Proactive Tips for Reducing Dust in Your Home
How often do you sit down for a much needed break only to look at the entertainment center (instead of the TV) and see all the dust on the surface?
It never fails, when I’m standing next to it, it looks fine but when I sit on the couch and the light hits it a different way, there’s a distinct layer of dust. It reminds me I’m not perfect. I just cleaned the other day but I obviously forgot the TV stand - or did I? There is a lot of traffic in this area but whether I did or didn’t, dust will always come back.
Have you ever thought about what is in dust and why it’s important to keep our homes clean? There are all kinds of fungi and airborne bacteria found in dust. And why not, one way dust gets in the house is from the outdoors after all.
Let’s face it, there is no stopping dust, no matter how quickly you close the front door. If your husband works in construction, think of how much dust is coming in on his clothes. If you live on or near a farm, dust is always being stirred up and the list of ways dust comes in is endless.
Dust is an ever present problem but there are things you can do to keep your home as dust free as possible.
Invest in Good Door Mats
Stop as much dirt and debris from getting in the house before you step inside the house as these are one of the main contributors of dust. There are quite a selection of attractive door mats for outside and inside the house that you can find at your local home goods store.
For the outside of the house (front door, garage door, back door, etc.) consider getting a mat that has a larger surface area where you can walk off dirt and debris before entering the home. It should be a mat that can withstand the elements and should be worked into your regular cleaning schedule by using a shop vac to get up dirt and debris.
To wash the mat, hose it down and gently scrub, if necessary, with an all-purpose cleaner (without bleach) or check the label for the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning method. Rinse the mat and hang until completely dry.
Indoor Mats and Rugs
Also keep mats and rugs inside the house especially if you have a large entryway, a mudroom, or a family room with wood floors. These should be vacuumed, shaken out and washed regularly to keep dust that has settled deep into the fibers from accumulating.
For larger area rugs, have someone help you take it outdoors and give it a good old fashioned beating – just like grandma did!
Replace Air Filters
The main purpose of air filters is to collect dirt, dust and debris to keep the air in your home as clean as possible.
These are typically located in an easy to get to location for easy cleaning and replacement. How often you clean these can depend on the environment you live in as some places can be more hot, dusty and windblown than others.
This article can help identify the need for cleaning and replacing your air filters:
Don’t Forget the Vent Covers
Heating and air conditioning vents can collect quite a bit of dust over time. These can easily be cleaned, as needed, by going over the slats with the soft brush on the vacuum, hand held vacuum or shop vac. A high duster can be used on vents located on the ceiling.
Bathroom and kitchen vents may need to be removed occasionally and washed with warm water and a touch of dish soap due to grease residue, hairspray, etc. Depending on how dirty they are, you can clean them in the sink or outside using a five gallon bucket.
Cleaning Duct Work
The EPA recommends cleaning ducts only as needed.
Use an Air Purifier
If you’re concerned about the dust in your home because of allergies or associated symptoms, you may want to consider using an air purifier in rooms that are most used to help reduce the amount of dust in the room.
Air purifiers can help trap airborne particles before they have a change to settle and accumulate on surfaces. Regular use can significantly reduce household dust.
These are not meant to replace dusting but as we’ve stated, they can help reduce the amount of dust in a room.
Cleaning the Unthinkables
Curtains, lamp shades, upholstery oh my! How often do you think about vacuuming any of these? Maybe the upholstery once in a while but curtains and lamp shades almost always get forgotten and they can be dust magnets.
Have you ever noticed, when opening and closing the drapes, the puffs of dust you see in the air as the curtains move? That’s only a portion of dust, there’s more in the folds.
Routinly vacuum using the upholstery or soft brush attachment, paying special attention to getting inside the folds of the drapes. One thing I do is put my hand on the other side of the fabric from where I’m vacuuming it helps for a firmer hold.
It’s also a good idea to periodically have your curtains or drapes professionally cleaned unless the label states they can be hand washed or machine washed. If there is no label, err on the side of caution and have them professionally cleaned, especially if they are an expensive, nice set of drapes.
Cleaning Lamp Shades
How about the lamp shades, have you ever really looked at them and the thick layer of dust that can settle on them?
These can be cleaned regularly by dry dusting. If the lampshade you’re cleaning has a lot of little pleats, you can use a clean paintbrush or a toothbrush to carefully get in the folds and get the dust out then vacuum with the upholstery brush – be careful when you’re cleaning around the trim.
If there is a hard plastic shell on the interior of the lamp that has been forgotten about, remove the shad and dampen a cloth with warm water and wipe it down.
Cleaning Furniture and Upholstery
Use the upholstery tool to vacuum all surfaces of your furniture at least every three months to keep dust down – this means under cushions and under furniture too! If you have a leather sofa or chair use the dust brush, it’s a little softer than the upholstery tool.
Upholstered furniture cushions can be brought outdoors for a good beating to remove dust the vacuuming didn’t get.
Change Vacuum Bags
Change the bags in your vacuum cleaner frequently and keep new bags on hand. One way to know if the vacuum bag is full is you will notice a significant drop in suction. A fresh bag will give you better performance and help remove dust particles more efficiently.
Don’t Use a Synthetic Feather Duster, Choose a Quality Duster
First of all, don’t use just any old feather duster. There are synthetic dusters that don’t help with dusting at all, they might be more affordable but they just move the dust around the furniture you’re dusting and will send dust particles into the air and will most likely settle on the piece you just finished dusting.
If you like using a feather duster for cleaning areas like the top of a vanity, fan blades, light fixtures or hard to reach areas, use an ostrich down feather duster or a real lamb’s wool duster, they will cost you a bit more but they will reliably attract dust.
To clean accumulated dust from your feather duster, just take it outside and gently shake it out or tap it against the side of your foot.
Note: Feather dusters work best on areas that are regularly cleaned. If the area hasn’t been cleaned in a while a damp dusting may be the option for you.
If Someone has Serious Allergies or Asthma Consider Removing Carpets
This can be an extreme step to take but if there are concerns due to serious allergies or asthma, carpets and carpet pads hold dust, dust mites, animal dander, bacteria, etc. and vacuuming can only pick up so much no matter how much you vacuum.
Wood flooring has come a long way and there are many styles to suite any home. Wood floors also accumulate less allergens than carpets do.
This is a big decision that can be expensive but dirt and dust and other particulates overtime are permanently embedded in carpet. If the expense is just too great to think about now, consider steam cleaning the carpets as adviced by the manufacturer.
Keeping the Garage Clean
This is another area that doesn’t get the attention it needs. If you’re trying to eliminate dust in the home due to cleanliness, allergies, etc. there’s a lot of stuff that can settle on the garage floor.
Try using a microfiber Shmop head for floor dusting and wet mopping. These will attract fine dust and lint and they’re machine washable. It’s a great chore for Dad to occasionally keep his garage floor clean. Just be sure to keep these Shmop heads separate from the ones you use in other areas inside the house.
If you have a refrigerator in the garage, don’t forget to have Dad clean the top of it as well as dust will accumulate quickly there as well.
As you can see, dust will settle everywhere and will accumulate quickly. These tips can help cut down on the amount of dust in your home.