Overwhelmed by dust!

mrsh01January 22, 2012

I need as much help as I can get! I'm an admittedly bad housekeeper. I'm so tired when I'm home that I do the bare minimum - wiping off counter surfaces, putting dishes away. I'm bad about other things, but I do try to dust and vacuum because my husband and I both have allergies.

We live in a townhouse with electric baseboard heat. We've been here for 7 years, and I've never lived anywhere where the dust was so overwhelming. I swear it regenerates itself instantly! I can wipe off a surface, and 30 seconds later it's dusty again. I can actually see dust floating in the air all the time.

I dust, clean with a portable steam cleaner, vacuum several times a week, and still there's dust floating around, covering surfaces, piling up on the laminate floors.

Does anyone have any tips for dealing with an overwhelming amount of dust, other than literally dusting 25 times a day as a full-time job? Is there anything we can install in an electric heating system that might help?

I feel like I'm going crazy. I can't even decorate the way I want, because my candles end up coated in dust, and wall hangings and decorative pieces and other things just end up becoming places for more dust to settle. It really and truly is more dust than I've ever seen in anyone's home, and I feel like there's got to be some kind of weird cause of it, but I can't imagine what it might be.

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Ya know, my house is somewhat like this only not to quite that degree. I have lived in many homes in my life, probably moved 20 plus times and the last two places that I've lived in NE Ohio have been exactly the same but never before had this issue. I do not have electric heat, I have gas heat, my system has the big fancy whole house filtration system on it. I can definitely dust daily and still have dust, that's how bad it is. I'm curious if anyone has an answer. My only conclusion is the paint. I'm thinking this is flaking off the painted walls and ceilings? If there's a bright ray of sun coming in the window, I can see dust particles floating around in the air. I see no difference of winter or summer to blame it on the heating/cooling system.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:10AM
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we use an air cleaner/ionizer in 3 rooms of our home. filters are expensive, but i only have to change them 2-3 times a year. ours is an old house with electric baseboard heat. we have two active cats and dust was unbearable before we bought these aircleaners. now, it is tolerable. hope this helps!! ;)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Mrsh01...I don't have an answer for you, but I do have similar issues. We have two big dogs in the house,and i am constantly chasing dog hair and dust bunnies.
Wanted to ask Lindalou what kind of air cleaner to buy????

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Mrsh01 your electric baseboard heat should not be contributing to your dust issues. Now if you also use a fireplace or woodstove you are going to generate more dust. Do you have large trees and/or a big field beside your townhouse? Do you notice more dust seasonally or after opening the windows? You might be actually seeing pollen. The fir trees, around here, actually will coat a car yellow in the spring.

I suspect you might be just stirring the pot. By that, I mean you are not capturing your dust but are just sending it flying back into the air. Number one suspect is your vacuum. Your vacuum is picking up the dirt and then throwing fine particles back in to the air. A central vac, which exhausts to the outside, would ultimately be your best bet. They also make a canned spray to capture dust. You spray it on your cloth or mop to make the dust cling to it. The only downfall with the one I used is I didn't like the smell.

I would also clean everything with a wet/damp cloth using a cleaning solution in order to capture the dust. Then use Swiffers instead of feather dusters or rags. If you see it flying through the air you are not capturing the dust. Put antistatic mats by doors to capture pollen and dirt off your shoes. Keep the areas outside the doors swept.

Another thing about cleaning your laminate with a steam cleaner. I would caution against that because everything I've seen says it will blow up/expand if you happen to get water into the substrate of the product. You might want to read the manufacturers recommendations for your particular laminate.

Last about the cleaning in general. I find the best tip is to clean/straighten your kitchen every night before bed. It just starts the next day off better to get up and see an orderly kitchen while drinking your morning cup of coffee.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:51AM
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Thanks for the responses! Just to clarify, I don't use a steam mop on my laminates, I use a portable steam cleaner and a cloth to dust surfaces and clean countertops, etc. I thought this would help with dust, and it might a little, but so far it's not enough.
housefairy, what kind of spray did you use? I've tried things like enddust, and they do help get rid of more existing settled dust, but more takes its place so fast. I don't think it's pollen (actually, I'm sure at certain times of the year it is partially pollen, but I can see a lot of fibers and other debris floating in the air.)
Central vac would be a dream, but unfortunately it's a big expense, and I'm not sure we could even install it in this place without overhauling the electrical system too.
I'm sorry to hear I'm not alone in this dust assault! Hopefully we continue to get great tips to help us at least lessen the amount we're dealing with. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 8:43AM
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Mrsh the spray is called Misty dust mop treatment. As mentioned, it is stinky. I always take it outside to spray my cloths. Listed is a link to show you the can. I purchased it at a janitorial supply store. I notice the link says you can spray your filters. I would not do that just because of the smell.

