How to Dust the Right Way

Constantly dealing with dust in your home? Try this method to properly clean it.

Cleaning concept photo of female hand reaching through portal in wall to use dusting wand

When your home is dusty, everything looks dingy. Floating debris can also cause itchy eyes and scratchy throats, even if you don’t have dust allergies. And once those particles settle onto your floors, walking on them can scratch hard flooring or lead to permanently ground-in carpet stains.

There are steps to reduce the amount of dust in your home. But, once you’ve done those, you need to use the right methods to deal with the rest. So, read on for how to dust everything in your home — yep, there’s a right way to do it.

The Right Direction

You may have heard the advice to clean your house from top to bottom. That doesn’t mean starting at the top floor of your home and working down to the basement, although that’s a fantastic way to Spring Clean. The advice to clean from top to bottom (and from left to right) refers to the best method for dusting or getting rid of other dirt.

The idea is to move it from the top of a room or surface to the bottom (or floor), where you can vacuum it up. By cleaning things from the highest point to the lowest, you don’t push dirt or dust onto surfaces you’ve already cleaned. And by working from left to right, you can be confident that you aren’t skipping any spots in the process.

Use the Right Equipment to Dust

Working with the right tool for the job isn’t just good advice for home repairs. It’s also the best approach when it comes to dusting your home too. You wouldn’t buy an old-fashioned hand saw to cut wood for a shelf since there are faster, better things available these days like radial saws. For the same reason, you shouldn’t bother with an old-fashioned feather duster.

Feather dusters were great in their day when the only real alternative was using a rag. But even back then, they didn’t do a very good job of trapping dust and would scatter it from one surface to another. (No wonder housekeepers made dusting furniture part of their daily routines!) To properly dust things in your home, you need to use the right equipment for dusting.

For High Spots, Corners and Walls

There’s no need to haul a ladder out to dust your walls and ceilings or even high corners, ceiling fans, or hanging lights. For standard-height rooms, a long-handled duster is usually enough. If you have vaulted ceilings or taller rooms, look for an extension cleaning kit with a duster attachment. (I use this one.*)

  1. In high corners, use the long, flat microfiber attachment to “tease” cobwebs out of hiding, then wipe them off the duster with a microfiber cloth.
  2. For flat ceilings, bend the top third of the microfiber attachment at a right angle and run it across the ceiling in overlapping strokes. Use this bent section to clean the top of the ceiling fan blades and the fan housing too. (To get the dust off popcorn ceilings, attach a clean, dry paint roller to the extension pole instead.)
  3. Finally, switch to the electrostatic (fuzzy) attachment and sweep it in arcs along the wall from top to bottom, left to right.

For Most Surfaces

A microfiber cloth is the best choice to clean dust from most surfaces, and that’s why they’re one of the 10 cleaning tools everyone should own. It’s their split, tightly twisted fibers that make microfiber cleaning cloths stand out from other fabrics. These split fibers mean microfiber cloths have more surface area than regular ones, which means they can clean up to ten times more dirt.

To make microfiber cloths even better at cleaning dusty surfaces, get them slightly damp. Plain water works well enough for most surfaces, or you can spritz the cloth with a little homemade all-purpose cleaner to remove stubborn grime. Either way, a little added moisture helps the cloth trap dust so you can rinse it away rather than spread it around. Be sure to launder your microfiber cloths properly after each use to keep them in good shape.

For Fabric Upholstery

Your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment is the best method to clean dusty fabric furniture like upholstered sofas, chairs, and even mattresses. The upholstery tool is wide with a flat cleaning surface that sometimes has a fuzzy fabric strip designed to collect lint.

Use this attachment in overlapping strokes to remove dust fabric upholstery and cushions, but don’t press down too hard, or you’ll reduce your vacuum’s suction while overburdening its motor. (Need to clean other upholstery messes? Here’s how to remove sofa stains.)

Special Dusting Tools

Curtains and window blinds collect a lot of dust then spread it every time you open or close them. You can launder very dusty curtains then keep them clean with your vacuum’s dust attachment. You can also wash your blinds if they’re vinyl or metal. To clean wood blinds, use rubber bands to fasten socks onto the arms of cooking tongs and run them along the slats.

To clean dust from lampshades and other delicate fabric surfaces, use a lint roller. Or, if pet hair is a problem, this tool from ChomChom* is my go-to. Either way, make sure you’re working with a clean tool, or you’ll leave dirty streaks on your lamp coverings.

Floor Cleaning

Use your vacuum to clean hard flooring as well as carpets. (Brooms mostly stir up dirt that floats around and settles on your furniture again.) Be sure to vacuum the right way using the velvety roller attachment for hard floors or the rotating brush attachment for carpets and area rugs. At least once a season, turn your area rug over and vacuum its backing and the floor beneath it, too. It’s surprising how much hidden dust collects there.

Mop hard floors immediately after you’ve vacuumed them. This gets rid of any fine dust particles that escaped your vacuum cleaner. But never mop without vacuuming first, or the dirt on your floors will turn into mud and leave streaks.

How Often to Dust Things

Weekly

  • Ceiling fan blades
  • Tops of door frames
  • Windowsills
  • Tabletops
  • Dressers
  • Nightstands
  • Shelves
  • Tops of books
  • Picture frames
  • Sofas and chairs

Every Other Week

  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Doors
  • Wall vents and cold air returns
  • Curtains or blinds
  • Tops of cabinets
  • Top of fridge
  • Stair railings
  • Houseplants
  • Baseboards

Ideally, you should dust horizontal surfaces weekly (twice a week if someone in your home has dust allergies) and vertical surfaces every other week. This schedule prevents dust from collecting in crevices and becoming stubborn grime. If you have a hard time remembering what to clean and how often to clean it, grab one of my free cleaning checklists and follow their easy steps.

Where to next?
How to Clean Walls and Ceilings
How to Clean Your House Faster: Secrets and Fast Cleaning Hacks
Printable Monthly Cleaning Routine
Cleaning Checklists

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