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Blog » The On The Spot Guide To Cleaning Dust

February 3, 2023


No matter where or how you live, dust will make itself at home in your house. Some household members may experience it more viscerally, with eyes red and watery, and sleepless nights punctuated by incessant sneezing and congestion. You may live in farm country, where at certain times of the year, extra layers of dust appear on every surface. There are actions you can take and services you can hire out to significantly lessen dust for a healthier and more comfortable for everyone. Randy Spurling, Carpet Cleaner and owner of On The Spot Cleaners, has the ultimate dust cleaning guide for you. 

This Old House defines household dust as “comprised of a variety of tiny particles, including dead skin, hair, pet dander, fabric fibers, food crumbs, soil, pollen—just about anything capable of being shed, flaked, crushed, or crumbled.” It not only exists on every solid surface but is also floating through the air we breathe. Dust mites are microscopic creatures feasting on our dead skin cells in our bedding, on our furniture, and our carpets. Hundreds of them congregate in one particle of dust, shedding their exoskeletons and dropping their feces on the pillowcases where we rest our freshly washed faces each night. How dare they. But guess what, they are not alone. Settling onto your furniture and floating through your home is also “mold, bacteria, and environmental pollutants, including lead, asphalt, and arsenic.” 

But we are evolved humans and we can outsmart those pesky particles before they have a chance to take over. Follow this guide to prevent substantial dust build-up before it forms, learn about smart dust-deterring swaps and investments, and the proper way to clean the dust that inevitably does make its way into your home. 

Preventing Dust Accumulation Indoors 

Here are some tried-and-true expert-advised routine cleaning and maintenance tasks you can do to minimize dust build-up inside your home. 

● Pet grooming - We adore our pets, but these furry family members make a significant contribution to airborne allergens in our homes. To keep dander, dust, and dirt from pets at bay, wipe their paws when they re-enter from outdoors. Groom them often, and brush and bathe them outdoors whenever possible. Wash their bedding as frequently as you wash your own. 

● Air filter replacement in all appliances and HVAC units - visibly check your filters every 30-90 days, more frequently if you live with an allergy sufferer. Look for a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 10 or higher if you live with allergy sufferers. 

● Regularly launder bedding - Did we mention that dust mites love your bed as much as you do? Don’t let them get too cozy. Not only should you be changing your sheets and pillowcases weekly, but you should be caring for the rest of your bedding as well. Here’s what to do according to Martha:

○ Use dustproof mattress covers

○ Air out your bedding every few days by turning down your comforter; this allows
your sheets and pillowcases to breathe for a day. 

○ Launder your comforter and blankets every two weeks. 

○ Wash pillows in hot water at least three times per year. 

Door mats and shoe removal - Dust tracks into our homes on our shoes and outerwear. Place thick fiber door mats outside and inside your entryway and adopt a no-shoes policy in your house. 

Close windows - Keep road-facing windows closed during peak traffic hours. Inspect windows, doors, and screens to make sure they are properly sealed and caulk any cracks as needed. 

Houseplants - Air-filtering plants, especially ones with fuzzy greenery, do great work of pulling dust out of the air, especially when placed strategically in front of windows.

Good hygiene - Keep dead skin at bay with regular showering. 

Check closets - Use garment bags or vacuum seal bags to store seasonal or rarely worn items. Rotate linens and towels routinely. Donate items that get little use.

● Limit textiles - Decorative pillows, throws, drapes, stuffed animals, and area rugs are all dust magnets. Limit their use if you share a home with an allergy sufferer and launder what you keep regularly. 

Maintenance Tasks & Investments To Tackle Dust 

HVAC Maintenance - your ductwork is a likely culprit contributing to dusty indoor air quality. Routine cleanings ensure your indoor air quality is healthy and that your HVAC system is working to its full potential. Get your ducts cleaned regularly by a professional. 

Exhaust fans - Are your kitchen cabinets coated in a sticky film? Can you see the dust and hair stuck to your bathroom walls or ceilings? Your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans are not working properly and are providing surfaces for dust to stick. Check the filters and make any necessary repairs or replacements to ensure they are adequately working. 

Replace interior design features 

○ Horizontal blinds can be swapped with anti-static cellular/honeycomb blinds or
vertical blinds that collect less dust. 

○ Replace wall-to-wall carpeting with solid flooring. 

○ Replace older window screens with new allergen and dust-filtering screens.

Install stair dust corners - they are pretty and functional and make sweeping your hard-to-reach, dust-laden stair corners a breeze. 

● Air purifiers - The right-sized air purifier for your whole home or smaller rooms can make a huge difference in your indoor air quality. Place them in front of windows to trap dust particles as they enter your home. 

Vacuum with HEPA-filter vacuum - Certified HEPA filters minimize the number of dust particles from re-entering the air as you vacuum. It’s also important to maintain and clean your vacuum between uses, emptying outdoors whenever possible. 

Humidity Levels - Invest in a dehumidifier or humidifier to maintain humidity levels of 40 to 50 percent throughout your home to help eliminate static and keep dust levels down.

Clean Properly To Keep Dust Levels At A Minimum 

The steps listed above will significantly reduce the amount of dust accumulating in your home, but nothing will completely prevent it from coming in. Follow these steps to ensure whatever dust does make it inside gets sufficiently cleaned and kept under control. 

Clean top to bottom - Starting from your ceiling and working down to the floor, use microfiber or a slightly damp cotton cloth to wipe the dust from all surfaces. Ceiling fans, window frames, televisions, lamps, and shelves down to the coffee tables and flooring. You can do this with leather furniture and other smooth upholstery as well. Vacuum and mop last, not neglecting areas behind and beneath furniture. 

Don’t forget the window treatments - Vacuum draperies routinely and get them professionally laundered or dry-cleaned once per year. 

● Declutter and redecorate regularly - If you keep it moving, the dust won’t know where to settle. Do away with or clean any items that attract dust. 

Take it outside - Do like your grandmother did and take the rugs, bedding, stuffed animals, and pillows out for a good beating. 

Vacuum with long, slow passes - Vacuum too fast and you’ll end up kicking dust right back up into the air. 

Deep clean carpets and rugs - Vacuum high-traffic carpeted areas more than once per week and get all rugs and carpets professionally cleaned once per year. Twice per year if you have pets. No matter how often you vacuum, dust and other particles get trapped deep within the rug’s fibers. Rugs are a big investment and add beauty and warmth to your home. Deep, professional cleaning is the only way to reach the deep-set dirt, dust, and grime and will keep them looking as beautiful as the day you bought them. 

Wipe down houseplants - Your plants are working hard to filter your air - wipe the dust from their leaves once every week or so with a damp cloth. 

Mop - After vacuuming, finish the job with a thorough once-over of your hard floors. Don’t skip the stairwells or the baseboards.