or humans with long hair, dust bunnies can get very large and very entangled, making them unpleasant to encounter.

Many people only notice dust bunnies when they move out, or when they replace a piece of furniture, although they may be aware that dust and dirt are probably skulking under large pieces of furniture. Because the debris can cause health problems and hinder the operation of electronics, it's a good idea to make a plan to clean them out on a regular basis; for example, all the furniture in a room could be moved every six months for cleaning. It also possible to find cleaning tools designed for dust bunnies, like wand attachments for vacuums and cleaning rods which can fit under low furnishings.

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Discuss this Article

gregg1956
Post 3

I once used a maid service called Dust Bunnies Maids -- I thought the name was so clever!

FirstViolin
Post 2

My daughter has a severe dust allergy, so we have bi-weekly dust bunnies cleaning days.

Surprisingly, she's really gotten into it. At first she hated it since I would make her help, but I got her this little dusting thing shaped like a bunny (it's called Fred the Dust Bunny; so cute!) and now she loves to help.

She's even got a self-composed dust bunnies song -- I guess it's good she starts liking housework early!

closerfan12
Post 1

I once lived in a house with four long haired dogs, and let me tell you, when we moved out it was like the attack of the dust bunnies.

I had no idea that dust bunnies could even get that big -- I guess that gives me a little more impetus to keep my house clean now though.

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