You state you would have to work over your electrical system. So I'll give rave reviews (again) about my Vacuflo. You DON'T have to have electrical outlets for the head attachment. When they installed they charged for the unit and then for each outlet. Took the guy all day and he was excellent at installation.

Just saying you might want to check prices if you plan on living at your current place for a long time. It would add resale value to your home. Not saying the buyers would pay extra, but it would give you an extra over another townhouse. (Buyers always want all the goodies, just don't want to pay for them.) My actual unit is warranted for as long as I live in the house. But if you buy one, get the Vacuflo. There is a difference.

Since you state you have baseboard heat you might look into a portable room air cleaner. Possibly you might post a thread to see who has what and how well they think they work.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dust mop treatment

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Your first step is to figure out where the dust is coming from. Try to find out where you see most of the dust-i.e. window sills. Do you have open windows? Is there an industrial are nearby? Even if you have closed windows, dust can still come in through places like the rangehood. You will have to be the detective.

You are going to have to change your feelings about cleaning. You will have to clean more. You mentioned that you are an "admittedly bad housekeeper". You will have to clean everywhere. We will stick to "dust" issues.

You will want to vacuum almost everything. You will want to vacuum the walls and ceiling. Dust and fibers will stick to it, eventhough you cannot see it. Vacuum drapes between having them dry cleaned. These areas do not need to be done every week, but maybe until you see a change. Then once a month after. Don't forget vacuuming the tops of books, in the bookcase. The bookcase is a breading grown for mites. Once a week, vacuum all the fabric-covered furniture. Furniture holds alot of dirt, dust, dustmites, and loose fibers. Every time you move, you displace all the debris on the furniture. I have talked about this in another thread, but you want to vacuum the mattress. About once a month, put the vacuum on the sheetless mattress and vacuum it. Put mattress covers on it, if you have to.

Vacuum the rug at least once a week. More would be better.

You did not mention what vacuum cleaner you are using. You want a good vacuum cleaner that will filter well. You do not have to use a central vacuum system. There are plenty of vacuum cleaners out there, that will do a very good job. Make sure you keep the vacuum in very good running order, so it can do an efficient job. You may find that you need to purchase a new and better vacuum cleaner.

Dust all surfaces with a good cloth. Turn the cloth to a clean section regularly. Spraying a polish or duster spray on the cloth will help dust to stick. Try not to use aggressive movements when moving the cloth, because it will fling the dust in the air. You can understand what I am talking about, when you see someone using a feature duster. First of all, that is a bad thing. When people use a duster, they will shake the duster around; thinking they are dusting. What they are really doing is shaking the dust into the air, where it will settle back on the furniture later. BTW, this applies to anything else you want shake. Do not shake your sheets or anything else. We have a tendency to shake those sheets as we move them.

Using air cleaners will help clean the air. I have used them for many years in my bedroom, when I sleep. They do help.

You are just going to have to change your habits, but I believe that your dust problem will decrease if you keep up.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Be sure and keep the AC/Furnace filters cleaned or replaced on regular basis (monthly at least). Also use the vacuum bags that remove even more dust/allergy stuff than the regular ones do. Forgot name of them.

