Question: “My husband and I just finished building a house and now I’m tasked with cleaning up the construction mess. Any tips on how to get all that dust off the floor and window sills? We’ve tried sweeping, swiffering (both wet and dry), and a big soft floppy mop. Our hardwood floors are an engineered product – maple wood with an amber finish. They are hand-scraped. Any other construction clean-up tips you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!”
Construction projects make wonderful changes to our homes, but leave a blanket of dust that is more of a challenge to remove than one may expect. Patience and perseverance are key with this post-construction task. Here are some methods you can use to get rid of the dust for good.
You Will Need:
- Air filters
- A face mask
- Dust mop or towel
- Dust mop treatment
- Soft towel
- Used dryer sheets
- Cleaner for specified flooring type
- Plenty of patience
Methods for Removing Dust:
Dust needs to be trapped rather than spread into the air or it will just land in a new location. With the high levels of dust produced during construction, it will take several cleanings to remove it all. Here are a couple of methods to get rid of dust for good.
- One of the first lines of defense against dust is the air filters in your home. They trap dust, but they can also add it to the air if they are not cleaned and replaced regularly. Check your air filters first and replace as needed. For more information, see How to Clean Your Homes Air Filter.
- If the dust is still heavy in the air, you can rent an air scrubber from a major hardware store to remove the bulk of the dust. This can be helpful while cleaning as well to remove the dust that you kick up.
- Wearing a face mask is important to prevent inhaling the dust. These can be purchased at a hardware store.
- Vacuuming is the first step for removing the dust. It will remove the most amount of dust and is the easiest to do. Put an upholstery brush on the vacuum wand. Start at the top of a room and work your way down. That means to vacuum the top of the wall first. Work in sections, moving the wand sideways across each section. (If your vacuum has a filter, be sure to monitor it and clean as needed.)
- If there are vents present, remove the covers and vacuum inside of the vents as thoroughly as possible.
- Vacuum the top ledges above window and door frames.
- Don’t forget to do shelves and light fixtures.
- Vacuum carpets using the beater brush if your vacuum has that option.
- For hard floors, use a treated dust mop. If you don’t have a pre-treated dust mop, you can buy dust mop treatment online or in some supermarkets and spray your dust mop or spray the treatment on a cloth and wrap the cloth around a push broom or Swiffer. Green World N dust mop treatment is advertised of having 0% VOCs.
- For any floors like concrete or rough stone that cannot be used with a dust mop, vacuum instead.
- After vacuuming, wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth to remove the remaining dust. Again, start at the top and work your way down.To easily remove dust from walls, moisten a soft towel with water and wrap it around the bottom of a broom. Secure with tape if necessary. An alternative is to use a flat sponge mop. If you don’t have one of these, you can get one at a dollar store. Just don’t soak the mop sponge, it only needs to be damp.
- Push the towel around the wall to collect any dust and wipe it away. The broom handle will help to reach the tops of the walls.
Warning: If the walls have been recently painted, avoid using anything too moist on them as it can damage the paint. Most paints require 30 days to cure completely.
- For baseboards and ledges, used dryer sheets make great dust collectors. Bounce dryer sheets, which have already been through a cycle in the dryer, will collect dust like a magnet. Simply wipe them along ledges and baseboards then toss them in the trash.
- As a final step, mop all hard floors.
- After cleaning, check the air filters again to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Do not try to mop hard floors before removing as much dust as possible with a dust mop or vacuum. The fine grains of dust can scratch your new floors while mopping.
- For steps to clean other areas of your home after construction, see these related articles:
- Construction Cleanup by Don Aslett
- Ultimate Guide to Masonry and Concrete by Creative Homeowner
- The Queen of Clean’s Complete Cleaning Guide by Linda Cobb
Professionals will take dampened sawdust, sprinkle it around (even on the windowsills), sweep off and most of the fine dust will be trapped in the larger particles and you can pick up the sawdust, then vacuum or Swiffer up the balance. It works really great in the shop too.
J H says
Get a wet/dry vac and the brush/floor attachment at your local home improvement center. Buy an extra filter or two. The amount of dust and dirt collected compared to sweeping alone will amaze you.
We just went through this on my in-laws’ kitchen facelift. We changed the floor from tile to wood and ripped the backsplash off the drywall so there was a TON of dust, and in everyone’s gusto to get going, we did not enclose the dust area.
The best single product to help remove the dust was TACK CLOTH. It is like a sticky dust rag that painters use before painting cars, fine trim, etc. It can be found in the paint aisle in two or three packs at your local hardware store.
Also, get about three cheap furnace/AC filters and change them out regularly. Avoid running the AC/heat/fan during the project if possible. That filter catches a ton of the dust, which may cause damage or reduce efficiency, not to mention potential air quality problems.
Good luck. It can be done . . . You will have your house back.
These tips are helpful. I clean houses as a side job. I like to vacuum as much as I can in every room, then go back with a damp Swiffer (throw away dirt). The tacky cloths work well on small areas. I like to use the used dryer sheets to remove lint from the tray or to pick up crumbs in kitchen. Works well on hair around toilet and baseboards. Recycle!
Recently there was construction done in my apartment. All of my belongings were placed in my bedroom, a front hall closet and bathroom. Concrete was taken out of the living room and kitchen and then re-laid. There was also some drying out water damage and sanding or replacing areas that were damaged. Upon my return to my apartment, there was a fine white dust on everything. Clothing, dishes, medicine cabinet – all items in each room. (So, all of my belongings.) After attempting to clean, I developed a very bad sore throat and my face began to burn like a sunburn. I am worried about whether this is 1) effecting my health and 2) if I can truly get this all out of my belongings. Apparently construction workers are told not even to clean up at home or bring their clothing in, as it can affect their household and family members. How much silica is too much silica? Should I just throw away all my belongings? Am I really getting them clean?
Any luck with silica research? I would think one exposure would not be bad, and the face burning may be an allergic reaction. I would be interested if you’ve heard from anyone with experience in the area.
I moved into a newly remodeled apt., and now have a white powder-like substance coming up through the newly laid tile floors throughout entire apt.; I cannot get rid of the powder. I’m now getting sore throats, nasal congestion, headaches; is it from the powder? How do I get rid of the powder? What causes it? Any help would be greatly helpful.
Our builder did his sawing in the house and sawdust went everywhere, including into the furnace filter. It’s in the air. I can’t find a local place to rent a HEPA-type filter. What can I do? I changed the air filter and it isn’t getting that dirty. The one I took out was LOADED. Somehow I have to get as much of this dust out as possible.
It sounds like you have already seen this post: How to Remove Dust from Air. Instead of renting a HEPA air scrubber, you can buy a HEPA air purifier for around the same cost. They are available at most Walmart and major hardware stores. It may take longer, but it would still help. You could also try calling the construction company that did your work and ask if they have one available that you could use.
If a HEPA air filter is absolutely not an option, then simply moving the air out of the house with open windows and fans may be your next best bet. Other than that, you can try doing a rotation of airing the house out during the day, then letting the dust settle at night and mop up whatever has settled in the morning before starting the ventilation again.
We had this problem; the painter removed the inside filter so all the sanding dust entered into our AC unit. The outside filters were so full of “stuff” they had collapsed into the unit. We had the duct work cleaned and the AC unit cleaned. We don’t have that problem any longer.
Hi, I have a mother-in-law who tried to tell me to use vinegar to clean drywall walls to remove dirt and dust…I’ve used a sponge mop before and I like that idea a lot…thanks for the advice.