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In the never-ending challenge to keep your home clean, you’ve probably wondered about this question.  Should you vacuum or dust first? Does it really matter which task you choose first? When I vacuum, which Roomba do I use? So many questions, so little time. We’ll answer the question in this guide.

​Is it Better to Dust or Vacuum First?

Both are great, of course. It’s better to dust or vacuum than not do anything. But to cut straight to the chase…

The Verdict: Always Dust first!

When cleaning, you should always dust first. The reasoning behind this is very simple. Dust is made of tiny dirt particles.  They float around in the air then come to rest on furniture, walls, floors, ceiling fans and just about every part of each room.

Dusting will agitate these dirt particles. Even though that doesn’t make sense – scattering more dust around the room – there’s a basic principle involved.

  • By dusting first, you agitate the dust that has settled in the room.
  • When you dust, you are able to wipe up some of the dust. You will also agitate the dust so that it settles into areas you can then vacuum.
  • After dusting, you can then vacuum and pick up the rest of the dust particles. If you had vacuumed first, you would miss a lot of dust.

feather duster for cleaning

Methods for Dusting First before Vacuuming

The choice is clean, it’s best to dust first. But, how you dust is also extremely important. When in doubt, remember this tip – dust from the top down.

The Dust-First Method

  1. Start at the top of the room and dust down.  If you have ceiling fans, start dusting them.  When you get to the windows, dust the top of the blinds and go down. Don’t start on the furniture in the middle of the room. You want the dust to move downward and settle in lower areas – such as the floor. This makes it easy to vacuum.
  2. Dust surface areas like tables, furniture, windowsills – anything in the middle part of the room.
  3. Now is the time for the vacuum to be useful. After you’ve dusted everything you can, use the vacuum (an extender hose attachment can be helpful here) to vacuum furniture, blinds, drapes, everything where dust particles might lurk.
  4. Vacuum the flooring and lower surfaces.  Don’t be dismayed to see dust particles agitating and flying up into the air.  They will soon settle in time for the last step in the dusting method.
  5. Dust major surfaces again after you have vacuumed.  The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that dust can take up to two hours to settle after using a vacuum.  If you wait a while before going back to dust, chances are you will collect most of the dust that’s settled. Use a damp cloth or one formulated to capture dust particles. This is an important step.
  6. By dusting from top to bottom, then using the vacuum cleaner, you’ve managed to get most of the dust in the room.

Using Your Air Conditioner

Here’s a handy tip to use in the battle against dust.  Do you have a central air unit in your home?  If so, this can be a great help. Turn it on before you start your cleaning routine. The unit will move air – and dust – up through the vents. Any dust floating around will be trapped in the unit’s filter.

Consider your HVAC unit as a hidden maid to help you grab those dust particles your dust cloth or vacuum misses. If the unit is running after your initial dust first phase, the dust that settles back down can be pulled into the filer and trapped there.

The only downside to this is that you’ll need to keep a close watch on your air filter. If you are trapping a lot of dust, it will need to be changed more frequently than before.

Also, consider this option. Boosting your HVAC unit with a more powerful filter. Some filters are specially made for homes and sensitive individuals to help eliminate things like dust, allergens and other harmful things from the air you breathe inside your house. If dust is causing anyone in your home breathing problems, this is a choice you should look into.

How Often Should I Dust?

This is another question you’ve often wondered. Just how often should I dust?  Do I make time to dust every day? Once a week? Once a month?  If I vacuum every day, do I need to also get out the dust cloth and make a clean sweep again?

The answer is – there is no set rule on how often you dust.  It will depend on a couple of factors.

  • Have high traffic home – lots of people in and out – dust more often.
  • Pets – especially pets who shed pet hair or fur – dust more often.
  • Do you live in a dusty region of the country?  If more dust gets tracked into your home or blows into your windows – dust more often.

Read about Shark Pet Vacuums

If you have any of these issues to deal with, you might find yourself dusting at least once a week.  If your home is quieter, you don’t have a lot of dust or pets, then dusting can be put off for longer and won’t become a weekly chore.

