Dust can be a nuisance for multiple reasons: Tiny particles of skin, dirt, and dander can coat the surfaces of your furniture and walls (making things look dingier), and also — as gross as it is — fill your lungs, which is why dust is often the underlying cause of allergies. Regular professional cleanings are often the best way to deal with dust, but on your own time, you can also keep your home fresh by avoiding clutter (a dust magnet), keeping windows closed, and laundering dusty linens and curtains.
Dusting surfaces regularly is also key, and by now we’ve come a long way from the traditional flouncy feather duster. Here, we asked ten professional cleaners to weigh in on the most efficient ways to get rid of dust in the home, and the best tools for the job.
For dusting surfaces
All ten professionals we spoke with recommended microfiber cloths for picking up dust. “Microfiber, thanks to its microscopically tiny weave, holds ten times more dirt per square inch than its cotton counterparts, so you will collect more dust and keep it from redepositing as you clean the next surface,” says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer for MaidPro. (If you’re curious about the classic feather duster, Jack Prenter, owner of Toronto cleaning company Chore Bliss, explains that they “don’t attract and trap dust, they just displace it and move it around your home.”)
To make sure you’re working efficiently (and won’t need to double back), you’ll want to dust from the top down, say Prenter and Homer, since particles can fall to the floor and circulate in the air when you’re wiping doors frames and shelves. A few spots that would be good to hit first are the tops of fan blades, blinds, paintings, door frames, and picture frames, says Kadi Dulude, the owner of New York’s Wizard of Homes cleaning service, because they’re often the most neglected. The inside of your radiator and the filters of your AC unit are two other places she calls out as dust traps.
If you’re aiming for a hard-to-reach cobweb or a dusty, far-off corner, you might need something longer. “One alternative is a microfiber duster, which is simply a microfiber cloth on an extendable pole,” says Prenter. These can be great for passing over lofty spots, but you might not even need one. “Most homes, in my experience, don’t have high ceilings and [spots that need dusting] can be easily reached with a small stepladder.”
A few people suggested spraying microfiber cloths with an all-purpose cleaner before use, to help them grip and remove dust better, as well as to disinfect surfaces. “If the item [being dusted] cannot tolerate any water, like a collectible or art piece, tickle-dust it with a fluffy microfiber duster over a surface you can wipe clean afterward,” says Homer. Here’s a biodegradable cleaner which Dulude says is an “all-time favorite.”
For dusting floors
The cleaning experts feel about brooms what they do about feather dusters: get rid of them. “Always vacuum your hard floors, never sweep,” says Homer. She explains that sweeping kicks as much dust back into the air as it does into your dustpan, while using a vacuum hose with a horsehair floor brush sucks everything up without scratching your hardwoods. “It will protect even the most delicate floors, like fine wood and marble, but actually extract and remove dust. Plus the vacuum cleans the dust out of your air as you clean the floor — double points.”
We’ve covered vacuums extensively, and would advise you to revisit our lists of the best stick, handheld, cheap, and robot vacuums. Just to cover our bases, though, we polled some of our experts on their favorites here, too. Prenter mentioned Shark vacuums “because they are essentially cheaper clones of Dyson, with similar longevity, at a fraction of the price” — they’ve popped up on our expert lists many times before. Here’s an upright Shark model that converts to a handheld version, has a microfiber dusting brush for hardwoods, and comes with a built-in HEPA filter.
All of our experts, across the board, recommended a filter like this for filtering out the finest airborne allergens and dust particles. You can buy one that’s custom-fitted to your specific vacuum (as seen above), though there are some generic, standalone replacement ones like this that fit a bunch of different vacuum models. Homer recommends replacing these every three to six months.
“We also like to use the Swiffer Mop with a microfiber dry cloth attached to it to clean the hard-to-reach areas under furniture,” says Dulude. What that’s doing is essentially dry-dusting in areas that a vacuum might have trouble reaching. She recommends using the mop to dry-dust walls and ceilings, too — “though obviously, use a different microfiber cloth from what you used for floors.”
After you’ve dusted, getting your floors wet can also be helpful for preventing more dust from settling there. If you have a Swiffer for your hardwood floor, you could probably just throw on a Swiffer wet pad, but on tile floors, a traditional mop and pail with a cleaning agent would work, too. Summer Shadforth, a cleaning expert at Fantastic Cleaners Australia, suggests mopping the floors at least once a week, “as water is very effective in keeping dust at bay.”
For removing dust from carpets
Carpets are a little trickier than hardwood floors. Here, the experts I spoke to steered me toward heavy-duty canister vacuums with enough power to lift deeply embedded particles from your rugs and carpets, or pet-specific options if you’re dealing with more hair and dander. Two of our experts — Alberto Navarrete, the general manager of Dallas-based cleaning service Emily’s Maids, and Greg Shepard, founder of Dallas Maids — use this professional backpack-style vacuum from ProTeam, which you may want to try if you feel your carpet needs some industrial-strength cleaning.
That backpack option is quite bulky and pricy, though, so alternately, we’d suggest checking out this Miele vacuum. It’s a favorite for cleaning carpets among experts like Dulude and Don Ham — VP of strategic partnerships at Refresh Smart Home — for vacuuming without recirculating dust. This affordable model doesn’t come with a HEPA filter built in, but you can always add one.
For dusting blinds
Blinds are among the hardest spots to dust in a home, because there’s so little surface area to them and dust tends to cake on them over time. “It’s really important to keep up with blind care or you’ll end up with a very messy, hard-to-clean blind,” says Dulude. “In some cases it takes us SO long to scrub it clean that it makes more sense for a client to buy new blinds.” To prevent buildup, she says blinds should be dry-dusted with a microfiber — something like a Swiffer duster — weekly.
For dusting fabric furniture
With something less porous, like a leather couch, you could easily clean up crumbs and dust with a vacuum, perhaps wipe it with some leather cleaner, and call it a day. Fabric furniture, as we’ve written about before, is more delicate. Here, you might not want to get anything too wet, so a large lint roller could come in handy for picking up surface-level stuff in between sessions with a hand vacuum. “Lint rollers are useful, but far less efficient than a vacuum or damp cloth, and therefore only recommended for caring for soft furnishing and clothing,” says Prenter. “Your couch, bedding, and lamp shades would all benefit from a quick sweep with a lint roller.”
For purifying the air of dust
Many allergists recommend a HEPA air purifier for removing airborne particles if you suffer from allergies. Homer says they’re redundant if you have a home cooling or heating system that already includes filtration, but “a lovely solution if you don’t have central air or central heating.” She recommends the Germ Guardian ones, but suggests ensuring that the model you’re buying is actually big enough to handle the square footage of the space you plan to use it in.
Michele Ann Cassalia, director of marketing at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America likes the Rabbit models because they’ve been certified by the AAFA as asthma and allergy friendly, based on third-party testing. The air quality tester on it will also let you know when you’ve been a little negligent with your cleaning.