The health benefits of using a HEPA vacuum

For people with asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems, keeping the air inside your house clean is a never-ending task. Dust mites, stray allergens and other irritants can make your home feel like a battleground. But having the right tools by your side can save you from hours of cleaning frustration. Enter the HEPA vacuum.

To understand the health benefits of a HEPA vacuum cleaner, you need to understand what HEPA stands for. HEPA is an acronym. It stands for high efficiency particulate air filter. A HEPA filter traps very small dust and allergen particles, whereas a vacuum without a HEPA ends up just recirculating those tiny particles in the air. The U.S. Department of Energy sets the standards for a filter to be considered a HEPA filter. According to those standards, a filter must remove from the air that passes through the filter 99.97 percent of all particles larger than .3 micrometres. To put that in perspective, the average human hair is 100 micrometers wide. Take a look at a HEPA filter. Look at all the layers and the curvy contours. The allergens end up trapped in the various layers of those fibers.

Removes dust and more

HEPA filters force air through a fine mesh. That mesh traps particles that can cause health problems in those with lung diseases, such as asthma. Those harmful particles include pollen, pet danger, dust mites and even tobacco smoke. In fact, HEPA vacuums remove most airborne particles, nothing to sneeze at when you have serious allergies. Allergy sufferers can also get a backup from other tools in their arsenal to attack allergens. Some Maytag appliances, for example, have an allergen-removal wash cycle to help trapping troublesome particles.

Finding the best HEPA vacuum

Some of the things to look for when it comes to HEPA vacuum cleaners include a certified HEPA filter, tools you can store on the vacuum, powerful suction, suction control, a dust bag change indicator and automatic dust bag sealing. When it comes to power, you want a twin-fan motor. It will suck up much more dirt and allergies than a single fan motor. Power is measured in airflow. Look at the cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CFM number, the better. Although you want a HEPA filter vacuum with a lot of suction, you also need suction control. Otherwise, you'll do damage to drapes and other delicate materials when vacuuming. Purchase a bagged canister vacuum, not only for ease of use but also to reduce exposure to allergens. Also for ease of use, look for one with a self-storing retractable cord. A long cord will allow you to go farther without having to find a different outlet.

Keep it clean

Some HEPA filters for vacuums are washable. In general, though, wear a mask and put on rubber gloves so you don't come into contact with the allergens. Remove the filter. Hold it over a trash can, and tap it to remove excess debris. Put some dishwashing soap (a few drop will suffice) in a bucket or other container and fill with warm water. The filter needs to be fully submerged. Let it soak for 10 or so minutes, then remove it and rinse thoroughly. Let it air dry before placing it back in the vacuum.

HEPA filters have a number of health benefits, especially for those suffering from lung diseases and allergies. Adding a HEPA vacuum to your arsenal can save you sneezes and let your home feel like an oasis instead of a battleground.

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