Before you can answer honestly how often you should dust, look around your home at how often things accumulate dust.  Some surfaces are natural magnets for dust. Your home may accumulate dust faster due to the factors listed above. There is no set rule on how often you should dust, but let’s look at a general rule of thumb.

When should you vacuum under the bed?

  • Ceiling Fans, Molding, Top of shelves, Door frames and other hard to reach places – these out of the way places won’t collect as much dust as other surfaces. If it’s hard to reach,  aim for a general cleaning once every three to six months. Again, if your home is more prone to dust, you will have to adjust your schedule for this chore. Chances are you won’t have dust accumulating on these out of the way places as much as lower surfaces.
  • Furniture, Electronics, Shelves, Tables –  These are the dust collectors in your home. Depending on your home – high traffic? Pets? Family members with allergies?  Your goal should be to dust as often as needed. While the general goal would be once a month to every other week, this may change if you have a high traffic home or someone in the family with breathing problems or allergies.
  • Floors –  These are the worst offenders in collecting dust in your home. Everything settles on this surface – dust, dirt, you name it! Floors can obtain a layer of grime quickly. The general rule is to run a dust mop over floors every couple of days.

If you have pets, a family member with allergies or a high traffic home, even a daily dusting is recommended.  A handy tool to cut down on dust and dirt from your floors – when you don’t want to mop – is to use the Swiffer Sweeper.

Should I Sweep Before Vacuuming?

Sweeping before vacuuming is a great addition to your household cleaning routine. If you want to add in a good sweep to your floors before you start vacuuming you can do it in a few different ways.

Try using a dust mop. It is a really quick and easy way to give your floors a nice sweep especially if they aren’t too dirty. A dust mop will let you give your floors a once over to pick up surface dust and dirt that might hinder a deep vacuuming.

In your higher traffic areas or areas that are larger portions of your homes filled with dust and debris, you will want to use a traditional broom. Using a broom in your kitchen is also a good idea since there is a lot of foot traffic in that area and larger food particles tend to fall to the floor.

If you are still trying to figure out if you should dust or vacuum first, it might be a little overwhelming to add in, but you can do it easily by following just a few steps. These steps will help you incorporate dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping.

  1. Start by dusting your higher surfaces first.
  2. Second, sweep your hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors.
  3. Then use your vacuum hose to pick up all the dirt you collected from sweeping.
  4. You will then want to run your vacuum over your carpeted areas.
  5. Finally, dust the rest of your medium height to low height surfaces.

Sweeping before vacuuming will allow you to skip the dustpan. Instead, use the vacuum to suck up any small dirt particles. Then proceed to vacuum the rest of your home.

How to Dust and Vacuum Faster

You’ve now learned the best way when it comes to choosing dusting or vacuuming, but what if you are short on time or an unexpected guest is coming over and you haven’t cleaned? Below are a few ways that you can dust and vacuum a little faster to have your task done lickety-split.

First, in the case of dusting, your job will go a lot faster if you have fewer tools to manage through. If your normal routine is to use a dust spray on your surfaces then wipe down the surface with a rag, you can try to speed this up by using a dusting wipe which has the spray and rag in one quick grab and go product.

After the dusting, grab your cordless vacuum to give your floors a quick once over. Try cutting the time in half by purchasing a vacuum that works well on all different floor types. In a pinch, you can skip the sweeping and free up more time to focus on the rest of the areas that need to be cleaned.

dusting or vacuuming

If you are pressed for time, you can forgo dusting certain areas of your home that aren’t easily noticeable like the door frames or high shelves. Definitely be sure to take a minute to wipe down your ceiling fans, though, because you’ll get a face full of dust if they are turned on without being clean.

Best Cleaning Products for Dusting

Dusting is one of those chores that you either love, love, love, or you absolutely despise it. In any case, dusting must be done in your home in order that it stays clean. Here are a few great products, tips, and DIY tricks to make your dusting provide a more effective result.

Use Microfiber Cloths

You want to be sure that when you are dusting you are trapping the dust instead of letting it loose into the air where it can land on something else. Using a microfiber cloth will help with this. It will trap the dust and hold onto it as you continue dusting. Microfiber cloths also work well without having to use any polishes or oils.