My DH turned off A/C this past fall and forgot about cleaning the furnace filter for the past 3 months. Wow! even the ceiling vents were getting dirty and I was wondering why. Hmmmm....asked DH when the last time he cleaned the filter....you guessed it. Found the problem!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 1:15PM
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I was going to ask about your vacuum also. I don't know anything about central vacs, but a top-quality HEPA filter vacuum might set you back $400-$500 but should make a big difference if you don't already have one.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 1:36PM
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This probably does not apply to your house, but, thought It worth mentioning anyway. Our last house was very dusty. In my living room, my black pillows on the couch, were white across the top every day. The dining room table was white every day. We had electric heatpump, and all new ducting, and I was pretty sure it wasnt that. Then one day, I noticed that a very small area of crown moulding was popping out a bit, so I took the step ladder to fix it, and when I moved it with my fingers, it was solid dust behind it. Hubby and I donned masks, and took every bit of it down, and what we found was that the ceiling had never been sealed to the walls, and the dust was actually the blown insulation in the attic being pushed in all over the house around the crown moulding. Apparently since all the rooms were getting crown moulding, it wasnt considered necessary to go the extra step and join the ceiling to the walls. I vacuumed it all out, cleaned it all up, and taped it all, and mudded it all, and sanded, and primered and painted it all, room x room. Since I am not a lover of crown moulding, we didnt put it back up, but if that should be your problem, you could carefully reinstall it. It was the end of our excessive dust problem.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 2:51PM
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jennava.....sorry i just got back to this post and saw your question about what kind of air cleaner to buy. i have 2 hunter's and an oreck. if i were to buy another one, i would lean towards another oreck. i got the hunters from HSN and the oreck from QVC. i am sure there are others out there, i just haven't tried any other ones. good luck!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 6:32AM
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jennava.....sorry i just got back to this post and saw your question about what kind of air cleaner to buy. i have 2 hunter's and an oreck. if i were to buy another one, i would lean towards another oreck. i got the hunters from HSN and the oreck from QVC. i am sure there are others out there, i just haven't tried any other ones. good luck!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:51AM
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I also suffered white dust everywhere in several NE Ohio houses. During construction of the last one I was able to be on site daily and noticed that everything.....sawdust, drywall dust, etc. was swept down the register holes into the duct work. Immediately, I decided to spend every weekend armed with a large shop vac cleaning out the ducts. When we moved in we didn't have dust blowing back out when the heat or air was on. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:01PM
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allora, I live in NE Ohio now too and noticed it worse here. I live in an older home, I wonder if having the ducts cleaned would help? But I'm beginning to wonder if it's not just the air up here because as I was thinking about it, I realized that even our cars get full of white dust so this cannot be related to anything inside our house. So maybe it's just in the air in some places?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 9:26AM
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If you have any duct work - have the ducts professionaly cleaned. My last house has forced air gas - but my husband was mechanically clueless and didn't realize that a furnace needed filters! GEZ!!!! That house was always dusty..
When we built our last house before we even moved in I had the duct work cleaned - mainly because of all the drywall dust. I think it really helped, I never noticed a large amount of dust.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:20PM
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lindalou... thank you for the Oreck recommendation. going to look for one.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Hello - never been on this forum before, but thought I'd respond to another area to check - you said you have electric baseboads. I lived in a house for years with them, and found it helpful - along with following some of the other good advice already mentioned - to pull the front covers off every baseboard at he beginning of every heating season and thoroughly clean everything, including gently cleaning the fins. Otherwise accumulated dust that settles in all over in there will just rise up and circulate every time the heat goes on. Have you done that?? Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 2:23PM
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too funny my boys are parents and grand parents now
but when they were in high school, i asked them to ask their science teacher, how high can dust get, before it falls over..i still smile about it
some places are just more dusty than others

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:02PM
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I swear it is having a washer/dryer in the house! I don't know for sure..but houses I lived in for my whole life had the laundry in the garage or apts that had no hook-ups so no laundry. Never had the dust as we do with laundry in-house. I clean the filter on dryer after each load..but who knows. Just keep dusting..or think of it as a protective coating for fine furniture (Phillis Diller, I think)!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 5:30PM
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I live near an extremely high traffic 6 lane city road. I saw a news article before about the pounds of rubber dust that works off tires daily. I think this contributes to a lot of house dust.
Also, the only location in my townhouse for the cat litter pan is directly under the A/C air intake vent. I have the highest quality filters that I can get for a small, weird size filter, and I attempt to change it monthly. I've noticed a fine beige dust all over everything on both floors, and I'm sure it was from the litter. I've now done all I can do to control that and it's better.
Also, I've put spray foam insulation made for small gaps around every crevice. I removed the air vents and found large gaps between the ducts and ceiling board. I've sealed around and behind door frames where I could see gray insulation starting to ooze out, and electrical outlets.....any place attic insulation could get into the house. Prior to that, I would find a layer of gray soot in the bathtub, if I didn't use it for a few days...not now.
Think like dust and you can begin to figure out how it gets in.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:55PM
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