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Should You Dust or Vacuum First?

Written by James Hall |

Should you dust or vacuum first?

Ever wondered whether you should dust before vacuuming? Keep reading for the simple answer.

Dust or vacuum first? It’s one of the most common home cleaning questions – and you’ll often hear different answers depending on who you ask.

Fortunately, there’s a simple answer. So, if you’re in a hurry…

Should You Vacuum or Dust First?

You should always dust surfaces in your home before vacuuming. Your vacuum will then pick up dust particles that have settled on the floor, leading to a cleaner home and improved air quality.

Why You Should (Usually) Dust Before Vacuuming

A duster will catch most dust particles when dusting your home, but there still plenty that are agitated into the air. If you’re dusting in the kitchen or dining room, then you may also push crumbs and other debris onto the floor.

These dust particles float around and land on floors, furniture, and other surfaces in the home. If you’ve already vacuumed before dusting, then the agitated dust will cover surfaces that you’ve just cleaned.

Instead, you should vacuum after dusting, so your vac can pick up dust particles and any crumbs that were pushed onto the floor.

It’s best to leave a gap between dusting and vacuuming, so that the dust has a chance to re-settle. The American College of Allergies and Asthma says that it can take more than two hours for dust to re-settle, so you should leave it at least this long before vacuuming.

This isn’t the perfect solution, as vacuuming can stir up dust particles which land on surfaces you’ve dusted, but it’s more effective than using your vacuum first.

What Do Hotel Cleaners Do?

Hotel cleaners are the gold standard when it comes to cleaning efficiently and effectively. These cleaners often dust first, then move onto cleaning the bathroom to allow agitated dust to settle. They’ll then use the vacuum on floors and other flat surfaces.

Are There Any Exceptions?

For people with a high-quality vacuum cleaner that provides strong dust retention, vacuuming first is the best method.

If your vacuum has poor quality filters, however, it will expel a lot of dust and other fine particles into the air. These particles settle on surfaces around the home, along with triggering allergic reactions in people with allergies.

In this situation, it may actually be more efficient to dust after vacuuming. This ensures you’ll pick up more dust and other fine particles that have been expelled by your vacuum cleaner.

A better solution is to look for a vacuum cleaner that retains allergens though. Aside from making it easier to clean your home, an effective filter is much healthier for people with allergies.

The Most Important Thing…

Regardless of whether you dust or vacuum first, the most important thing is to regularly clean your home.

Dust can build up quickly, so you should vacuum and dust at least once per week. If someone in your household has an allergy, or you have pets, then you may need to vacuum even more frequently.

Tips for Minimising Dust in the Home

Now that you know whether to dust or vacuum first, here are a few tips for minimising the amount of dust in your home.

  • Start by dusting higher locations. As you dust, some of the fine particles will fall onto lower surfaces. Start with the highest areas so that you can pick up any dust that’s re-settled.
  • Shut your windows more often. The majority of dust and other debris comes from outdoors. By shutting your windows more often, you’ll reduce the amount that enters your home. It’s also a good idea to ask people to take off their shoes at the front door.
  • Clean with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. HEPA filters are much more effective at retaining dust and other allergens than regular foam filters. Take a look at our guide to HEPA vacs for more information.
  • Dust with microfibre cloths. Microfibre cloths hold more dust than other types of cloth, meaning less ends up on your floor.
  • Empty your vacuum outdoors (or use a bagged vacuum.) Don’t make the mistake of emptying a bagless vacuum indoors, as a cloud of dust will escape. Instead, empty the vacuum directly into an outdoor bin. Alternatively, use a bagged vacuum with a self-sealing design.
  • Tidy up clutter. The less clutter in your home, the easier it is to remove dust.
  • Consider getting an air purifier. Air purifiers can trap dust and other fine particles. They won’t eliminate dust, but can reduce the amount that you need to clean.
  • Don’t forget to dust blinds, curtains, and lampshades. It’s important to dust everywhere in the home, otherwise any remaining dust will spread around the surfaces you’ve just cleaned. Blinds and lampshades are often overlooked, so make sure you dust these areas regularly.
  • Wash bedding each week. Bedding collects a huge amount of dead skin and hair. The more often you wash your bedding, the less dust there will be in your bedroom. Regular washing can also help to prevent dust mites.

Tip: If you’re still not sure whether to vacuum or dust first, then there’s an easy way to test which is best for your home (and vacuum cleaner.) Start by dusting, then vacuum thoroughly before waiting 1-2 hours. Inspect your surfaces – how much dust has returned? Next time you clean, repeat the process but reverse the order to see which was most effective.

Summary

You should dust your home before vacuuming. Dusting agitates fine particles into the air, which then re-settle on the floor and other surfaces. Vacuuming after dusting allows you to pick up this dust, along with any crumbs or other debris that’s been swept onto the floor.

The exception is if your vacuum has poor quality filters that allow dust to be released back into the air. In this case, it may be more effective to dust after vacuuming – although the best solution is to buy a vacuum with better filtration!

Do you have any questions about whether you should dust or vacuum first? Please let us know in the comments section below. You may also want to read our guide to how often you should vacuum your home.

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