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How to reduce dust in your apartment

Everything you need to know about dust so you can rid your apartment from it
By
Published on November 28, 2023
Written by
Amparo Lopez
Amparo is a staff writer for HouseFresh, having joined us in 2023. She is a sustainability advocate, holding degrees in communications, human-centered design and environmental policy. Her work has a focus on air pollution and climate change.
TL;DR

While no apartment is strange to dust, an inadequate routine and the wrong cleaning tools can just stir up lint and debris instead of actually removing them. 

My three top tips:

  1. Clean your apartment from top to bottom with the mighty microfiber cloth.
  2. Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter while you clean to reduce the amount of dust stirring into the air and resettling in already cleaned surfaces.
  3. Leave vacuuming and mopping floors for last. Make sure your vacuum is regularly emptied and cleaned for optimal performance.

Dust never sleeps; that’s a well-known fact. 

The reality is that dust is a typical household issue that we must deal with pretty much every day. You can probably relate to the frustration that comes with finding dust in the places you cleaned just the day before.

Thart’s why the key is to clean often, and to clean properly.

A proactive approach will prevent grime buildups, nasty dust bunnies under the couch and crud nooks and crannies. 

But what and where should you pay the most attention? And what can you do to keep dust at reasonable levels? I bring you some tricks and tips to keep on top of the problem. 

10 professional tips for dusting an apartment properly

As I mentioned above, regular cleaning is paramount. Yet, how to do it is as important as the frequency. So, why not press play on your favorite podcast and dive into a cleaning session following these tips: 

Tip 1: Dust with a microfiber cloth

Start by wiping dust off every surface in your apartment: tables, counters, shelves, knickknacks and electronics with a slightly damp microfiber cloth. 

Microfiber is known to trap dust particles better than other fabrics thanks to the super tiny threads and synthetic nature that work like a magnet for dirt, oil and grease. Microfiber cloths will grab the dust instead of just pushing it off objects and stirring it into the air to resettle in other surfaces.

Add the following ingredients to a spray bottle:

  • 2 cups of water,
  • 1 cup of vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • Optional: a few drops of your favorite essential oil

The vinegar will help cut through grime; the olive oil will polish and keep dust away longer. Spray the surfaces (except for electronics) and then wipe them clean with the rag. Always shake before using.

Tip 2: Clean places you don’t usually dust

Dust will accumulate on all sorts of surfaces, including those you don’t regularly reach in your everyday routine. Remove lint build ups from forgotten spots either with a microfiber cloth or vacuum them with suitable vac attachments. The more diligently you clean these overlooked areas, the less dust will circulate throughout your home. 

Here’s a list of usually overlooked spots, but get creative! Try to tackle as many dust-hiding places in your apartment as possible:

  • Windows (glasses, ledges, sills and blinds) 
  • Ceiling fans
  • Above doors and frames 
  • Kitchen cabinets (inside and above)
  • Above the fridge
  • Light fixtures and light switches
  • Baseboards
  • Mirrors
  • Wall corners
  • Bookshelves (including the books)
  • Plants (their leaves accumulate dust that’s not just bad for you but also for them. Wipe them gently with a wet cloth)
Tip

As these are quite different surfaces if you switch cleaners to suit the needs of each one better, use another cloth to avoid mixing cleaners.

Look for high-quality cloths that will degrade less quickly and shed fewer microplastics. Or consider using a slightly damp Swedish dishcloth if you prefer a more natural option. These are made of organic materials and compostable.

Tip 3: Vacuum beyond the floor, always starting with upholstery and curtains

You want to vacuum in the right order to cut down on dust efficiently. Start with the couch, upholstered furniture, curtains and drapery. Textiles don’t just accumulate unseen debris but also decay into textile dust, producing unwanted stuff on their own. 

After dusting and vacuuming fabrics, move on to the floors. Follow this sequence so that if anything redeposits on the floors, you’ll get it at the end. You’ll be preventing dust fallouts on already-cleaned surfaces.

Tip

Follow these tips to make vacuuming even more efficient:

  • Empty the canister of your bagless vac after every use. Wrap a disposable bag around the lid before opening it to make sure the dust falls directly into it.
  • Take the trash outside immediately after emptying your vacuum cleaner’s contents inside of it. Dust may reenter your living space if it sits in the trash can.
  • Keep your vacuum clean and unclogged; otherwise, the suction power could get compromised.