The softness of the microfiber cloth will not scratch or damage your furniture in any way which is a big plus. If you’re worried about cleaning your cloth once your chores are done, just toss it into the washer and dryer and it’ll be ready to go for next time.

Compressed Air

Using a spray bottle or canister that is filled with compressed air is an effective way to dust the small spaces in your home, especially your office area. They are equipped with a tiny straw that shoots out a blast of air into a small area for a more thorough cleaning.

If you have small crevices around your home that tend to not get dusted, compressed air is a good choice to consider. Areas like computer keyboards and laptop bodies are constantly catching dirt in the small places between the buttons, try using compressed air to push out anything trapped in those places.

Most people don’t know this but the fan your laptop uses to cool itself off not only sucks in the air but also dirt and dust that is around it. These particles can slow down our fan or even damage it. Spraying some compressed air in there every few months or so will help to keep your fan running smoothly.

Use a Ceiling Fan Duster

Ceiling fans are one of those areas that are extremely difficult to clean. You have to climb up onto a chair and wipe the blades of the fan (or even the highest shelves in your home). This brings the risk of falling off the chair and hurting yourself as well. Using an extended pole duster will allow you to dust high areas while staying safely on the floor.

Ceiling fan dusters usually come with the duster and the pole that can extend up to 62 inches. These types of dusters can pivot in all different angles and directions to aid in your cleaning.

The interesting thing about these types of dusters is the fact that not only can they be used for high to reach places they can also be used for those low places in your home that can be a struggle. You can simply adjust the height and dust off your baseboards, under bookcases, and lower side tables.

Make Your Own DIY Natural Dusting Spray

Just take a look in the cleaning section of your local supermarket. You’ll probably be overwhelmed with the variety of different dusting sprays from different brands. Did you realize you can actually make your own dusting spray at home? Better still, you probably already have all of the ingredients in your cupboard.

  • 2 teaspoons of Olive Oil
  • A ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 5 drops of lemon essential oil
  • A spray bottle

Vinegar is one of the most amazing properties for cutting through all kinds of dirt and grime, hence why vinegar spray is one of the bestselling household cleaning products. The added water makes the vinegar less acidic so it won’t damage any of your surfaces, while the olive oil works to shine up your wood surfaces. The Lemon is merely to add a nice scent, feel free to replace it with any other scent you prefer!

Get Ready Dusting Wipes

Dusting wipes are a great cupboard essential for those days when you don’t have too much time on your hands. You can buy disposable dusting cloths in any local supermarket but you can also make your own at home and it’s super fun and easy.

To make your own wipes at home you will need:

  • A mason jar or another similar large jar
  • Microfiber cloths, cheap washcloths or an old t-shirt
  • Diluted white vinegar
  • 1 or 2 lemons

Firstly, choose the material you want to use for the clothes themselves. If you decide to use an old t-shirt you will need to cut it up into squares about the same size as average cloths which are usually just slightly bigger than your hand.

duster is dirty

Pour your vinegar dilute into a jar (half water, half vinegar). Squeeze the lemon and add a few spoons of it into the vinegar dilute. Place the cloths into the jar and allow them to soak up the mixture.

After 5 minutes take them out and ring out the excess liquid, you want your clothes to be damp as opposed to soaking wet. Keep the cloths in a sealed jar and use them within two weeks. Then simply wash and make again!

Tips to Boost your Vacuuming

When it comes to vacuuming, here’s a tip. you want to make sure your vacuum is running as well as possible, otherwise, you run the risk of working twice as hard as is actually necessary wearing yourself out in the process.

Do a Pre Check on your Vacuum

When you plug your vacuum in and turn it on, take a minute to give it a once over. Check that the bag or dust compartment is empty and check that the head you are using is clear from any obstructions such as tangled hair which will compromise the suction. You also want to make sure the hose is free from any obstructions.

Use a Vacuum with a HEPA Filter

A HEPA filter is a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter, these filters are particularly beneficial for those with any allergies or sensitivities. The purpose of a HEPA filter is to trap 99.9% of dust particles.

If your vacuum doesn’t have a HEPA filter you run the risk of tiny dust particles being pushed back into the air instead of being trapped in the vacuum and leaving your home completely dust free.

