My house is SO DUSTY!!!!

tanamaOctober 23, 2004

OK, so this isn't an organization issue but I didn't know where to put this.

I just need to know, what are the primary reasons why a house would be overwhelmingly dusty?? I know there are several possibilities, but I'm trying to find out the primary causes so that I can focus first on those.

My house is


has two very-short-haired dogs

lots of dirt tracked in by dogs from grassless backyard

has forced air heat & central A/C

has all ducts for those in the ceiling, not the floor

has ceiling fans in most rooms that I keep going on low

What are the main culprits? Thank goodness I'm not meticulous or I'd go nuts here -- I wipe visible dust off the fan blades every few days, and on most surfaces it gets visibly dusty within a week and thickly crudded between normal dusting cycles (usually monthly)


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A couple of other things I meant to mention:

my house tends to be very humid if the A/C or heat isn't running (concrete block, a hundred feet from a marsh, a block from a bay, and in humid southern DE), and mold/mildew is a problem

I like keeping the windows open (with screens, and fans if warm) if it's not too hot, cold or humid

We have tile floor with only a few area rugs

The dryer is vented to the outside, and is in the laundry room which is separted by a door, doesn't have heat or a/c

It is vented just a few feet from the A/C compresser, and exactly below where the hvac unit is installed in the attic

I know that "dust happens" but if there's anything I can do to reduce how MUCH of it happens (short of making the dogs live in latex suits), I would like to know how!

Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 1:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry to have to post bad news but the amount of dust you describe is pretty normal -- at least in my experience. Keeping the windows shut will minimize some dust being blown in but you would have to weight that against living in an airless home.

I am a devotee of flylady -- Using her techniques (and my recently purchased flylady feather duster), I have gone from staring at piles of accumulated debris to having a house that doesn't look like it's occupied by Morticia Addams.

After a few days, any surface that is dark will look somewhat dusty -- I have learned that it's easier to get rid of clutter so that it's relatively easier to clean quickly.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am shocked at how dusty are house is. It is new construction of nearly two years so I figured it was drywall dust and such settling. There is also construction down the street and we always have some windows open. Then there are the garderners leaf blowing next door (drives me nuts-they could, honestly, do what they are doing with a rake just as fast. guess that is another post). But really-my last house was not this dusty and we had a dog then. I am going to get one of those dusters.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 1:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I beat you in dust! 3 Dogs...and I live on a dirt road! you have any traffic? Traffic will give you LOTS of dust too. You also may want to get your vents cleaned. AC and heat vents can get nasty and will blow dust everywhere. Make sure you have GREAT air filters, not the cheapies.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 4:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a dust problem as well. I basically live in the desert! Phoenix is very dry and dusty. Plus, new construction, desert landscapes... The good news is we don't have mold, mildew, or humidity problems. I totally agree with blazedog about getting rid of the clutter. While I have definitely not eliminated the dust problem, I have learned how to keep ahead of it. I always wonder why we can send men to the moon but no one can figure out how to keep the dust out of a darn house!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Have you ever had your furnace ducts cleaned proffessionally? Search your yellow pages for a company that provides that service with a truck mounted vacumn.

I have two kids, a dog that drips hair and I live on the edge of the prairie, which is now being developed with housing. The dust here was unbelievable. I had the ducts cleaned two years ago, and even though I still have tons of dog hair to vacumn and wipe up, the "dust" is mininmal. You will be surprised how much junk is in the ducts that the AC and furnace blow down on your things.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 6:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the tips and reassurance that it's not just a matter of being a lousy housekeeper!

I'm trying to declutter to make it at least easier to clean up, but it's hard when you live with someone who loves knick-knacks. ::rolling eyes and smiling::

I may consider getting my vents cleaned... Can you give me an idea of how much it costs to do that?


    Bookmark   October 24, 2004 at 8:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I only have a few suggestions for easier cleaning:

1) Swiffer Dusters (click on link below) I swear by them!

2) Storing 3/4 of knick knacks and rotating what you display every few months.

3) Perhaps consider dusting twice a month? (I only dust every week-10 days and it's OK. The whole city of Athens was extremely dusty during the long time of construction for the Olympics... )


Here is a link that might be useful: swiffer dusters

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 6:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have Swiffer Dusters and the Flylady ostrich feather duster. I find the feather duster much better for dusting surfaces that have things on them as the small little tendrils go everywhere and pick up the dust -- makes it very fast to dust shelves that have things.

