Tired of wondering why your house is so dusty? Here are practical and simple steps to deal with the things that cause dust and ways to get it out of your home.
If you have allergy sufferers in your family, you’ve probably wondered how to reduce dust in your home. According to one furniture spray maker, the average house collects 40 lbs. of dust in one year. Forty pounds! But where does it all come from?
We often hear that dust is mostly dead skin, but that’s not true. According to people who study such things, household dust is a mixture of animal dander, carpet fluff, clothing fibers, and dirt tracked indoors. Even unoccupied homes get dusty, though. So, while it’s not possible to completely eliminate dust, the following steps will help you get it under control and get it out of your home efficiently.
Steps to Reduce Dust in Your Home
Usually, the fix for most household problems is going to the source. When it comes to reducing dust in the home, you can’t address the cause without plastic-wrapping every surface. Short of buying a truckload of plastic wrap, the best solution is to keep out as much dust as possible and regularly get rid of the rest. Here’s how.
1. Wear House-Only Shoes
In some parts of the country, it’s considered good manners to remove your shoes when you enter someone else’s home, but there are always people who balk at the thought of a No Shoe Policy. If they realized that up to 80 percent of the household dust enters the bottom of peoples’ shoes, they’d probably rethink their reluctance. (Related: How to Keep Your Carpets Clean.)
This doesn’t mean you’ve got to put up with a growing pile of shoes at the doors. A boot tray near your entrance lets family members know where their shoes belong. Plus, it will collect any drips or mud so that mess doesn’t get onto your floor. You can even keep a small basket of slippers handy, so no one has to deal with cold feet.
2. Stop Dirt at the Doors
Sturdy mats at every entrance to your home give people a place to wipe their feet before entering. That practice alone will significantly reduce the amount of dust tracked indoors, even if people take their shoes off inside. Shake the mats outside or clean them with a hand-vac every couple of days, and you’ll notice a definite reduction of dust. And when you’re cleaning them, be sure to vacuum or rinse both sides since dust seeps through carpeting and mats to reach the floor below.
Weatherstripping around your doors can help reduce household dust by blocking dirt blown in through gaps. This is a particularly helpful step if you live in a dry or rural area or if a drought has left your lawn parched and bare. Make sure your windows are properly closed and that they seal tight, too, then caulk to fill any gaps around the frames.
3. Don’t Blow Dust Around
Most manufacturers advise changing your HVAC filter every three months, but changing it more often will significantly reduce dust in your home. Use inexpensive, disposable filters and replace them every 30 days. It’s not a bad idea to set a recurring reminder on your phone or calendar so you don’t forget. Sweep or vacuum the area around your furnace, too. And if you have an outdoor condenser unit, you should also give it a good cleaning each Spring. Here’s a YouTube video showing how.
4. Clean the Air Ducts
When was the last time you pulled the vent cover off your floor register and took a peek? If you’ve got kids or pets, chances are you’ll find quite a few things down in the vents. So, keep the vents and ducts clean, and you’ll see less dust floating around. It takes roughly five minutes per vent to clean them the first time and under a minute every time after that. Here’s how to clean your air ducts to get you started. Don’t forget to wash those dusty floor register and wall vent covers!
5. Control Dust Mites in Your Bed
We’ve all seen the commercials about dead skin flakes, dander, and dust mites building up in a mattress over time. They build up in bedding and pillows, too. Reduce this by vacuuming your mattress seasonally and laundering your bedding regularly. That means washing sheets and pillowcases weekly, mattress or duvet covers or uncovered comforters monthly, and everything else once a season — including laundering your pillows and cleaning your mattress.
6. Vacuum Effectively
How often you should vacuum depends on how many people live in your home. The general rule is to vacuum each room wall-to-wall once a week, then go over high-traffic areas every other day. But there’s more to it than just pushing the vacuum back and forth—work in slow, overlapping strokes. Most people vacuum too fast, so the machine doesn’t have a chance to suck up all the dirt. And once you’ve cleaned wall to wall, turn at a right angle, then vacuum the room wall to wall again. You’ll get up much more dust when you vacuum your floors the right way.
