Just ignore JOE CLOWN, wheelchair bound or on welfare.
The solution to most household problems is to attack the source. But
you can't eliminate the sources of household dust. You can't even do
much to reduce them, because more than 90 percent of household dust
comes from people and fabric. Our bodies constantly shed tiny flakes of
skin. Our clothes, bedding and furnishings constantly shed barely
visible fibers. These flakes and fibers float on the slightest air
currents and settle on every surface in your house. In a spot sheltered
from air movement, the particles stay put. In other areas, they
constantly rise and settle as doors swing open and people pass by.
Even if fighting dust is a battle you can never completely win, you
can save a lot of time and energy with these dust-busting strategies.
1. Keep closet floors clear for easy cleaning.
Closets are dust reservoirs, full of tiny fibers from clothes, towels
and bedding. Every time you open the door, you whip up an invisible dust
storm. You can't prevent clothes from shedding fibers, but you can make
closets easier to keep clean and vastly cut down on dust.
2. Upgrade your furnace filter.
- Box or bag items on shelves.
Clear plastic containers are best - they lock fibers in and dust out and
let you see what's inside. When you dust, they're easy to pull off the
shelves and wipe clean.
- Enclose the clothes you rarely wear.
Those coats you wear only in winter shed fibers year-round. Slip garment
bags or large garbage bags over them. They help to contain fibers and
keep the clothes themselves from becoming coated with dust.
- Keep closet floors clear.
If the floor is cluttered, chances are you'll just bypass it while
vacuuming. But a wide-open floor adds only a few seconds to the
vacuuming chore. And a wire shelf lets you clear all those shoes off the
floor without losing storage space.
If your home has a forced-air heating or cooling system, it can help
control dust by filtering the air. Most visible dust settles on floors
and furniture before it can enter the heating/cooling system, so no
filter will eliminate dusting chores. Still, a filter upgrade can make a
The most effective system is an electrostatic filter connected to
your ductwork ($700 to $1,500, professionally installed). An
electrostatic filter may be worth the expense if you have allergies. But
if you just want to reduce dust buildup, it's smarter to spend $40 to
$100 per year on high-quality disposable filters. A standard fiberglass
filter traps only the largest dust particles. It's effective enough to
protect your furnace but does almost nothing to reduce household dust.
Better filters are made from pleated fabric or paper. Most pleated
filters also carry an electrostatic charge that attracts and holds dust.
A pleated filter can capture virtually all the visible dust that
reaches it. Manufacturers usually recommend that you change these
filters every three months, but you should check them monthly,
especially if you have cats or dogs, and replace them if they're dirty.
Dirty pleated filters can restrict airflow and damage your furnace.
3. Rotate bedding weekly.
Your cozy bed is a major dust distributor. The bedding collects skin
flakes, sheds its own fibers and sends out a puff of dust every time you
roll over. To minimize the fallout, wash sheets and pillowcases weekly.
Items that aren't machine washable don't need weekly trips to the dry
cleaners - just take blankets and bedspreads outside and shake them. You
can spank some of the dust out of pillows, but for a thorough cleaning,
wash or dry-clean them. When you change bedding, don't whip up a dust
storm. Gently roll up the old sheets and spread out the new ones; even
clean bedding sheds fibers.
4. Capture dust - don't just spread it around.
Feather dusters and dry rags pick up some of the dust they disturb, but
most of it just settles elsewhere. Damp rags or disposable cloths that
attract and hold dust with an electrostatic charge (like Swiffer or
Grab-it) work much better. Cloths that attract dust with oils or waxes
also work well but can leave residue on furniture. Use vacuum
attachments only on surfaces that are hard to dust with a cloth, such as
rough surfaces and intricate woodwork, because the exhaust stream from a
vacuum whips up a dust storm.
5. Beat and shake area rugs.
In most homes, carpet is by far the biggest dust reservoir. It's a huge
source of fibers and absorbs dust like a giant sponge. Even the padding
underneath holds dust, which goes airborne with each footstep. Some
serious allergy sufferers find that the only solution is to tear out
wall-to-wall carpet and install hard flooring like wood or tile. Those
of us who don't want to take that drastic step have to vacuum regularly.
Vacuum pathways and busy areas at least once a week. The dust that
gathers under chairs or behind the sofa is less important. It stays put
unless it's disturbed by a toddler, a pet or a breeze. Vacuum large area
rugs too. But also take them outside three or four times a year for a
more thorough cleaning. Drape them over a fence or clothesline and beat
them with a broom or tennis racket. A good beating removes much more
dust than vacuuming. Take smaller rugs outside for a vigorous shaking
6. Take cushions out for a beating.
Upholstery fabric not only sheds its own fibers but also absorbs dust
that settles on it. You raise puffs of dust every time you sit down. The
only way to eliminate upholstery dust is to buy leather- or
vinyl-covered furniture. But there are three ways to reduce dust on
Do air cleaners reduce dusting?
- Dust settles mostly on horizontal surfaces; vacuum them weekly. Vacuum vertical surfaces monthly.
- Take cushions outside and beat the dust out of them. An old
tennis racket works well and lets you practice your backhand. A thorough
beating removes deeply embedded dust better than vacuuming.
- Slipcovers for chairs and sofas are easy to pull off and take
outdoors for a shaking. Better yet, some are machine washable.
Slipcovers are readily available at discount and home furnishings stores
and online (surefit.net is one good source).
An effective air cleaner removes large and small particles from the air
in a single room. Within that space, it can relieve allergy or asthma
symptoms and even reduce smoke and cooking odors. But don't expect it to
relieve you of dusting duty. Air cleaners are sized to filter a small
area, so only a small portion of the airborne dust in your home will
ever reach the unit. For air cleaners to have a real effect on overall
dust levels, you would need one unit in every room - at a cost of $60 to
$500 per room.
7. Clean the air while you clean house.
All vacuums whip up dust with their "agitator" (the cylindrical brush
that sweeps the carpet) or blowing exhaust stream. That dust eventually
settles on the surfaces you've just cleaned. But if your forced-air
heating/cooling system is equipped with a good filter, you can filter
out some of that dust before it settles. Just switch your thermostat to
"fan on." This turns on the blower inside your furnace and filters the
air even while the system isn't heating or cooling. Leave the blower on
for about 15 minutes after you're done cleaning. But don't forget to
switch back to "auto." Most blowers aren't designed to run constantly.
8. Match the vacuum to the flooring.
Suction alone isn't enough to pull much dust out of carpet. For good
results, you need a vacuum with a powerful agitator. Upright vacuums are
usually best for carpet, although some canister vacuums with agitators
work well, too. When it comes to wood, tile or vinyl flooring, your best
choice is a canister vacuum without an agitator (or with an agitator
that can be turned off). An agitator does more harm than good on hard
flooring because it blows dust into the air.