Drywall dust nightmare
October 18, 2007 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Drywall dust has seemingly ruined my new couch -- and health.

We're at the tail-end of a major remodel. Stupidly I unpacked our new couch a month ago, to have somewhere to sit in the living room. It was left uncovered.

I'm noticing now that whenever I sit or lay on the couch I develop what must be an allergic reaction to the drywall dust and other effluvia that's been floating in the air during the last month, and settling into the couch fabric. There's been drywalling, painting, sanding, cutting, sawing, etc.

I've tried vacuuming the entire couch several times, but that doesn't seem to be helping much. My vacuum is just a regular home type machine. The fabric around the couch DOES come off (it's a very well-desgined velcro set up). But I can't see how dry cleaning it would help. But maybe I'm wrong.

I'm thinking of having my house cleaner take the cushions outside to beat them. And then vacuuming again, after that.

Any tips, professional advice, previous experience tales, etc. for remedying this situation?
posted by zenpop to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
1. One, two or more HEPA filters for the still-airborne particles that are floating around your home.

2. Rent/borrow/buy a quality vacuum with a HEPA or similar filter, or much of the dust you suck up from the couch will just become airborne again. Dyson's have some very good filtration (we picked one up to deal with our son's dust allergies, and we've been surprised at how effective it is) but there are other brands in this niche as well. The key, though, is good suction + very, very good filtration. Oh, and if at all possible move the couch outside and beat the cushions before you vacuum.

3. Repeat step two as necessary. There is still a lot of dust settling out of the air, and it will continue to settle for some time.

Good luck!
posted by mosk at 9:34 AM on October 18, 2007

Is there a chance you are reacting to the fabric, in addition to the dust?
posted by Carol Anne at 10:25 AM on October 18, 2007

I don't think so. I've never had trouble with various fabrics before, and the couch is from DWR -- expensive and well made, etc. I

t's definitely something related to the drywall dust, it triggers the worst reaction in my sinuses and on my tongue (!) I've had this happen before when exposed to drywalling going on in another house I was in. So I don't think it's the fabric.
posted by zenpop at 11:13 AM on October 18, 2007

New fabrics, particularly synthetic fabrics or blends will offgas. So will any fabric treated with a flame retardant or stain resistant coating. I'm not saying that you're not reacting to construction dust, but you may also be reacting to the chemicals coming off your new couch, especially if this is the only place you're having this breathing problem. Get some filters for your house, get your couch covers cleaned whatever way is recommended, and beat/vacuum the cushions, preferably outside.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2007

Since you say the couch is new did you use it much or at all before the remodeling? If not, I'd suspect the couch as well since it shouldn't be that hard to get the drywall dust out.
posted by 6550 at 12:43 PM on October 18, 2007

drywall dust is actually pretty sticky, as dust goes. It gets everwhere and stays there until you can get it out.

Do you have a wet/dry shop vac? A regular household vacuum won't pull enough of the dust out of the fabric, and the gypsum and dust isn't good for the machine.

Have you tried washing/dry cleaning the slipcover yet? If not, do it immediately. Think of it like you dumped dirt on your shirt. Sure, you can shake it out, but shaking won't get everything out. You need to actually CLEAN it.
posted by kumquatmay at 2:44 PM on October 18, 2007

Drywall dust is insidious; I found it for years after the idiot refused to put up dustsheets while sanding. With a hepa filter running, beat the couch with a broom repeatedly. Vacuum it many times, then vacuum it some more. You might, might, find that spritzing it with a mist of water will help.
posted by theora55 at 3:29 PM on October 18, 2007

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