Dusting: Tips, Tools & Prevention
Now that the weather is nice, windows and doors are kept wide open so we can enjoy all the lovely fresh air that we’ve been missing over the past winter–the downside to this is that with so many openings into the home, dirt accumulates throughout the house quicker than ever.
This buildup is one area of household maintenance that you can’t cheat on or hide: it’s there, it’s noticeable and it stays put (and grows!) until you do something about it. It can also affect the health of family members who have allergies and respiratory issues (such as asthma).
The good news is that although dusting needs to be done frequently, it isn’t a difficult task and you can take steps to prevent it from building up as quickly. Here are a few tips on how to do it effectively, various tools you can use, how to reduce the amount and a few hot spots to watch for.
- Tackle the job like a maid, start at the top and work your way down.
- Choose tools that will capture it rather than push it around.
- If surface has a thick buildup, do a dry wipe first then use a feather duster or wipe down well with either a damp or pre-treated cloth.
- Vacuum the room thoroughly afterwards, this will pick up particles that weren’t captured by the cloth.
- Feather Dusters: Invest in a good quality one made with ostrich feathers since they seem to do the best job (rather than pushing it around or releasing it in the air). These can handle both large surfaces and tight corners with ease.
- Variety of Brushes: Use for detail jobs in tight & tiny spaces, no expensive brushes required! Some ideas: Pastry Brush; Paint Brushes (both large and smaller artist brushes); Makeup Brushes; Toothbrush (soft); Shaving Brush (the old fashioned kind); Mascara Wand (cleaned); Aquarium Brushes. These were originally published on their own page January 2, 2007, and moved here for better organization.
- Vacuum: Use soft bristle brush attachments to vacuum upholstery, drapes and furniture. Vacuum floors and carpets thoroughly to grab dirt before it makes its way throughout the rest of the house.
- Mops & Swiffers: A quick daily mop keeps the dirt level controlled and reduces the amount tracked through the house. You can make your own swiffer cloths to save money and reduce waste (see this page).
- Pre-treated Cloths: To make them yourself: mix 1 cup hot water and 2 TBS lemon oil, dip squares of cheesecloth, flannel or regular rags, wring out and hang to air dry. You can also use a soft terry cloth lightly flicked with water (just wet your fingers underneath a tap then flick a few drops of water from your fingers onto the cloth). You can also use old socks, slip them over your hands or cut open. Commercial microfiber cloths work nicely too. Used dryer sheets are another recommended tool. (Recipe for pre-treated cloths was first published December 18, 2006, and moved to this page for better organization).
- Entrance Mats: Place mats at all entrances into the home to capture dirt on footwear.
- Remove Footwear: Keep outdoor shoes and footwear at the door instead of wearing them around the house, prevents dirt from being trekked through the home.
- Floor Vent Filters: You can pick up filters at the local hardware store that will fit inside your floor vents, this helps trap debris and prevents particles from flowing through the home when the air conditioner is running (or heat).
- Furnace Filters: Change regularly so the filters can do an optimal job of trapping dirt.
- Clean Furnace & Vents: Have your home’s furnace and ducts maintained professionally at least once a year.
Hot Spots To Watch:
- Drapes & Curtains: If these aren’t laundered regularly, they can hold a lot of dust (that gets released into the room as they’re brushed against or touched). If you don’t have the time to launder them regularly (or get them cleaned), shaking them outside helps remove a lot of the buildup too.
- Rugs & Mats: Regularly shake out floor mats, reduces the amount trekked throughout the home.
- Upholstered Furniture: Regularly vacuum or shake outside sofa cushions, footstools and other fabric covered items.
- Pets: Keep them well groomed, helps reduce hair and pet dander.
- Walls & Ceilings: If you don’t regularly wipe them down, walls & ceilings can hold an amazing amount of dust. Use dry mops for easy cleaning, they also do a good job of getting into high corners.