I didn't find the Swiffer dusters all that great and they get expensive to use as compared to a feather duster you just shake out.

I like the Swiffer wet jet a lot and feel that's well worth the expense of the pads when compared to the horror of a mop and pail :)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you have an Osco nearby? I got a very nice feather duster at our local osco, might want to look into that. I know it's kind of "cliche", but it really does work very well.

The grassless backyard is probably your biggest enemy...any plans to seed that soon? I bet that will help a *ton*.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 10:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've heard that fall is the BEST time to plant grass seed. It grows a bit, enough to get started, and then goes dormant for the winter. In the spring, it's already under way.

I vote for grass seed, and keeping the dogs off the lawn for the rest of the fall. Then, when the grass is growing better, they can go on there.

For allergy reasons, I got an air purifier w/ a HEPA filter. I'm amazed at how little dust shows up in my bedroom. (I did get a machine rated for a room twice the size of mine, so I can run it on low and still get a great air-exchange rate)

I have also heard of people who caulked and sealed their drywall well, so the dust inside the walls can't seep into the rooms. Those folks found a great drop in the amount of dust. Of course w/ moisture problems, you don't want it TOO airtight, so I don't know if that will work for you.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


The companies around here price it by the square footage of your house. The bigger the house, the more ducts, the longer it takes. I know it cost me $140 Canadian, about $100/110 US.

Talley Sue,

By drywall well, do you mean the cold air intake? Well that's what we call it. It's the cut out at the bottom of the wall, covered by a screen? I don't know how your units are heated, but I do know with gas run forsed air furnaces, if you seal those in, there is very little fresh air for the furnace to draw on. We have three cold air returns on our house, two upstairs and one down. It is essential for the furnace to be able to draw on a steady amount of cold air. As well, when the cold air is drawn down, the warm air that is at the top of the room is drawn back down to keep things comfortable.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 10:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lots of ideas and things to respond to!

mvastian, I use swiffer dusters and love them! But I may also get a feather duster for the reason blazedog suggested, since I have so many things with little nooks and crannies that I"m thinking the feathers might get to better. I also use swiffer sheets (that you use on a regular swiffer on teh floor) as dustcloths for flat surfaces and things that I need to pic up and wipe off, and they're fantastic.

Jaime, no Osco nearby. Actually not much of anything nearby, so I'll probably get something online.

Jaime and Talley Sue, we're planning to put down sod, but I need to find out if it's too late to do that for this winter. I hope not, but I'm afraid it might be.

Talley Sue, I'm presuming that you mean that people do a good job of sealing up their drywall ("seal up their drywall well"), but we don't have drywall we have paneling so no drywall dust to contend with.

I do have a question about the air returns -- can you put some type of filter over those, or will that impede the airflow too much? Maybe I should ask that on the HVAC forum.

Once my parents' visit is over (next week) I'm going to call for estimates on duct cleaning.

Thanks for all your tips!!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 12:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

putting a filter at the out-port of the dryer vent might actually help- making sure that your heater and AC filters are squeaky clean frist. actually, an A/C filter (those spongey sheet ones) cut to size should work well.

I dust with lamb's wool not ostrich feathers...but the idea's the same, and which is better is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other (the wool is better for wood, the feathers are better for everything else)

however, the single best thing I ever did was buy a HEPA-filter vacuum with all the bells, whistles, and brush attatchments a newlywed could want...not only does it makes the dust go away (and I don't get dust blowing out the vacuum bags every time I turn it on) but the damn thing is actually fun to use, so I'm MORE likely to dust more frequently.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 12:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We're to the point where I could potentially justify a new vacuum cleaner... what brand did you get, and how much did it cost?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 1:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just have one thing to add. I know you said that the dryer is vented directly outside, but have you pulled the dryer out and inspected the hose? Even a tiny hole can let a lot of lint in, even with the door closed. But if it was this, your laundry room would be the dustiest room in the house and I know you would have noticed that! Just an idea. Just ask me how I know!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

no, I mean the gaps between the actual drywall and the floor or ceiling, or woodwork. The dust inside the wall, between the studs, floats out through openings BETWEEN the drywall and the floor, or the drywall and the woodwork at windows and doors, into the room.

I do NOT NOT NOT mean the air intake--I meant "seal up well," not "drywall well," as T. guessed.

And she may have paneling, but there may be dust inside there anyway (though the edges of the drywall might generate even more dust.

