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April 19, 2014  |  Login
Dusting for a Completely Clean Home
By Elizabeth B. Goldsmith PhD, Betsy Sheldon
That near-invisible whisper of sediment that's equally happy to settle on houseplants, coffee tables, valuable artwork, or electronics is dust made up of things like pollen, lint, pet hair and dander, and teeny particles of dirt that drift in from outdoors or from room to room. Your living room collects more or less dust, depending on the activities inside and outside of your home, the inhabitants, and the air flow.

Because it's light, dust floats around in the air until it settles on surfaces like tables and floors. You want to minimize dust inside because you don't want to breathe it. Air or vacuum filters or a dust mop or cloth are the devices typically used to capture dust and remove it from the home environment.

Walking the Labyrinth of Dusting

Tables and other flat surfaces covered with knick knacks are useful for collecting dust and keeping it off the carpet or other fabrics so that dust mites and other vermin don't settle in.

The last thing you want to do is whisk all that dust to the floor. Dusting is a mindful activity - not a mindless one. And here's a mindful approach to follow:

  • Make a microfiber cloth or a lint-free piece of fabric from your rag pile, your partner in dusting. (Read Chapter 2 for the inside story on microfiber and its role in cleaning.)

  • Skip the feather duster or any other aid that does nothing more than move dust from one place to another, stirring up irritants.

  • As a backup - and especially if you can't reach the ceiling - have a vacuum cleaner with an extension tool on hand, too.

  • If you want, you can use a cleaning product or dampen your cleaning cloth just slightly so that more dust clings to the cloth. But, remember, the act of rubbing, not the cleaning solution, is what picks up and traps the dust. Spray that table all day, and it's not going to eat away the dust.

  • Start dusting from top to bottom, making a circle around the room.

  • Continue to change dust cloths frequently. As soon as one appears to have been grayed by a film of dust and cobwebs, exchange it for a clean one. Hey, you're not using throwaways, but even though using a new cloth increases your wash load, it's important to have clean cloths.

  • Continue your circle around the room, hitting the next highest level and then moving lower.

Attending to the Details

Each section of the room and piece of furniture deserves special attention. Consider this approach:

  • Ceiling: With a vacuum and a long attachment, pick up the cobwebs clinging to the ceiling corners. You can use an old-fashioned ceiling broom if you prefer.

  • Walls: Dust walls the same way as you would the ceiling. No direct spray is needed on the surface, but if you want to use a product, spray lightly into the cloth and wipe down. This procedure is fine for both painted and wallpapered surfaces. (If the wallpaper is special, particularly old, or hand-painted, seek advice from experts for the best way to clean.)

  • Ceiling fans, ceiling light fixtures, and floor and table lamps: For safety, turn off the lights, lamps, and ceiling fans before cleaning.

  • Artwork and framed items: To avoid damage to unprotected artwork if you're using a cleaner, spray the dust cloth with the cleaner rather than spraying it directly on the picture frame.

  • Books: Again, if using a product, spray the cloth, not the item, and use any liquid sparingly when wiping down book covers. more



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