Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a monthlong series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than 5 minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: Clean less, go outside more.
I live in a city where dust gets into apartments (without an invitation) through vents, radiators, windows, doorframes—you name it. No matter how often you dust, if you live on the lower floors of a building or in a particularly dusty locale, you’ll never experience the divine satisfaction of the “finger swipe test” for more than a day or so. Dust bunnies need a far less cute name for the constant menace they pose, although they do accumulate quickly and it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if they reproduced on their own.
When it comes to spring cleaning, the more I clean, the more dust I kick up, and the more dusting I’m facing down. Thankfully, I’ve discovered some of the best dusting tools on the market for tackling what really is one of my favorite time-honored home care traditions, and I use them all the time.
There’s a reason microfiber cloths reign supreme over all other dust-catching textiles: They have an electrostatic charge that attracts and retains dust. Toss them in the laundry when they’re “full,” and use them over and over—cleaning them actually helps recharge those electrostatic superpowers. Getting them wet deactivates that charge, however, so choose a cleaning cloth from another material for wiping down with water or a spray after dusting. Best of all, microfiber is microfiber! Any brand you select will do the trick nicely.
When this little guy’s following me around the house, I’m much more confident in my cleaning and always more satisfied with the result. Anything I miss when I wipe down a surface will be happily gobbled up by this miraculous one-tasker, on wood floors and carpets alike. So gifted is the robotic vacuum at sucking up pet hair that I occasionally forget I have two cats. The dusty evidence all accumulates in an easy-to-clean bin with an easy-to-clean filter, and by giving the bin and filter a regular scrub-down with soap and water, you can keep the whole operation running remarkably efficiently for years.
I like iRobot’s Roomba for its reliable warranty, just in case something does go awry, because I depend on it so much. You can splurge for an extra-fancy model that empties its own bin, but you’ll miss the visual satisfaction of throwing those big clumps of dust away.
Regular dust maintenance in the form of a Roomba is helpful in cleaning dust from the floor, but it doesn’t do much for the dust circulating in the air (which eventually settles everywhere). Especially helpful if you suffer from seasonal allergies that peak during certain times of the year, air purifiers can also help reduce pet odors and filter out more harmful dust, like bacteria and particles from construction. Cleaner surfaces start with cleaner air.
Do you really need a handheld vacuum (known affectionately as a dust buster) if you have a Roomba, and perhaps a regular vacuum as well? 100 percent. For quick spills, rapid bathroom floor blitzes, or easy access to dust bunnies in the corner (that’s right, we see you there), nothing’s quicker than picking this handy little tool off its charging dock and sucking the mess right up. Or you can nudge your Roomba’s bumper sensor several times with your foot until it heads in the right direction—your choice. I stick with Black+Decker models because they’re the “original” dust busters, and are sturdy, reliable, and powerful.
Think of a hopeless dusty spot you can’t possibly reach—between heavy appliances or inside a closed fan cage or vent, for example. Blow that dust out on your terms with a can of compressed air, using the extension straw for targeted spots if necessary, and vacuum or wipe it away before it rudely dislodges and circulates around your home like it owns the place. That’s right, compressed air isn’t just for computer keyboards anymore. Use short bursts of air to loosen the dust and blast it out of its hiding place, then remove with microfiber or a damp cloth.
Ready to have some fun? A lightweight, durable rattan rug beater is where it’s at (but a tennis racket works well, too). Vacuums of all kinds do a great job at picking up dust and debris on the surface of your area rugs, but owing to the rug’s tight pile, even powerful suction can’t always pick up the dust that’s hiding toward the base, where the fabric attaches to the backing.
Take that rug outside, hoist it over a clothesline or chair (or simply lay it down flat) and firmly and consistently whack one section at a time until you begin to see puffs of dust fly out. You won’t be able to fully clean your rug this way, but you will loosen the particles stuck toward the backing, which would have eventually worked their way out to become—you guessed it—dust. Give your rug a thorough vacuuming afterwards (and don’t forget to stretch your arms and shoulders after that workout).
Here are some extra tips for banishing dust (and helping to prevent it from accumulating in the first place):
Start and finish with dusting
By wiping down and vacuuming out as much dust as you can toward the beginning of spring cleaning, you’ll avoid having to scrub a new layer of dust off an old layer of dust (something that can require extra elbow grease). The dust that settles on a newly cleaned surface comes off much more easily.
The monster under the bed
It’s not always enough to vacuum underneath the bed, especially since that’s where clumps are safe to accumulate behind storage bins and other under-the-bed items. Pull those out and wipe them down thoroughly, then vacuum under the bed for a longer-lasting clean.
Choose textiles with dust in mind
Many kinds of upholstery, like velvet, linen, and yes, microfiber, tend to attract and hang on to dust, and “sigh” it out when you plop down. If you’re really looking to eliminate dusty surfaces once and for all, consider switching to natural or synthetic leather, neither of which attracts particles.
What’s your best dust-busting advice? Let us know in the comments.