- Refrigerator & Appliances: Regularly clean the coils on the back of the refrigerator and pull out appliances–it’s amazing the amount of hairballs and dirt that accumulate back there.
- Electronics: Have you looked behind your tv lately? Or your computer? Electronics attract dust like crazy, make sure to pull out electronics and vacuum behind them frequently.
- Carpets: Vacuum regularly to lift up and remove dirt.
- Bedding: Lots of mites and dirt can get trapped in bedding (see this page). Launder regularly and vacuum mattresses frequently.
If you keep on top of things regularly, your reward will be a nice and freshly kept home :).
Did you know this handy little gadget can easily be washed, over and over again? Good quality ostrich feather dusters will hold up better than the cheapies, but if yours is this-close to being tossed because it’s worn down and heavy from all the dirt buildup, give this tip a try.
This job takes just a few minutes and can extend the lifetime of this handy tool, but only do so when needed (once or twice a year should do it).
- Fill a bucket or sink with lukewarm water and a little bit of gentle liquid dish detergent or baby shampoo. You want the water level to be deep enough to cover the feathers easily.
- Lay the it in the water, completely immersing it. Pick it up by the handle (keep the feathers in the water) then twist it fairly quickly left to right so that the moving water will swish through the feathers and push out dirt and any grime buildup. Do this for a minute or two being careful not to break the feathers.
- If you have a double sink, fill the other sink with clear lukewarm water, or empty the sink/bucket and fill with clear water. Submerge the soapy feathers into the water and dunk it up and down a few times, trying to remove as much soap as possible. Do a final rinse under running water until the water runs clear and there is no more soap.
- Gently tap it so excess water sprays into the sink. Then take it outside and forcefully shake it into the air several times to remove as much water as possible.
- Next, set it into a clean pop bottle (large), handle down so that the feathers stick out above the bottle. The pop bottle will hold it steady and allow the feathers to air dry. When the feathers are still damp (several hours later or overnight), take a hair dryer and blow them completely dry. The hair dryer will soften the feathers.
A Few Tips:
- If the handle is too thick to fit in the soda bottle, try cutting the top of the bottle to make room. A tall vase will work too.
- Hang it on the clothesline to dry if you have one, it’s perfectly fine to dry with the feathers down.
- If you find the feathers get a bit staticky, stick the handle down into a tall soda pop bottle and bring it into the bathroom when someone’s having a hot shower. The humidity will fix that problem right up!
- Shaking it out after every use will lengthen the time needed between washings. You can do this outside.
Brooms are an essential tool for a clean home, we use them on a daily basis to sweep up dirt, dust bunnies and spilled bits that accumulate on our floors. But when the bristles are full of grody bits, aren’t we just spreading dirt and germs around when we sweep with them?
You don’t have to wash it each and every time you sweep the floors, but doing so regularly will keep it in tip-top shape. Here’s how:
- First take the broom outside and try to shake and knock out any loose dirt. You can do this by knocking it against something like a large rock, the fence or a tree (not too hard that it will snap the broomstick).
- Nylon bristles can be soaked in a pail filled with hot water and your favorite household cleaner or bleach.
- Straw bristles can soak in a hot soapy solution.
- Rinse the bristles with clear hot water then let air dry outside (bristle side up).
Let the broom dry completely before using again. When you’re done washing it, why not give the dustpan a good soapy cleaning too? Takes just a minute to do!
A Few Tips:
- New brooms should be soaked in strong salt water before using to make them last longer (straw bristles).
- Add new life to fiber brooms by washing them occasionally in 2 quarts of warm water to which have been added 4 tablespoons of household ammonia. Let the bristles soak in this for half an hour. Rinse in clear warm water and then hang them up in a cool place to dry.
- Never stand it on its bristles in the closet. Screw cup-hook at the end of the handle and hang it up so the bristles don’t touch the floor. This prevents the brush from losing its shape or wearing out sooner than necessary.