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Home Cleaning: Should You Dust Or Vacuum First?

When doing home cleaning chores, it is imperative to do them as efficiently as possible to save both time and effort.

Thus, many people want to know if they should vacuum or dust first and how to speed things up while still keeping their homes clean and pleasant to live in.

Published: January 20, 2023.

dust or vacuum 1

Dust or Vacuum First: Does Order Matter?

When cleaning your home, the order tasks are done matters greatly, especially when elevated surfaces have to be thoroughly dusted.

But let's clarify a few things first.

What is Dust?

Dust is a collection of very tiny particles of various origins, including pollen, skin particles, pet dander, human and pet hair particles, hair, lint, dust mites, etc.

Obviously, the dust may contain plenty of harmful allergens, but also various bugs, germs, bacteria, etc., feeding on the organic matter found in the dust. And nobody wants that at home...

How often should You dust your home?

Well, it all depends on how many people live in the household, do you have pets and what kind, where You live, how often people get in and out, whether somebody is smoking or not, etc. All these activities influence how quickly the dust accumulates and how often it should be cleaned.

On average, do quick dusting every few weeks and thorough dusting every few months. But again, this is highly individual.

How To Clean Home Properly?

First of all, before dusting or vacuuming, remove clutter and pick smaller items and objects from floors that may slow You down while cleaning.

Now, start at the top, dusting first and only then consider vacuuming. So, pick a good microfiber brush or cloth and start dusting elevated surfaces like bookshelves, shades, air vents, etc.

dust or vacuum book

Why To Dust First?

Although dust particles are very small and can stay in the air for some time, they will settle down in the end on lower surfaces, which are almost always floors or perhaps some lower bookshelves, baseboards, and similar surfaces.

The best aid for dusting is microfiber cloth or microfiber brush - when dusting, they collect dust particles much more efficiently than, for example, cotton cloth.

And when they get dirty, they can be washed easily.

Hint: when dusting with a microfiber cloth/brush, use a spray bottle to spray just a little bit of clean water onto the microfiber cloth/brush. This way, dusting will be more efficient, but the microfiber cloth/brush will NOT leave the surfaces moist.

dust or vacuum microfiber duster

One of the very important details about microfiber cloths/dusters is that they can feature long, adjustable handles, allowing the users to quickly dust elevated surfaces while still safely standing on the ground - such cleaning tools can speed things up significantly.

Vacuum After Dusting

After dusting, it is time for vacuuming - when vacuuming, it is very important to have a vacuum cleaner with a good air filtration system, preferably with a true HEPA air filtration system, which is able to collect at least 99.97% or 0.3 microns or larger particles from the vacuumed air.

Such air filtration allows the user to clean floors effectively without kicking new dust in the air - the dust that enters the HEPA vacuum cleaner stays there.

miele activeairclean 50 air filter

Note: If your vacuum cleaner has the option of using air filters or vacuum bags that include a layer of active carbon with antibacterial coating, go for it. It will provide You with additional protection against odors, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), smoke, etc.

Dusting With Vacuums

Thanks to the advances in cleaning technology, many modern vacuums can be used to clean elevated surfaces - dusting included.

The most popular vacuum cleaners used for dusting are:

  • Upright vacuums with additional cleaning wand and hose combined with various cleaning attachments, dusting brushes included,
  • Stick vacuums combined with dusting brushed,
  • Canister vacuums with their long and flexible cleaning hoses and wands, combined with dusting brushes and other cleaning attachments,
  • Handheld vacuums with dusting brushes, etc.

 dust or vacuum dusting brush

As one can see, the crucial part is the "dusting brush" - as the bristles of the dusting brush glide over the surfaces, they agitate dust particles, which are then sucked into the vacuum via strong suction.

Hint: strong suction is a great thing, however, when dusting sensitive surfaces, consider decreasing the suction.

The dust particles are then captured in the vacuum cleaner (dirt bin or vacuum bag) thanks to the vacuum's air filtration system.

This allows the user to clean larger surfaces without much effort quickly.

Note: detailed cleaning requires a little bit more time, but it still can be done using a good vacuum cleaner with a dusting brush.

After dusting the elevated surfaces (from top to bottom) using the vacuum cleaner, remove the dusting brush, attach the floor cleaning head (floor dependent) and vacuum your floors.

Steam Mops or Vacuum Cleaners?

Bare floors that support cleaning using steam mops can be steam cleaned instead of vacuumed - steam mops combine hot steam and microfiber pads to clean and sanitize the floors, often killing up to or even more than 99.9% of bacteria and other germs.

Thanks to hot steam, steam mops can remove sticky and other stubborn messes that vacuum cleaners can't.

And the best thing is that some models are offered with both washable and disposable mop pads, which are great for, for example, pet messes - after cleaning just throw the dirty microfiber pad in the trash.

Glazed ceramic tiles, marble, and similar heat-resistant floors can be quickly cleaned using steam mops, while sealed hardwood and similar sensitive floors can be cleaned using steam mops only if allowed by the floor manufacturer.

How To Reduce Dust At Home

Keep the doors and windows closed, especially in the season of allergens,

  • Use HEPA air purifiers to remove airborne particles, dust included,
  • Change or clean/wash (if supported) HVAC air filters regularly,
  • Clean (bathe and even vacuum using vacuum grooming tools) your pets,
  • Remove objects that trap dust easily, etc.

Dust cannot be prevented, but it can significantly be reduced.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding dusting, vacuuming, steam mopping, and similar.

Is it better to vacuum before dusting?

No, one should dust elevated surfaces first and only then vacuum the floors.

In what order should you clean your house?

Remove the clutter and larger debris manually, dust elevated surfaces, and then vacuum/mop/steam mop the floors.

What is the best order to clean a dusty room?

Call professional help, maybe?

Seriously - a very dusty room should be cleaned in the same order as any other room, just be sure not to kick up the dust while cleaning.

Also, after dusting and vacuuming such a room, it is highly recommended to place the HEPA air purifier in the newly cleaned area/room to collect airborne dust, for example, for 24h, and then repeat the cleaning process - yes, some rooms can be that dusty ...

Does vacuuming kick up dust?

If You have a vacuum cleaner with a good air filtration system, true HEPA preferably, and You keep the air exhaust away from dirty surfaces (which should be dusted by now), then vacuuming doesn't kick up dust.

What causes a lot of dust in your house?

Dust is accumulated airborne dirt that may come from outside, from people and pets, from clothes, and similar.

For example, if You live in an area with low air quality, keeping the windows and doors may help reduce dust in your home.

Can You steam mop wooden and similar floors?

Sealed wooden and similar floors can be steam cleaned only if allowed by their manufacturers.

If there are cracks in the wood finish, the steam may penetrate the wood, causing it to buckle and even rot. Also, freshly polished and waxed wooden floors, when steam cleaned, can lose their shine.

dust or vacuum microfiber cloth

Few Final Words

If You still wonder if You should dust or vacuum first, dust first, starting from the top to bottom surfaces, with the floor being cleaned last.

When dusting, go for microfiber cloths or brushes since they are much more efficient than, for example, cotton cloths.

Also, if You have a dusting brush attachment for your vacuum cleaner, it can also be used for dusting elevated surfaces.

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