The Best Way To Dust Your Home
What’s relevant about dusting? The whole idea seems dull. What real benefits can dusting possibly offer? It’s not like there are some mysterious disadvantages of just not dusting? Or, are there? First, people who say that dust isn’t exciting to read about have it wrong. Even learning what dust is not is interesting. Watch: Dust is not mostly dead human skin and insect feces and body parts, as the old myth has had it, not even close. But, just what IS dust really? See, it’s all very suspenseful now.
What Is Dust?
So, dust is generated from two places, inside and outside your house. Inside, you’re continuously creating dust—from your skin and hair, your family’s and guests’ skin and hair, your pets’ dander, and furniture and rug fibers. Outside your house, particulates like dirt, plant pollen, animal fur, insect parts, paper and textile fibers, minerals, animal and human skin cells, rotted vegetation and other particulates on the ground and in the air. So, pretty gross.
Anyway, most of the dead human skin winds up going down the shower or bathtub drain, and much of the rest ends up on bed sheets. About two-thirds of dust inside the average house is either tracked in from the ground outside on your feet and your pets’ paws, or it wafts in as airborne particulate every time a door or window is opened. Some comes in through your HVAC system, unless you’re using like clean-room grade HEPA air-filtering at home.
Getting Physical With Dust
There’s really no way to be entirely free from dust. Dustiness is just a fact of life. Since dust is coming at us and settling on us and everything we love and cherish at every moment, from inside and outside, it’s not like some sort of dust abatement is going to solve the problem permanently. The best we can do is manage the dust. But how? There are a few measures you can take to keep dust at bay:
- Check Exterior Entries — To minimize external dust blowing and drifting into your home, inspect exterior door and window seals and vents. Ensure that all are properly sealed against air leaks. Close or seal vent openings that are not in use. (These actions deliver multiple benefits in addition to cutting down dust. They also reduce energy costs and improve temperature control and comfort.)
- Use Door Mats — Another simple dust control method is to use good doormats with bristles that brush your shoes as you enter the house. Those trap dirt before it can be tracked it inside. Having a no-shoes inside policy is much more effective.
- Air Filtering — Using air cleaning equipment like an air purifier can also help to trap airborne dust. Adding denser filters to your home’s HVAC system may be advisable, especially in high-pollution environments. But, check with your local air-conditioning and heating professional first, to ensure that the motor on your system is strong enough to withstand the harder pulling necessary to move air through a denser filter.
- Install Ground Cover — Cover bare ground around your home with grass and plants. Replace dirt or gravel driveways with asphalt or concrete. Raise sidewalks, as necessary, above ground level or trim sides of walkways with vegetation or decorative rock to minimize dust migrating onto walks going to your entry doors.
- Keep Things Clean — From here on, it’s just a maintenance thing. In addition to keeping all people and clothes and pets routinely washed, also keep furniture, draperies, rugs and carpets, fireplaces, vent ducts, lighting fixtures, mattresses, and all other interior surfaces clean and dusted.
What If I Couldn’t Care Less About Dust?
There actually can be real consequences to ignoring the dust bunnies swirling around in the corners and the thickening layer of dust on surfaces. When it starts to look like the earth is reclaiming your house, it’s time to make a move with a dust cloth. Some important consequences of not dusting can include:
- Respiratory Effects — Especially for elderly occupants of your home, children and people with respiratory sensitivities, excessive dust can trigger asthma attacks and other potentially dangerous reactions.
- Corrosive Effects — When household humidity from cooking and from hot water use in kitchen and bathrooms settles into layers of dust throughout some areas of your home, delicate artworks, décor, furniture, draperies and various metal, wood and textile items can be negatively impacted. Damp dust promotes rust on metals, settles into and separates wood grains and stains paper and cloth items over time.
Seasonal Deep Cleaning
If you’re just not into routine dusting, then a good alternative is to bear down on a serious annual or semi-annual deep cleaning. We’re talking moving everything, all the furniture, taking everything off the counters and tabletops and wiping each item thoroughly, sending out all the drapes and rugs to the cleaners, bringing in the carpet cleaners, wiping down walls and carefully deep cleaning artworks, washing windows. The whole dreaded thing.
Doing it a little at a time, from week to week, starts to look a lot less repugnant as a practice when you’re staring down the proposition of giving up your whole weekend to do a massive clean out once or twice a year. But, if your schedule and/or your personal constitution are not conducive to regular dusting, then the seasonal approach may be right for you.
Dusting Sprays — What About Um?
A lot of people are big believers in their dusting products, like furniture polishes, disinfectant sprays, wood conditioners, grease cutters, etc.. Go ahead and use whatever gets you results that look, smell, and feel clean. Do keep in mind, though, that products like wood soaps and heavy furniture polishes may contain waxes, silicone or other substances that build up on surfaces over time.
Eventually, these products can cause a dull or even a gummy effect that can require replacement, or special refurbishing treatment of expensive items. Consider using a clean dry cloth, or just plain soft water to very lightly dampen dusting cloths on some surfaces, as appropriate.
Wait what?! Tools! Ugh. Yeah, it’s about more than a stained tee shirt and maybe a can of furniture polish. For faithful routine dusting types, go the distance and invest in a feather duster. It cuts the time needed to whisp your way through your vast collection of trophies, snow globes or other figurines as well as blinds, electronics and wall decor. Go with a dust cloth in addition to the feather duster. Use the cloth for larger, more durable items and surfaces.
Breaking News: The Whole Truth About Dusting
There’s just no easy way to let you know that even if you go with the weekly dusting regimen, you’ll actually still have to do the periodic deep cleaning too. One is really not meant to be a substitute for the other. The seasonal-only approach to dusting is really just for die-hard anti-dusters, people who just don’t have the same outlook on dust as those whose happiness relies on a relatively dust-free house.
So, even for the nit-pickiest of daily dusters, ultimately, you’ll have to remove everything you’ve been dusting from every surface in your home and go deeper to give all the items and the tables and counter surfaces and wood or tile floors under them a good wipe-down.
By the way, for the weekly cleaning, the feather duster and the quick swipe-around-the-items method works great to get things dust-free enough for regular maintenance. But, there’s no place in the seasonal deep cleaning project for light-weight dusters. For the deep cleaning, break out a pile of dusting cloths and some sort of gentle liquid spray, like plain water or diluted non-aerosol all-surface cleaning spray (the tools of the great dusting tradition).
Final Thoughts Before You Embark on Dusting
Always remember the first rule of dusting is to cooperate with gravity. Gravity makes dust fall onto the floor from the things you dust above it. So, dust first, and sweep and vacuum afterward.
Well, you’re ready to dust! Just remember your training (which was just reading this article). And, go for it! You can do this. Of course, if you don’t want to do this, at least not on a regular basis, then don’t forget that you at least need to get pumped for seasonal cleaning.