7. Use the Right Equipment to Clean Dust
Feather dusters are cute and retro, but they do a horrible job of removing dust. Even if you follow recommendations to stroke the surfaces with the feathers instead of “tickling” them, the dust will fall out of the feathers as you walk through the room. Your vacuum’s soft-bristled dusting attachment can do a fantastic job cleaning drapes or curtains, mini-blinds, and baseboards. For everything else, including hard surfaces like tabletops or shelves, use a damp microfiber cloth and dust the right way.
8. Use the Dryer Sheet Trick
Some hard surfaces act like dust magnets even when surrounding furniture stays relatively dust-free. Rubberwood, in particular, does this. After wiping with a damp cloth, run a dryer sheet across the top of tables and shelves — the anti-static coating helps keep them dust-free longer.
9. Humidify Your Home’s Air
The drier your home’s indoor air, the more dust you’ll see. That’s because dry air leads to dry skin, and dry skin sheds flakes. Parched indoor air also leaches moisture from your furnishings and can make paint begin to crack and flake, too. If you have a whole-home humidifier, keep it in good working condition and use it continually during cold spells. Cool mist room diffusers add humidity, too, and can supplement a whole-home humidifier if needed. Humidifiers and diffusers can help control static electricity in your home, too.
9. Minimize Clutter
The less stuff you have sitting around collecting dust, the less dust you’ll see in your home. So, to get your home’s dust problem under control, first deal with the clutter issues. Keep countertops clear of things you don’t use daily. Give away or donate things you’re tired of or which no longer fit you or your tastes. Hang up clothes you’re not wearing and keep your closet floors clear so they’re easy to vacuum. Ditto for the floor beneath your bed — it’s a horrible dust magnet. (Need more guidance? Here are The Golden Rules of Decluttering.)
10. Tumble the Dust Out
Soft furnishings collect a lot of dust. Laundering or vacuuming them routinely helps keep them clean, so washing your curtains is a great way to reduce dust. But a tumble through your dryer is another quick way to get rid of dust, and it works on fabrics you can’t wash, like silk. Just remove any curtain rings, zippers, or other hardware, then insert the item into your dryer. Choose a no-heat or fluff setting and let the piece tumble for a few minutes. The tumbling action releases dust from the fabric while the dryer vent removes it from your house. So easy!
11. Replace Your Old Carpets
Over time, carpets trap dirt beneath the pad that even the best vacuum can’t completely remove. Shampooing or steam cleaning your carpet properly helps, but doing it too often causes your carpet to wear out faster. Then it adds carpet fiber fragments and adhesives to the dust flying around in your home. If you can afford it, replace your carpets with hard flooring. It is so much easier to keep clean.
12. Groom Pets Outdoors
Dogs and cats create an extraordinary amount of dust by shedding dead skin flakes and hair. Regular grooming helps keep pet hair under control, especially if you brush them outdoors where any dandruff or other fluff will stay out of your home. If you can’t do it outside, brush them on top of an old towel spread on your bathroom floor. Gather up the towel and shake it outside, then launder it.
13. Clean Your Air on Cleaning Day
Ironically, cleaning your house sends a lot of dust flying around in your home’s air. Rather than letting it settle back down on your furniture and floors, put your home’s HVAC to work. No matter the time of year, you can do this by simply turning on your system’s fan while you clean. Let it run about 15 minutes longer once you’re done. The fan will “sweep” the air through your home’s filter, which will remove any dust you disturbed while cleaning. Be sure to shut it off, and your furniture will stay dust-free for longer.
Getting your home’s dust problem under control doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible if you keep at it. Start by adopting one or two of these steps to reduce dust in your home and add more as your schedule and funds allow.