Again, sealing it off will prevent air flow, which cuts down on dust but might increase moisture, so maybe it won't work for her.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 5:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the clarification. I know heating systems are different across the continent, so I wasn't sure. I wonder if taking off the baseboards and vacuming really well along the edge would help with the dust behind the drywall once in awhile. Say, every six months or so. I might be an alternative to sealing the edges really tight, especially if there is a chance of moisture buildup, as you suggest. Unfortunately, or perhaps for the good, in this case, we have no moisture here. If the realitive humidity gets above 45% for more than a day, we think it is too muggy here. LOL

As for vacumns, I bought a Sears Kenmore with a hepa filter a couple of years ago, and the thing sucks like crazy. If it can pick up wondermutts hair, and she drips tons of it, then dust does not have a chance. LOL


    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 9:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

a vacuum cleaner w/ strong suction is a thing of beauty!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 5:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Annette Holbrook

About 8 months ago I switched to the DuPont brand airfilters for my heat/ac system. I get at least a MERV 8 rating and change the filters every 4-6 weeks. I have had NO issues with dust since starting this new system. I also dust with the swiffer dusters, I try to get all those up high never seen areas at least once a month-ceiling fan blades and motor areas, the upper trim around doors and windows, the tops of the doors, that kind of thing. I also try to vacuum the heat/ac registers and returns regularly.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2004 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My house is MUCH less dusty when I don't have the windows open!
I've experimented this fall by keeping the house closed up due to sensitivity to fall mold. My house is much cleaner and MUCH less dusty! And I never got a sinus problem this year.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm amazed by how much dust settles into my carpet. And after using a Dyson vacuum cleaner with a clear, bagless tank, you can see it all. That's one thing I like about carpeting, it sort of traps the dust, or acts like a filter. When we had hardwood floors, the dust was more airborn, being kicked up from the floor until it formed adorable little dustbunnies.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 8:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like the idea of having the dogs wear latex suits. I'm thinking of having my cats laminated. ;)

I was also shocked by the amount of dust in my carpet after I got my Dyson. I don't think of the carpet as filtering the dust. It just makes it impossible to clean up, which means more dust mites and worse allergies.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 5:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I probably didn't choose my words very well. Sorry. What I meant by filtering the dust is that the carpet collects it and holds the dust until it's vacuumed up. We vacuum our carpets nearly every day. For me, I wouldn't dust mop hardwood floors as often, because it's really more work. Not only do you have to clean the floors, but you have to contend with area rugs on top of them. We were fortunate to get new carpeting throughout the house at Christmas time, and I've been determined to keep it clean by daily vacuuming (which my 10 year old usually does). We just plug the Dyson in one outlet and in twenty minutes 90% of the carpets are done; we don't daily vacuum where the Dyson cannot reach from that single outlet. Yesterday, I vacuumed the carpets thoroughly and the immediately vacuumed again. I was surprised by the fact that a small amount of debris was still picked up during the second vacuum. So yes, if carpets aren't thoroughly cleaned dirt will remain in the fiber. But I still would rather have the debris in the carpet rather than drifting across a floor. And I have six asthmatics in my family.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found your post while trying to find the answer to the same question myself. When I first moved into this house I thought the previous owner must have been a bad housekeeper, but I soon found that wasn't the problem. It is definitely something in the house itself that is causing the EXTREME amount of dust and dirt all over everything. I know this because I just moved from a block away with the very same 2 dogs, lifestyle, etc and there is no comparison to the extreme amount dirt that accumulates in this house compared to the one I moved from.
My situation sounds alot like yours..air conditioning and heat comes from the ceiling ducts...lots of humidity (I live in GA)...use ceiling fans in every room. In addition, the furnace is in the attic. Our heat/air ducts are made of that shiny metal foil looking stuff and not metal which I don't think they can clean the same ?????. We do change the furnace filter regularly.
I know this amount of dust and dirt is being caused by something specific to this house and I am still searching for what it is and how to correct it....VERY CHEAPLY.
Let me know if you come up with any solutions! JH

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 11:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

the carpet trapping the dirt is the very reason we are getting rid of it as we can. I'm dying at the thought of covering hardwood floors with carpet. Our old house had hardwood floors and I loved them.

One suggestion I would have is that which ever filters you use, cheap or more pricey, change them when they look "dirty" not the "magic number of months" on the package. Lots of things can affect how long they are good for Granny living alone, with no pets will have a longer use time than the family with dog and kids playing outside.

