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Dust is inevitable. That’s because dust is buildup created by airborne particles of fine, dry matter — pollen, skin flakes, fabric particles, dirt and sand. Just about anything in your home, and outside of it for that matter, can add to the amount of dust in your home. Because of this, it can seem like you can never completely get rid of dust — and that's a problem not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because household invaders like dust mites can cause issues for allergy sufferers, according to the Asthma and Allergy foundation of America.
But there are a few things that can help to really cut down on the amount of dust in your home. For starters, keep your windows closed to help prevent pollen and other outdoor pollutants from infiltrating your rooms. To prevent dust, you should also consider placing doormats in front of every entrance and vacuuming often if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, which tends to trap dust. Mattresses can be another hot-spot for dust mites, so make sure yours is in a mattress protector, plus it helps to buy bedding and pillows that can be regularly washed in hot water.
For the best results, you’ll also likely want to amend your current cleaning routine, too, says cleaning expert Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Home Care & Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. According to her, you should be dusting your furniture once per week and doing a deeper dust — think light fixtures and blinds — once per month. Every three to six months, you'll also want to clean under and behind furniture, vacuum mattresses and wash pillows and comforters.
But this is just the starting point. Because dust is so prevalent, you’ll find it in just about every nook and cranny of your home — some harder to reach than others. Here you’ll find targeted strategies for getting rid of dust in all areas of your house, plus the best tools for making it happen.
For basic dusting
First, put down the feather duster. No matter what you may have been told, they are far from helpful. "This tool simply spreads dust from one surface to another," Carolyn says. Instead, you can more successfully capture dust with a soft cloth lightly dampened with water or a furniture dusting spray, a microfiber duster or an electrostatic duster, which use static electricity to pick up more dust particles.
For dusting electronics
Computers, speakers, printers and TVs are notorious dust magnets. Always unplug the equipment before cleaning. A gentle swipe with a microfiber cloth usually does the job, while a soft, long-handled microfiber duster will collect dust from crevices. Be sure to vacuum dust from around cords and vents because, along with pet hair, it can clog machines or outlets.
For getting rid of dust on hardwood floors
Vacuum your hardwood floors at least weekly and wet clean them every one to two months (more or less frequently, depending on traffic). For surface-treated floors, spray a small 3-foot by 3-foot area with a hardwood floor cleaner like Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Spray and pick up any dissolved dirt with a microfiber mop. Repeat, working in small areas, until the entire floor is clean.
For dusting ceilings, walls and baseboards
For ceiling-to-floor cleaning, a top-performing vacuum with multiple attachments is the most efficient tool. Look for a machine that comes with a hose, extension wands and either a small round dusting brush or a bare floor brush, advises Carolyn. It's also helpful to look for a vacuum with a replaceable or washable HEPA filter, since these are capable of capturing smaller particles of dust. Alternatively, a dry Swiffer Sweeper works just as well, plus is a convenient option, because the cloth is disposable. When dusting walls, work from the top down to capture the most dust without making a mess.
For baseboards, start by vacuuming with the vacuum’s round brush to remove dust. Then, tackle dingy spots using a wet cloth. Lightly spray it with water or an all-purpose cleaning solution, like Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner and run it over baseboards to whisk debris away in a flash.
For getting rid of dust in carpets
When it comes to carpets, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. Try implementing a no-shoes-in-the-house rule, stashing extra slippers or flip-flops next to the door to help make it easier to adopt this new habit. You can also regularly use a rechargeable stick vacuum in your entryway to collect dirt before it makes its way into your carpet. It also helps to place doormats outside your door, so everyone can wipe their feet before they go inside.
Of course, you'll also want to clean your carpets with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter regularly. Our pros love the Miele Complete C3 Canister Vacuum, since it has a HEPA filter as well as five power settings to work on all carpet heights and densities.
For dusting ceiling fans
Turn off the power source, then remove loose dust with an extendable duster or the extension hose on your vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, you can grab a step stool and dust both sides of the blade with a dry microfiber cloth. To capture any remaining fine particles, wet a clean microfiber cloth with a grease-cutting all-purpose cleaner and wipe down both sides of the blades once more.
For dusting behind appliances
Over time, crumbs, grease and other debris accumulate behind your stove and refrigerator, providing a food source for insects and other pests. If possible, move the appliance out from the wall and unplug. Then, use your vacuum’s crevice tool attachment to remove loose dirt and dust. If any dust remains, you can use a long-handled, slightly damp sponge mop to lift dust from the back of the appliance. To finish, wipe down the floor and the wall with a microfiber cloth and hot sudsy water.
For dusting vents and filters
Remove heavy dust from ceiling, floor or appliance vents with a soft-brush vacuum attachment or electrostatic mop, like the Swiffer Sweeper). (You can also use a long-handled microfiber duster.) Then, dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe the surface.
And don't forget about your air conditioner filters — whether it's a window unit or a central air system, routine AC cleaning and maintenance is key to the performance and longevity of the unit. Always follow your unit's manufacturer cleaning recommendations, but you can usually wash removable foam window air-conditioning filters in hot soapy water, rinse well and air-dry before reinstalling.
For dusting curio cabinets
To get at dust trapped in tiny nooks and intricate carvings, use a clean natural-bristle paint or makeup brush, then wipe with a microfiber cloth.
For dusting fabric furniture and soft toys
Use a garment steamer on fabric furniture and bean bags, teddy bears or fabric dolls to release odors and kill dust mites near the surface, says Carolyn. Then, vacuum each one with your machine’s upholstery or fabric attachment. Some plush toys can also take a spin in the washing machine, but be sure to check the tag before doing so, otherwise you risk damaging the item.
For removing dust floating in the air
While regular cleaning will help keep the dust in your home to a minimum, the harsh reality is that you can never capture it all. But air purifiers really work to help capture some of what you may have missed — at least as far as household allergens like dust mites and pet dander are concerned. Run a top-rated air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter, like the Levoit Core 400S Smart True HEPA Air Purifier, all the time when you’re home.
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