How To Reduce Dust In Your Home

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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.

Female stands next to dusty table and shows dust collected on her fingertip

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.

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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.

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  1. We definitely have everyone remove their shoes at the door and it seems to help with not tracking in dirt but with a two year old boy, dirt just kind of finds us. 😛

  2. Melissa-TheHappierHomemaker says:

    Great tips! I feel like I’m constantly dusting. I’ll definitely try anything that could help!!

  3. I love your tips. As an Asthma sufferer I try to do most of these things. I’ve tried the “leaving shoes at the door” thing, but they are all offenders and won’t do it, when I asked why, they said it was because of their smelly feet. Which is totally true! If they walk on the carpet, the carpet then smells like stinky feet. Only one will wear slippers if left by the door. *sigh* Maybe I should install a foot washing fountain by the door!!! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Kristy Tillman says:

      Switch to wool socks. Seriously! My husband wears only wool socks now and we no longer have stinky feet! And no, they aren’t too hot in summer. They have thin ones and are perfect!

  4. You’d be shocked at how much dust is attached to walls and ceilings.
    We got rid of carpet. Wash walls then keep either a long handled duster or microfiber towel tied onto a broom to wipe walls. We found a bigger return for constantly wiping walls and washing any reachable wall and molding than from dusting flat surfaces. Dustmop daily and daily wipe and wipe constantly on surfaces. Eventually you will get dust down. Run cordless vac on door mats and if you run out of time , get the entrances kitchen and bathrooms. 20 minutes a day max. I have kids pets and a full time job. House always looks pretty clean.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Oh, I’m not shocked at all by how much dust gathers on walls and ceilings — especially “popcorn” or textured ones!

    2. NorCalGal says:


      Do you happen to know a good way to clean popcorn ceilings?

      Some day, I’m going to go on a week long vaca and when I return, they will all be gone…but for now, I am horrified to think about the dust. Sort of afraid to disturb it!

    3. Katie Berry says:

      I use a dry paint roller on an extension pole to clean mine. Just roll it in one direction and brush it off now and then. Works like a charm!

  5. Hi Katie,

    Searching for help with dust is what brought me to your sight! I live in Arizona in an area that has wind 90% of the time. I have an old house (1925) that has been added on to and remodeled over the years but the one thing that none of the owners have touched is the windows, I think that most of them are the original. I kid you not the dirt blows in like there aren’t any windows at all! Everything is covered all the time, even inside the cabinets, it is maddening! I can’t replace the windows, there are 13 of them, all weird sizes and have to be custom made so very costly. I have considered covering all of them with plastic but that is very ugly. I never open them, most of them won’t open anyway, should I use clear caulk to seal them all around from the inside? I am bewildered and befuddled any ideas would be welcome.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Carol,
      I wouldn’t recommend covering the windows with plastic since that’s supposed to be a short-term solution in cold weather climates. Plus, as you noted, it looks ugly.

      Caulking gaps will help keep dust from entering your home, as will adding weatherstripping around your doors. Pay particular attention to the bottom of doors and install a “sweep” if there’s a gap. Of course, placing mats inside and out, so people don’t track dust inside, will help enormously, too.

  6. Another way you might not think is create a sort of vacum in your house, do you ever see the way you open a back door and a front door same time and then one slams, hold them open after you dust down, the vacum will suck out dust, even try it with windows

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You may have a good idea there, Colin, assuming nothing gets in the way of that cross-breeze!

  7. We do not have pets

    We do not have carpet or rugs

    We had ducts cleaned March 2019, which is also the date we purchased this perpetually dirty home, which I dry then wet swiffer weekly.
    We have no children and with covid we no company EVER.

    The endless dust is a nightmare. The house was built in 1993, is 2-story, 2 separate heating/cooling units, 4-bdrm.

    In 2000 we got a new roof & new windows.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      How frustrating! Be sure to check your home’s humidity levels, since dry air makes paint and varnish flake, along with skin. Those contribute to dust. You might want to try a cordless vacuum and washable microfiber mop, too. Swiffers are convenient but I don’t feel like they really get dirt up and out.

  8. Live in a rural area with two large dogs. Unfortunately the yard in certain areas are down to no grass. (Planning on taking care of that this spring)
    I have rugs inside and outside doors to collect what dirt they do track in. But still my house is full of dust and dirt. I also do not have ac or heat. So no ducts or filters. Any other ideas to help cut down on everyday sweeping, dusting and mopping???

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It sounds like your best bet is to keep the doors and windows shut as much as possible until you get a chance to grow grass in the bare areas. You should also make sure you’ve got good weatherstripping and that you’ve caulked gaps.

  9. Elizabeth O'D says:

    I run my vacuum (with the hose end open, zip tied to handle so it is pointing up into the air) while I dust.
    I also have a new robot vac which collects an amazing amount of dust, fuzz and pet hair. Endust on swiffer dust cloth helps. I still have to dust every 2 – 3 days. I live in Orlando, so the sandy soil creates a lot of dust.