How to Clean Dust

A person shows how dusty a wooden surface is by skimming their finger along its surface.

The idea of a clean house can be surprisingly subjective. For instance, it is entirely possible to have a home that is completely free of clutter. Everything is where it belongs, and there aren’t any extraneous pieces of decor or anything. However, if your mother-in-law comes over and gives the house a good ol’ once over with a white glove, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll both be surprised and maybe a little disgusted by what is found. You’ll probably also find yourself on the receiving end of a disapproving frown (or six). So is it a clean house or not? I guess that’s for you to decide. For some people, dust isn’t a big deal. It just doesn’t bother them in the least. For your mother-in-law, it’s just one more reason for her to dislike you.

Aside from being unsightly, dust is really kinda gross. For the most part, all that fine particulate matter is comprised of your nasty-ass dead skin cells, your dog’s or cat’s nasty-ass dead skin cells, pieces of hair, dirt, pollen, flecks of shite, little bits of fabric, incredible edible dust mites, and to top it all off . . . dust mite poo. And so, if you’re a little bit of a germaphobe like myself, this is simply unacceptable. Besides being icky, dust also has the reputation of being allergenic. With all that pollen and dander, it makes sense. Some people are even allergic to dust mites. And if you didn’t think dust was bad enough already, it also has a propensity for bringing on asthma attacks.

Steps to Cleaning Dust

  1. to do list on paperAssess the situation. Before you start to clean dust from your home, it’s a good idea to take some time, making mental notes of what you actually need to dust. If you stop to look around, you may be surprised. You might even want to write some things down so you don’t forget to dust them. Remember places like the tops of cabinets and cupboards, ceiling fans, tops of picture frames, lights, lamps, chandeliers, books, bookshelves, and electronics. You know what’s in your house better than I do (or do you?). Just have a look around.
  2. wiping off shelfWet a rag, and do it to it. Before you start, if it’s not gonna get too hot for you, close the doors and windows and turn off fans and air conditioners. You don’t want dust to get blown directly back onto what you just wiped down. Start at the top and work your way down. Hit the the corners with a duster, and use a damp rag for the tops of pictures, doors, and window frames. You might consider wearing gloves for this process so you don’t leave fingerprints. Next, move on to shelves, table tops, etc. As you move knick knacks to dust underneath them, dust them off too before putting them back. Don’t forget the books. They collect dust like a mofo. Because of their anti-static properties, many people choose to dust with a dryer sheet.
  3. vacuuming upholsteryDon’t neglect your dusty upholstery. Most vacuum cleaners come with a hose and an attachment or two to help you vacuum your upholstery. Start with your curtains or drapes. If it has been awhile since they’ve been cleaned, you may want to consider taking them down and washing them. Now attack every piece of furniture you have. Do the couches, love seats, ottomans, loungers, recliners, and anything I’ve forgotten to mention. Remove all the cushions, and vacuum them separately. Get the back and the sides too. This is also a good time to vacuum or mop underneath the furniture. I promise there’s more dust to clean up under there than you’d like to think about.
  4. wiping up floorHit the floor. The reason I recommend starting at the top and working your way down is that as you dust, if it’s not too breezy, that dust will settle lower. So save the floors for last. If you have hard floors, good. Sweep very gently so that you don’t throw a bunch of dust back into the air, or use a dust mop. After dust mopping, it’s time to wet mop. Take your time, get the corners well, and rinse your mop often. You may even want to get fresh mop water about halfway through. If you have carpeting, you should really just tear it out. Carpet harbors dust and dust mites like you wouldn’t believe. If you can’t get rid of it or are unwilling to, then you will need to vacuum at least three times a week. More if possible. Get yourself a good, high-powered vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  5. a collection of nick-knacksEvaluate the necessity of your belongings. While you are going through your house dusting everything, you should take a serious look at the things you own and consider getting rid of some stuff, or at least boxing it up. The more things you have in your house, the more surface are you have for dust and dust mites to collect on. Besides that, lots of little knick knacks can significantly increase the time it takes for you to clean dust. Chances are, most of the stuff collecting dust doesn’t really hold a whole lot of sentimental value. It’s just stuff. Move it out.
  6. humidity gaugeThe humidity debate. There is a convincing reason for keeping your home humid, and there is an equally convincing reason for keeping your home dry. In a humid house, the floating dust attaches itself to the moisture in the air, it gets heavy, and it falls to the floor. This allows you to easily vacuum or mop it up. On the other hand, a dry cool house is inhospitable for dust mites. By keeping the temperature below 70°F and the humidity below 35%, you can seriously diminish the number of dust mites in your home.

Tips and Toys for Cleaning Dust

The bitch about dust cleaning is that you will never, never, never be fully rid of it. It doesn’t matter how OCD you are. You could clean dust for 29½ hours a day and there would still be more . . . taunting you. So here’s the thing: you’re gonna have to learn to live with some dust. Luckily, though, it doesn’t have to be as much as what you’re living with now.

The smart people of the world have come up with a few really good and relatively simple ideas for helping you clean dust. Perhaps the best of these newfangled inventions are HEPA filters. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. These are by far the best filters available for removing dust and dust mites from the air. You can get HEPA furnace filters, HEPA air purifiers, and even HEPA vacuum cleaner filters. After all, HEPA air is good air. Aside from HEPA air filters, there are neat things available like microfiber cloths and ostrich feather dusters. Microfiber cloths are amazing at grabbing and holding onto a ridiculous amount of dust. You don’t even need to use any harsh cleaners with them; just get them damp with a little water. Those ostrich feather dusters I mentioned are nice too. Maybe not as nice as the cloth but definitely faster. The nice thing about them is that as you use them, they develop a nice little electrostatic charge that holds tightly onto dust. The last thing I want to mention is nothing more than dust covers for your mattress and pillows. The place you sleep in is a black hole for dust and dust mites. I own the ones made by Protect-A-Bed and have been very happy with them.

Organic Products for Cleaning Dust

spray bottle of seventh generationSeventh Generation Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner.In my home, we use Seventh Generation products almost exclusively. They are readily available at a billion on line shops and in most stores. They are affordably priced, work very well, and, best of all, the don’t eff up the environment.

Method oMopMethod Omop.The Omop is an excellent alternative to that stupid Swiffer thing for cleaning dust off of your hard floors. One of the biggest differences is that the Omop actually works well. Not to mention that it comes with a reusable microfiber mop head and corn-based sweeping cloths that capture dust.

Bottle of Green LogicGreen Logic Glass & Surface Cleaner. This is a cleaner that is EPA and Green Seal certified. It is made with environmental ingredients and is biodegradable. This cleaner is good for use on dust, grease, grime, smudges, and dirt. It is completely phosphate free. You can order it from Amazon.