What causes dust build up and how can we keep it to a minimum?
October 17, 2006 7:36 AM   Subscribe

What causes dust build up and how can we keep it to a minimum?

My wife and I have lived in our apartment for a little over a year and we've always had a pretty bad problem with dust building up all over the apartment.

I'd like to think we're a clean couple of folks. We vacuum every week or two amongst other cleaning.

Is this an issue with an air filter of some sort? What is it that causes all the dust to build up in the first place? What could be a solution for this?
posted by JPigford to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You've got to vacuum more frequently to really stay on top of dust. You should also dust before vacuuming with a damp cloth or furniture polish (so you don't just send the dust flying around the room). It might also help to vacuum your upholstered furniture with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Speaking of which ... it does have a good filter on it, doesn't it?

As to where it comes from ... I've lived in an old apartment with exposed wood beams, and those things just shedded dust and dirt and general nastiness. Do you have any exposed unfinished wood?
posted by robinpME at 8:03 AM on October 17, 2006

oooh, and you have pugs, right? dogs bring all sorts of dirt into the house (and hair!) and stir up whatever's lying around so it resettles on furniture, counters, etc.
posted by robinpME at 8:05 AM on October 17, 2006

For one thing, duvets and feather pillows leak their fluff. woolen blankets and clothing shed their fibers, and to some extent other fabrics do as well, including carpets.

Depending where you live, if there is a lot of wind and a dry atomosphere, you get dust of a different, mineral sort.

Then there is the animal sort of "dust", the dander from pets and bits of your own skin, hair. All of this gets tangled up and thats how dust bunnies are born.

It is said that every square kilometer of the earth contains dust particles from every other square kilometer of the earth. Daily dusting is--as Melville said in Moby Dick--is a reminder of our mortality. And evidently everybody elses mortality, since ages-old human "dust" is no doubt conmingled with all the other airborn particles that make up the breathable atmosphere.

Well, it could be otherwise, if we were fish for example. It is also said that every organic particle lin the oceans has gone through the digestive system of at least one creature.

Roz Chast had a funny cartoon a while back where she said if you don't dust frequently like your mother tells you, eventually your furniture will explode. Probably true!
posted by subatomiczoo at 8:09 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Most dust comes in from air that may sweep in from the outside and from your skin cells shedding. Regular dusting, even if you don't see the dust, goes a long way. You mentioned you live in an apartment, and I assume the air is centralized, but I've found that a good air filter goes a long way... like instead of the standard fibreglass ones, a "thicker" filter will catch more particles floating in the air.

As well, if you have the cash to spend on it, an air purifier may also help.
posted by perpetualstroll at 8:19 AM on October 17, 2006

I've noticed that my air purifier has really cut down on the amount of dust getting into my condo from the renovations next door. Also, a good way to cut down on dust is to make sure that your door jams are tight and sealed. It is pretty gross how much dirt can sneak its way into your house just from the wind blowing around.

Also, try really quick static-type dusting, I would suggest a Swiffer duster, it does a really great super quick job with little to no effort every three or four days.
posted by banannafish at 8:27 AM on October 17, 2006

Always take your shoes off whenever you go inside (and to be more extreme, have guests do the same). That cuts down on the dirt/dust a ton.
posted by inigo2 at 8:38 AM on October 17, 2006

I second Swiffering. It's really easy to maneuver it all over the floor into crevices to pick up hard-to-reach dust. I also use a cloth to dust furniture, etc. I try to do that every day and it definitely keeps the dust bunnies at bay.
posted by radioamy at 8:39 AM on October 17, 2006

Oh you also need a HEPA filter on your vac. I recommend the Miele White Star - pricey but worth it. Very light weight and easy to use.
posted by radioamy at 8:43 AM on October 17, 2006

I've heard that dust is like 90% skin. So...pumice in the shower?

(ever seen Gattaca? that appt. was spotless)
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:49 AM on October 17, 2006

I've noticed that since we got a roomba and started using it *every day* that our place gets much less dusty. We got the roomba for dog hair control, but the dust reduction is a huge plus. The roomba isn't a complete replacement for piloted vacuuming, but it really cuts down on the ambient fur.
posted by ambrosia at 9:07 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Vacuum your pets. I've had friends that do that, and it seems to help.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:50 AM on October 17, 2006

Humidifier, HEPA vacuum, sealing up cracks in doors and windows, moisturizer, keeping pets washed, shoes off, Blue Air filter. That's my system.
posted by jeanmari at 12:39 PM on October 17, 2006

You do need to vacuum more often, and since vacuuming itself can kick up dust that won't settle for a while after you vacuum, I keep a big spray bottle with a weak mix of fabric softener to water. I mist that over the carpet about half an hour before I vacuum, and that both helps weigh the dust down and keep static from binding it (and all the animal hair) to the carpet.

Make sure to vacuum any furniture you can; it'll collect dust that gets kicked up every time someone sits down.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:42 PM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

Check the air filters on your heat ducts--these should be changed twice per year and may make a huge difference.
posted by Riverine at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2006

"Dust doesn't get any thicker after four years." (Quentin Crisp). (sorry, couldn't resist).
posted by Goofyy at 4:16 AM on October 18, 2006

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