You thought things were looking relatively clean in your living room until a sliver of sunshine crept in through the blinds. Suddenly, a layer of dust seemed to appear out of nowhere. Wasn't it just yesterday you were dusting off the bookshelves?
To those of us (all of us) who don't enjoy housework, dust is like pet hair. No matter how often you remove it, it seems to come back one million-fold minutes later.
But don't give up and wallow in all those chemicals, microbes and fungi. There are easier, more effective ways to whisk away that powdery nemesis.
Skip the feather duster. Those are best for just leaving feather-shaped swirls in the dust. Instead, use an electrostatic duster (like the Swiffer) or a very slightly damp microfiber cloth, suggests Consumer Reports, which will capture the dust and not just move it around. For larger areas or hard-to-reach spots, use a lambswool duster. But it's no good if it's dirty. Vacuum it after every use and once in a while, wash it by hand and let it air dry.
Use your vacuum. The most efficient dust-buster is a vacuum with lots of attachments, says Good Housekeeping, especially when you're planning a ceiling-to-floor cleaning. Vacuums can suck the dust off bare floors and carpets, but also (with attachments) off any other place the hose reaches.
Bob Vila suggests an additional tip if you have hard-to-reach spots: Use a hair dryer and blow all the dust out of nooks and crannies and into one area. Then use your vacuum to suck it up.
Forget the dustpan. When cleaning your floors, use an angled broom to make sure you get the bunnies out of the corners. But when you're done, don't try the dizzyingly frustrating job of getting that mess into a dustpan. There will always be that fine line of particles that never actually make it into the pan. Instead, use your vacuum to make sure the dust is truly gone.
Consumer Reports also suggests this pro tip when sweeping: "Hold the broom to one side and use short strokes to sweep away from you. The slant allows you to get into corners."
Think gravity. This may seem like common sense, but sometimes you find yourself cleaning the floors only to look up and realize the ceiling fan is dripping with dust. Always dust from the top down, so you don't have to do any more work than you need to.
Put dryer sheets to work. If you use dryer sheets in the laundry room, you can put them to use throughout the house. Wipe down computer and TV screens with them to remove dust and static electricity. Bob Vila also suggests using them to wipe baseboards, blinds, the tops of tall furniture and anywhere else dust accumulates to keep it from lingering next time around.
Get a doormat. It won't help you now, but invest in a good mat if you don't already have one. According to The Nest, about 80 percent of the dirt in a typical house is from what we track in on our shoes. In fact, Consumer Reports suggests having one inside the door and one outside. But don't forget to clean them on a regular basis. They'll obviously get dirty (and dusty) too.
Dust everything. It's easy to lull yourself into believing that you only need to worry about hard surfaces like bookshelves and tables and the things that get so hazy you can write your name in them. But The Nest offers a wake-up call: "Anything in your home that has a surface needs to be dusted. Even your curtains, bedspread, dust ruffle, pillows, and mattress needs attention once in a while."