If you have pets you should definitely have a HEPA filter to trap any hair and other allergens left behind by your pets in your home allowing you to breath better overall.

The importance of having a HEPA filter to assist in relieving allergies is discussed on Webmd who recommend the use of HEPA filter vacuums. Using a HEPA filter is particularly beneficial in months of high pollen count as pollen can be tracked into your home on the bottom of your shoes or even through an open window.

There are many vacuums out there that state on the box they have a High-Efficiency Filter but be sure to actually check that the filter itself has a serial number to indicate that this is actually true and not a marketing ploy. The serial number indicates that the filter has been fully tested and is a true HEPA filter.

spray cleaning supplies mop

Pre-clean your Carpet

While vacuums are great for picking up small dirt and dust particles, they are not suitable for use on large objects. Large pieces of plastic and other trash can get lodged in the hose and damage your vacuum. If an item gets lodged in your vacuum it will seriously diminish the suction power of it as well as risking causing permanent damage.

Walk around the area you are going to vacuum and make sure to pick up any pieces of dirt that are larger than a dime as these run the risk of getting caught in the hose. Also, pick up any strings or threads that can get caught up in the brush head and make it less efficient, this also extends to large amounts of hair that are visible to the naked eye, particularly on bathroom floors or wherever else your family brushes their hair.

It’s also extremely important to make sure your carpet is completely dry as you cannot vacuum a wet carpet. Say, if your carpet has spilt coffee in it. (see Keurig k50 vs k55) If your carpet is wet with coffee like Jura A1 coffee machine, the vacuum will suck up a lot of wet grime. That can build up in your vacuum and reduce its suction power or completely clog it up. A wet carpet also runs the risk of developing mold.

Utilize Attachments

You would never use a fork to eat your soup in the kitchen so be sure that when you are vacuuming that you are using the most suitable attachment. It’s also not recommended that you use your vacuum without any attachment at all. The majority of modern vacuum cleaners come with multiple attachments included.

Take the time to get to know your vacuum and what each different attachment should be used for. Most vacuums should come with a booklet to explain the various attachments but even if it doesn’t some trial and error will be your best friend.

Brush attachments are usually the best option for vacuuming carpets, particularly on stairs. The long straight attachment is best used to get into tight corners and under furniture.

Take Your Time

It can be very tempting to just speed around your home and get the job of vacuuming done as quickly as possible. But this definitely isn’t recommended. By vacuuming this way, you will not get up all the dirt that has settled in your carpets.

Take your time when vacuuming. Yes, it will take longer. But the results will be better. You will also have to hoover less frequently if you do the job right. High traffic areas of your home are the areas you will want to particularly concentrate and take your time on. Rooms that are rarely used may be okay for just a quick run around.

A steady pace is key, making sure your lines overlap so as not to miss any dirt. As you move through your home, keep an eye on the bag. Make sure it doesn’t get full and compromise the suction.

Clear the Space and Furniture

It can be very tempting to simply vacuum around the furniture in your home but if you want to be sure that you are thoroughly cleaning your home, you really should move the furniture aside.

There are several reasons why moving your furniture is important:

  1. Thoroughly cleaning around and under your furniture without moving it is a very difficult, It requires much more work than actually just moving your furniture. Sure, the vacuum might be able to clean the outer edges fine. But if you want to clean the floors thoroughly, you’re going to want to mop also.
  2. It might seem clean if you just hover the edges. But it’s impossible for your vacuum to pick up everything without moving things aside.
  3. Banging your vacuum against furniture will reduce the longevity of your vacuum. It will also damage your furniture.


vacuum cleaner on carpet

You should ideally never let it fill above halfway. This is to optimize the efficiency of your vacuum. It also helps to avoid any unnecessary overworking of yourself. You also might want to consider going over the most used areas of your house twice. This will really ensure that you don’t miss anything. The last thing you want is put the vacuum away and discover an area that you missed.


Deciding whether you should dust or vacuum first is a conflicting dilemma. What suits one person doesn’t suit another. When it comes to cleaning your home, only you are best placed to decide what will work best for you. Neither answer is right or wrong. It all comes down to what works best for you and your family and gets the job done effectively. See my Shark Troubleshooting Error Guide

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