Consider getting a vacuum with a HEPA filter. They are way more efficient than regular ones, which usually shoot dust out the back end.

Tip 4: Use a rake on carpets and rugs

Carpets accumulate great amounts of dust that settles deep into the fibers and is hard to remove by just vacuuming —  even if you do so regularly. A rake will shake loose a lot of lint, hair and debris, making it much easier for the vacuum to suck it all up.

Tip

This is more of a deep-clean, hands-on monthly task. However, bear in mind this will blow dirt into the air. Don’t save it for the end; you’ll get dust all over the recently cleaned room again.

Tip 5: Mop uncarpeted floors after vacuuming

A swift mopping with a microfiber mop is the perfect final touch. It will remove any dust leftovers and crud spots. Use warm water and your favorite cleaner to leave your apartment smelling fresh. 

Just remember to wring the mop thoroughly until it’s just slightly damp; otherwise, dirty water can seep between cracks and under baseboards.

Tip

If you’re looking for more natural and safer floor cleaners, the EPA has a database with their Safer Choice Standard products.

Tip 6: Change the bedclothes weekly

We spend one-third of our lives in bed on average. No wonder mattresses, blankets, pillows and duvets accumulate our (and our pets) dead skin cells, dander and stray hairs. All of these are food for dust mites, microscopic bugs that nest in four out of five homes in the U.S. and are known to be one of the most common indoor allergens.

Once a week, remove the bed linen and shake out pillows and duvets to reduce dust and debris buildups. Vacuum the mattresses after allowing the bed to air out. Use essential oils for a final scented touch before making it up again.

Tip

Tea tree oil and lavender are fine options for a bed freshen-up that will also kill dust mites. Fill a spray bottle with cereal alcohol or vodka and a few drops of essential oil to splash on the mattress and pillows before putting in fresh sheets.

Make sure to wash the following with hot water:

  • Bed sheets, duvet covers, pillow covers.
  • Stuffed toys
  • Blankets and bed throws

Also, you can throw them into the washer every once in a while for an extra heat boost. Even if you’re not in contact with them, all fabrics will collect dust, dead skin cells and dander.

Tip 7: Clean vents and air filters

Vents and air filters are most susceptible to dust. If you happen to notice more lint and dirt than usual in your apartment, it’s probably time to change the filters. More than often, air filters get replaced every six months, but depending on the type of filter and area you live in, they might need replacement sooner. 

When cleaning the vents, vacuum away as much dust as possible first. Then, take down all the removable parts and soak them in soapy water to loosen any grime. Scrub gently with a brush and let it dry completely before returning it. While it dries, use the vacuum to clean the dust from the vent inside as well.

Tip

You may as well check the exhaust fans from the kitchen and bathroom for crud buildups. Vacuum the units to remove as much debris as possible.

Tip 8: Use an air purifier

An air purifier will drastically reduce the amount of dust floating in the air and settling around your apartment. Air purifiers remove all kinds of particles from the air as their fans pull it in and through the filters – over 99% of particles smaller than 0.3 microns will get trapped in a high-quality air purifier’s HEPA filter. 

Our top recommendation for dust in a large apartment is the Levoit EverestAir, a beautifully designed unit with a powerful fan and a three-stage air filtration system. If you’re on a budget or would like to tackle dust in a small room of up to 219 sq. ft., then the Levoit Core 300S is your best bet. For those who are not bothered by the use of an ionizer, the Coway Airmega AP-1512hh is an excellent choice as it’s a powerful unit with an on/off ionizer function that will supercharge its dust-busting abilities.

Tip

An air purifier is an excellent ally for dusting chores. Have it on and running in the room you are cleaning; it will reduce the amount of lint flying into the air and resettling in already cleaned surfaces.

Tip 9: Clean your dryer machine

Dryers have a lint trap to prevent all that debris from getting blown outside the machine and into your apartment. The trap is not more than a screen mesh inside the dryer, but when clogged, the pressure of the cycle itself will make it renter the drum, leaking all the lint into your clothes and the surrounding air.

Tip

Check the dryer’s manual for instructions on how to clean the lint trap. Make sure to clean it regularly. The frequency will vary based on the pace at which lint accumulates.

Tip 10: Brush your pets in an easy-to-clean room

Regularly brushing and grooming your pets is a proactive way to keep up with their hair and dander circulating throughout your apartment, especially during the shedding seasons. However tempting as it may seem to brush them on the living room or bedroom, any fluff that escapes the brush will land on your couch, bed or rug and stick to the fabrics’ fibers. 

