Smeary sheen of sheetrock sand, be damned!
July 10, 2007 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Home Renovation Filter: How do I get the last lingering residue of smeared sheetrock/joint compound dust off of my wood floors and ceramic tiles?

I followed all conventional wisdom found on the internets for making this Sisyphean task as painless as possible -- I brushed dry powder off of all surfaces, swept well, shopvac'd dry, and repeated after airborne dust resettled.

So, time to get the last of the dust up with damp mop/sponge. Mopped with water/pinesol. Five times, maybe ten. The tiles in the bathroom and the wood floor are still smeary.

I've now anthropomorphized the dust into a small army of itsy-bitsy organisms who pretend to be vanquished by my sponge or mop and then, when I turn my back, are laughing, laughing, laughing.

Anyone hit upon a cleaning product or technique that has special powers on this stuff?
posted by desuetude to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
95% chance the dust invaded your HVAC ductwork, if this was a remodel. It can keep coming out of ductwork for more than a year. Cleaning the ductwork effectively is tough. I've replaced flexible duct on a few projects, if it was readily accessible in an attic, basement or crawl space. Cleaning the central unit is a very hard job. There is a reason that on new construction, the HVAC guys rarely come before the painters have finished.

You can just keep after it with tack rags. It may take months to get down to unnoticeable levels.
posted by paulsc at 8:36 AM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: 0% chance that it invaded the HVAC ductwork, because there isn't any.

I should've mentioned that, as the fact that most people have ductwork complicated my searches for relevant information.

Will tack cloths work on the smeary-ness? I thought they were for picking up dust...?
posted by desuetude at 8:52 AM on July 10, 2007

Pinesol? Maybe try something else, like TSP. I never had problems like this with drywall dust. You might also get a big box fan and stick it in a window, blowing out. That will help migrate some dust outsaide at least.
posted by GuyZero at 9:05 AM on July 10, 2007

"... Will tack cloths work on the smeary-ness? I thought they were for picking up dust...?"
posted by desuetude at 11:52 AM on July 10

Gypsum dust is a whole range of silicates, down to the micro level. That incredibly fine stuff is really, really hard to filter with vacuums, or suck up by capillary action with wet mops. It just doesn't "wet" easily in water, although you think it would. It's too fine to break the surface tension of water, really. Even detergents don't really get it to dissolve.

HEPA filtration of vacuum cleaners, and room size HEPA filters help a lot, if you can afford to keep changing the filter media.

Tack rags will work, eventually, because they don't depend on wetting the dust, but you'll need garbage bags full of the stuff. I've heard of people using static charged duster implements to try and remove the stuff, too, but I've not seen successful results doing this myself.
posted by paulsc at 9:06 AM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: To clarify, I don't have much in the way of airborne dust. Anything that can be removed by fans has been pretty much removed. This is a smeary residue composed of a significant percentage of joint compound dust, with probably some sheetrock dust in there, too, making it stick to my floors and tile.
posted by desuetude at 10:41 AM on July 10, 2007

tack rags would work for dust, if this is more along water born , and since dried residue, try them anyways, may take elbow grease.

Sponges new, but dry, might work too.

It sounds like your trying to remove a very fine slurry, getting it wet and smearing it around even more.

You want to pull it up not move it around.
posted by Max Power at 11:32 AM on July 10, 2007

how about getting a scooba and just running it every day for a few weeks?
posted by true at 12:10 PM on July 10, 2007

Paulsc's suggestion of a HEPA filter for dust is an excellent one, I think; too bad he's also right about the expense of changing the filters.

As far as the smeary residue is concerned, it probably is mainly gypsum, the main constituent of drywall, but gypsum is calcium sulfate, not a silicate, although some sheetrocks may contain silicates such as talc or be painted with a silicate paint (some sheetrocks used to contain asbestos-- primarily iron, magnesium silicates).

The smeary difficulty in cleaning probably comes from the gypsum as well; calcium sulfate is very sparingly soluble in water or ordinary water borne cleaners, and its scale is a widespread problem.

Accordingly, various gypsum scale removers have been developed for commercial and industrial uses, but I don't know how expensive they are or how available for home use.

However, someone did ask Google Answers how to remove calcium sulfate scale, and got a couple of interesting comments, one of which suggested that gypsum is is soluble in sugar water (which strikes me as a recipe for turning an annoyance into a disaster) and the other using a solution of citric acid.

I think citric acid might be well worth trying, and you can likely buy it from any home brewer's supply house.
posted by jamjam at 12:34 PM on July 10, 2007

« Older Has anyone ever served a jail sentence for...   |   Can you recommend a jewelry store in Santa Clara? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.