I would also get some of those rugs to put outside the door that trap the dirt. Mine are made of a straw like material.
I see a big difference when they need to be replaced.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 3:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think a lot has to do with where you live. Some friends of mine travelled to Germany a while back. The terrain there is quite rocky, although they do have dirt, they do not seem to get the dust we do.

I had travelled with a friend to Vancouver one year. My car at the time was a very dark grey, just below black. Well, that color shows dust same day it is washed back home where I live - lots of wind and surrounding farmland.
But in Vancouver...we had to wash it the first day since it was dirty from the long drive, and 3 days later we are walking out to the parking lot from the hotel and I am asking my boyfriend . . . geez, do you think someone comes out each morning and dusts off the vehicles? Because this car still had no dust on it! We figured it was the location there, maybe it rained through the night? Who knows, but even if it were to rain during the night where I now live, the rain would dry with...little dust drops!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 8:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My air duct cleaning cost $350 and did tons of good. I also had the filter on my air handler switched out to a super high efficiency model.

Here's what came out of my air ducts- we did this before we even moved into the house- I was afraid to breathe!!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 7:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You have a lot of good suggestions here. Get your ductwork cleaned. Then have a really good handy person, or an HVAC company, check your ductwork to be sure it's all properly sealed. Most ductwork is leaky and needs periodic resealing. Use mastic; NO tape on ductwork.

But with the way you live and your surroundings, you're going to have a LOT of dust. Other than changing your life in some major ways, all you can do is maintain your ductwork properly and keep on dusting. You know what the culprits are.

I also think your expectations for a reasonable dusting schedule are throwing you off. WEEKLY dusting is pretty much the standard. Unless someone has asthma/allergies/etc.; then DAILY. Not suggesting that you do that; just that your expectations are off. A less dust-producing lifestyle than yours still produces enough dust to benefit from weekly dusting.

If you stop running your ceiling fans you'll stop keeping the dust airborne; more of it will settle on the floor and stay there till you clean the floors. Walkoff mats at the doors will help. Dry-towelling your dogs before they come in will help. Closing your windows will help. Grassing your yard will help.

If you hate the monthly chore of de-crudding things, maybe you'd find it easier to do a lighter, more frequent dusting with lambswool dusters with a short wooden handle--easist tool for light dusting, but they won't decrud. They hold the dust till you take them outside and shake, then twirl them, when they release it.

Good luck. We're all in this fight together!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 10:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know that this is an expensive solution, but my neighbor installed new windows in their 1924 home and it made a world of difference. My 1936 house still has the original double hung windows and I battle dust all year, despite door mats, special HVAC filters, etc.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

don't forget that note somewhere on this thread (I think) about caulking around the baseboards, top and bottom--to keep construction dust INSIDE the walls.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The thing about most visible dust is it's so heavy it falls out of the air before it finds its way to a filter.
Filters are best for removing the dust you can't see.

If your heating/ac duct has a leak, then your blower is taking air from your house and sending it outside or to an unconditioned space via the leak. This makes the air pressure inside your house lower than the pressure outside, and causes dust to be drawn into your house through cracks and holes whenever the heat/ac is on.

You can check this (on a calm day) by closing all windows and doors, turning on the furnace/ac fan, cracking a window, and holding something smoky by the crack. If your duct is leaking, air will come in through the crack. Check it with the fan off for comparison.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 7:08PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Large closet advice
I'm turning a spare bedroom into a dressing room and...
Please recommend a good paper shredder
I have a little one that can shred two sheets (max)...
What to do with hundreds of CDs
I have nice storage boxes filled with hundreds of CDs...
Best Closet Organizer to install yourself
Which closet organizer is your favorite. We will install...
Anyone know of good boxes (plastic?) for storing papers?
I've been purging DD's school work and paper crafts...
Sponsored Products
6" High Power Dimmable Fluorescent IC Housing by Juno
$151.52 | Lumens
Orange Outdoor Pillow - 12" x 20"
Grandin Road
Fabbian | Lui Steel and Crystal - Low Voltage Recessed Lighting
$181.80 | YLighting
Eglo Track Lighting Benita 1-Light Oil-Rubbed Bronze Track Lighting Track 20615A
$29.97 | Home Depot
Lion Head Iron and Bronze Indoor Outdoor Fountain
Lamps Plus
42" Modern Fan Gloss White Ball Light Kit Ceiling Fan
Euro Style Lighting
Ivory Hotel New York Embossed Dobby Sheet Set
$21.99 | zulily
Nuvo Boxwood 1-light Textured Black 26-inch Wall Sconce
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™