Tip

If possible, choose a space with no carpet to groom your pets. Otherwise, take your pet-brushing sessions to the room in your apartment with as little fabric or textile as possible around.

Why is your apartment so dusty?

Dust does not come from just one source. It’s not uniform, nor is its composition universal. Instead, multiple elements could be building onto the dust you see in your apartment — which also varies based on the local environment and your home biome

In a regular home, dust is usually made up of a combination of the following:

  • Skin cells and hair: our skin is constantly regenerating and fully renews every four weeks. Humans also lose over 50 to 100 hairs a day in normal circumstances. That means a lot of dead skin cells and hair are naturally shed into the environment regularly.
  • Pet dander: just like us humans, our pets also shed their fair amount of microscopic bits of dead skin and fur that will accumulate in your apartment if you don’t vacuum and clean upholstery regularly.
  • Textile fibers: this includes your clothes as well as bedroom linen, couches and upholstered furniture, curtains, carpets and rugs. Textiles are all over our homes, making them cozier. However, with time, all textiles naturally degrade and shed fibers that contribute to the dust forming around us.
  • Paper fibers: even toilet and tissue paper, as well as paper towels, are contributing to your household dust.
  • Food and cooking activities: while you are cooking, tiny food particles are released into the air and become airborne, eventually depositing and adding to the duts. Food debris, like crumbs, may also end up on the floor.
  • Insects: household dust also includes bits of insect remains, including those of dust mites, cockroaches and even the bug pests in your plants. When they die, these microscopic, creepy-crawly housemates end up building up on the airborne and settled dust around your apartment. 
  • Pollen: an outdoor biological pollutant, pollen is produced by trees, grasses, flowers and weeds. One of the main components of household dust, the wind stirs and carries the airborne pollen particles into your apartment. It’s more intense during spring when trees and other plants pollinate. Yet, depending on the local vegetation, pollen season can go year-round.
  • Dirt and other outdoor particles: When you walk into your home wearing outdoor shoes, you’ll be inadvertently introducing small particles of soil. Soot from nearby streets, stirred-up street dust from passing cars and debris from nearby construction sites are also prone to enter through doors, cracks and windows.
  • Mold spores: mold is everywhere, even if there are no leaks in your apartment and it is well-maintained mold and mildew-wise, spores can enter your home through windows and doors.

Will any air purifier help with household dust?

As mentioned earlier, an air purifier is an efficient and practical way to help reduce dust in your apartment. However, choosing the right one for the task is essential. 

There are two main things to consider: 

  • Filter type: dust particles can vary between 1 and 100 microns in size, so the filter should be able to capture the smallest airborne particles to be effective. HEPA filters have been proven to be the most efficient filtration system, able to capture at least 99.7% of particles as small as 0.3 microns.
  • CADR: Each air purifier is designed to perform in a specific square meter area. The dimensions of the room where you’ll place the air purifier will affect its performance. The CADR indicates an air purifier’s capacity to clean the air in a determined room size. Use our CFM (cubic feet per minute) calculator to find what CADR would suit your needs:

If you measure the space where you will use the air purifier, you can use the CADR score as a guidance to help you find the best unit for you – provided that the unit you pick has the right time of air filters, of course!

You can use our handy calculator to find out what CADR score your air purifier needs to have in order to be able to clean the air in your space effectively:

Tip

We compiled a list of the best air purifiers to remove dust. But why trust us? Because we don’t settle with what manufacturers say about their products. We have been reviewing air purifiers for over ten years, experimenting with all the units we write about, buying them with our own money to put them to the test and making unbiased, trustworthy reviews. 

Final thoughts

I guess there’s a subtle charm to dust. It’s in the fact that it tells the story of those who inhabit a home; it has trails of our habits, our feeding patterns and our ways of living. 

That being said, and in a much more grounded sense, we are all in the big fight against dust. A dust-free apartment with no allergy triggers and a healthy environment to spend our day looks and feels better. 

Luckily, that is absolutely achievable. Just keep up your regular dusting routine and take the time to make a deep-cleaning session once in a while.

SOURCES

 

About the author

Amparo Lopez

Amparo is a staff writer for HouseFresh, having joined us in 2023. She is a sustainability advocate, holding degrees in communications, human-centered design and environmental policy. Her work has a focus on air pollution and climate change.