According to the makers of one furniture spray, the average home collects 40 lbs. of dust in one year. Forty pounds! Add in older carpeting, kids, a couple of cats, and a spouse who does wood-working projects in the basement, like mine does, and the figure is probably higher. I, for one, can assure you that no amount of cleaning will completely remove the dust in your house, but here is how to clean away as much dust as you can.
Start at the door: Have your family and guests remove their shoes upon entering. Although this is considered good manners in some parts of the country, other areas consider it strange. But considering that up to 80 percent of the dust in your home enters on the bottom of peoples’ shoes — not to mention tons of bacteria — it really is more courteous to leave shoes at the door. You can always keep a few pairs of clean slippers available for those embarrassed about going barefoot. (Bonus, use these dust mop slippers and put your guests to work for you!)
Use mats, and keep them clean: Place sturdy yet attractive mats inside and outside of every entrance to your home, and shake them out or hose them down regularly. This, too, will help prevent dust from entering.
Change your air filter and use it: Most air filter manufacturers recommend changing your filter every 3 months. If you have allergy sufferers in the home, change it monthly. Run your system’s fan when you’re cleaning and the filter will catch any dust in the air.
Keep your bedding clean: We’ve all seen the commercials about dead skin flakes, dander and dust mites that build up in a mattress over time. They build up in bedding and pillows, too. Reduce this by vacuuming your mattress every time you change your sheets. Run your comforter and pillows through the dryer on “fluff” regularly, too.
Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum: Vacuum every room in your house, including the closet floors, regularly. Use your crevice tool at the base of walls at least once a month, and be sure to vacuum under raised furniture, like beds, every month, too. High-traffic areas need vacuuming at least twice a week, as do allergy sufferers’ bedroom floors. Other areas need only weekly attention, while guest rooms that are only used during the holidays can probably get by with a monthly vacuuming.
Dump the duster: Sure, feather dusters are cute and retro, but they do a horrible job removing dust (even if you follow a certain cleaning “expert’s” recommendation to stroke the surfaces with the feathers instead of “tickling” them, since the dust will fall out of the feathers as you walk through the room). Put your vacuum’s soft-bristled dusting attachment to work getting the dust out of your house by regularly vacuuming drapes or curtains, mini-blinds, cushions and baseboards, along with horizontal surfaces where dust accumulates.
Do some DIY duct cleaning, or hire a pro: When was the last time you pulled the vent cover off of your floor register and took a peek? If you’ve got kids or pets, the chances are you’ll find quite a few things down in the vents. Use your vacuum’s hose extension to clean the floor registers and into the ducts as far as you can reach. If they’re particularly dirty, or you don’t know whether they’ve ever been professional cleaned, it’s time to call in the pros. Many carpet-cleaning companies also offer duct-cleaning services, often with steeply discounted rates in the summer.
Most importantly, realize that your home will never be 100% dust-free. Stay on top of what you can, and turn the lights down low so you don’t have to see the rest.