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Why Does Dust Accumulate So Quickly After You Clean?

No, you're not seeing things—dust really does seem to build up faster on recently wiped-down surfaces. Here's how to slow the course.

woman dusting furniture

CREDIT: VADIMGUZHVA / GETTY IMAGES

By Lauren Wellbank

If you examine your freshly dusted furniture, electronics, and knick-knacks a day after you clean, you might notice some residual debris. You didn't miss a spot: According to Vera Peterson, the president of Molly Maid, dust moves that fast. "On freshly clean, beautiful surfaces, you're more likely to notice dust when it accumulates," she notes. "However, if your dusting method isn't efficient, you might be stirring up more dust than you are trapping." Ahead, her best tips for removing this household nuisance—and keeping it at bay for longer.

To prevent more dust, change your cleaning method and use the right tools. 

The most efficient way to dust is with a top-down approach, notes Peterson. "When dusting, work from top to bottom—dust first, then vacuum, " she says, to prevent having to vacuum twice (before and after you dust). And while feather dusters were once a popular tool to sweep a variety of surfaces, a microfiber cloth is best: "This will gather the dust, instead of just pushing it around," she explains. Working with a cloth will also cut down on the amount of particulate you kick up and into your home—which tends to land on your freshly cleaned tables and appliances, leading to faster accumulation.

Identify any dust-enhancing culprits. 

If you have noticed that your home seems dustier than it should, there may be a surprise culprit: your HVAC filter. "An electrostatic-charged furnace filter attracts and captures dust particles which reduces the amount of dust floating in your home," Peterson explains. "Also, be sure you're dusting and vacuuming often (that's a given!) and regularly grooming your pets."

Dust often. 

Maintaining a dust-free space is so much easier than doing a deep clean after waiting too long. "If you really want to keep your home dust-free, dust at least twice per week, especially if you suffer from allergies," says Witulski. "That's not always feasible for everyone, so at least hit the areas you touch most (like furniture, remotes, and household technologies) once a week. Then, you can focus on those often-overlooked areas (think your ceilings, blinds, and doorways) less frequently. Aim to reach those about once a month!" 

Turn to microfiber. 

Forget that old school feather duster—it only pushes dust around. A simple microfiber cloth and water will get the job done and won't introduce any unnecessary chemicals into your home. Thanks to the cloth's unique structure, fibers are able to grab onto dust, trapping it instead of swirling it around your surfaces. For light dust, you can use a dry cloth; if it's stubborn, a damp rag will work better, especially on glass.

Dust from top to bottom. 

"Always dust your room from top to bottom," adds Witulski. "This seems obvious, but many people forget this step which ultimately duplicates your work (or leaves your home dusty)." First, hit the ceiling, corners, molding, and light fixtures. Can't reach those high-up areas? Wrap a flat-top mop with your microfiber cloth "to get into those high crevices," she explains.

As you work your way down the walls, wipe down any décor or frames before moving on to lampshades, furniture, and objects (be sure to move furniture and objects around so you're getting to untouched areas, such as the space under your television or couch). Don't forget to dust past the edge of a surface as well, if the cloth stops on the edge it will leave a line of dust. Finally, it's time to vacuum. At this point, most of the dust has either been picked up by your microfiber towel or fallen to the floor, which is why you should vacuum last. Take your time, and make sure to move your machine in more than one direction to pick up all of the dust and dirt.

Focus on prevention. 

Want to dust less? Don't let it into the house in the first place. "Most dust is brought into your home through the front the door. Place a wipe-off mat at the entrance of your home to trap the dust before it spreads. These mats should be cleaned or shaken out once a week," says Witulski. "Besides dusting regularly, remove your shoes when you enter your home and change your vacuum bag and filter regularly. But do this outside, so you don't spread more dust!"

Call in the pros if you need to. 

While most homeowners are able (and willing) to stay on top of the maintenance that lowers the amount of dust and debris that accumulates on your furniture, electronics, and knick-knacks, nothing will beat the clean a true professional can provide, says our expert. They can target high-touch areas (which tend to be the dirtiest) and provide you with a fresh canvas. After all, keeping your home tidy and dust-free is a lot easier when you're simply touching up hot spots, as opposed to tackling deep cleans.

 

Lauren is a freelance writer for MarthaStewart.com.

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