The reason why has to do with how ubiquitous dust is, in general. “It comes from things like dirt, skin cells, and pollen, and it settles on every surface in the home,” says Jessica Ek, senior director of digital communications at The American Cleaning Institute. Which is to say, even the surfaces that we don’t really observe very closely or touch often are bound to see their fair share of dust—and our tendency to ignore them just magnifies the accumulation over time.
“Dust comes from things like dirt, skin cells, and pollen, and it settles on every surface in the home.” —Jessica Ek, senior director of digital communications at The American Cleaning Institute
In turn, you might imagine that things like high shelves, ceiling fans, and the spaces beneath heavy furniture and appliances would collect inordinate amounts of dust—and they certainly do, according to Ek. But there are also a few less-obvious spots in a home that tend to get particularly dusty. Ek names baseboards and curtains as top offenders, whereas Silva-Nash calls out room corners, tops of doorways, and window blinds and shutters.
One last spot that might get surprisingly dusty in your home is any surface of an electronic device. Though these devices are likely things with which you do interact often, they don’t typically make it onto a cleaning list, and the static of their screens can be a particular dust-attractor, says Ek.
Though, again, you might not really see the dust in these areas (at least, until it reaches massive proportions), clearing it from your home regularly and completely is important for reasons that go beyond aesthetics. Dust is a common asthma and allergy trigger, says Ek, “and controlling it can help minimize symptoms.” Below, she and Silva-Nash share their best advice for avoiding dust buildup in even the most commonly dusty spots in your home.
How to keep dust from accumulating in the most commonly dusty spots in your home
1. Arm yourself with the right duster
Dusting won’t spare you from the dust buildup if you don’t do it well. And the most important trick to good dusting is using the optimal tool: a microfiber cloth. “Traditional feather dusters and cotton cloths typically just move dust from one place to another, whereas a microfiber cloth will collect and trap dust and dirt, helping you actually remove it from your home,” Silva-Nash says.
Even better? Dampen the cloth before you start dusting. “This better ensures the cloth won’t leave any dust behind—which goes a long way toward preventing more dust from accumulating afterward,” he adds.
2. Dust (and vacuum) in the right order
If you’ve ever vacuumed or swept the floor only to find it shrouded by a light layer of dust after then dusting surfaces above, you know how inefficient it can be to vacuum before dusting. Instead, always dust surfaces from top-to-bottom before handling the floor, so that any dust, crumbs, or hair that’s loosened by your dusting efforts (and not fully trapped in your cloth or duster) can fall to the floor, and then you can simply vacuum or sweep it up afterward, says Silva-Nash.
3. Clean or change your air filter(s) regularly
Remember that dust forms from things like skin cells and pollen that are initially floating in the air before clumping and settling on surfaces in the face of gravity. So, if you can filter some dust out of the air first, there will be less to settle, says Ek. That means checking (and either cleaning or changing) your air filter(s) regularly, every couple of months, depending on the size of your space and whether you have pets or kids at home. And if you still find dust accumulating rapidly, consider adding an air purifier to your space, too, Ek adds.
4. Set up a dusting routine
Without a schedule in place, it’ll be tougher to remember to clean the dusty spots in your home that you might not otherwise encounter. Ek suggests creating a routine that involves weekly dusting and vacuuming, as well as more periodic (perhaps monthly or quarterly) deep-cleaning to get at harder-to-reach places like the baseboards and under furniture. For a specific outline of what to clean when and how often, check out our all-season cleaning list.
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