Vacuum or Dust First? The Ultimate Cleaning Strategy for a Spotless Home

Most people approach their chores and cleaning as a necessary evil and let’s face it no one likes to clean things twice. So, it’s important to implement an efficient cleaning strategy to simplify the process and avoid repetition. One of the most common questions related to home cleaning is whether a person should vacuum or dust first.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the proper home cleaning sequence to keep your home cleaner and healthier.

The Importance of a Clean Home

vacuum or dust first A couple doing bothThe short answer to “Should I dust first or vacuum first?” is that dusting should always precede vacuuming. But, to properly understand the reasoning behind this approach it’s important to understand why it’s necessary to clean your home regularly.

A clean home will contain less dust, pathogens, and allergens that can trigger allergic reactions, infections, and respiratory issues. Cleaning regularly reduces the time required for cleaning because there is less dust, dirt, and other debris in the home.

The indoor air quality (IAQ) will be improved, which is important as many homes have levels of airborne contaminants that are worse than the air quality outdoors.

Proper cleaning can prevent the spread of germs and diseases which is especially important in homes where young children and elderly people reside. Living in a clean and tidy home is more comfortable, it enhances the quality of life and it creates a positive impression on visitors and potential home buyers.

The Debate: Vacuum or Dust First?

Dusting should precede vacuuming because even if you are using a superior dust buster, some dust particles will escape. Dust can go airborne quickly and ultimately it will settle on another surface somewhere in the home. This is often the floor and the dust can be removed from those surfaces with vacuuming.

Think of vacuuming as a second opportunity to remove dust, dirt, and allergens that were dislodged by dusting. This is a relatively new approach, the older cleaning advice was to vacuum first and dust last. But, newer vacuums have more efficient filters that can remove more particulates.

If you dust areas with a clean microfiber cloth the surface will trap a lot of dust and dirt. As an added bonus any clumps of debris will fall to a lower surface or the floor for further dusting or vacuuming.

The Dusting Strategy

If you have trouble remembering whether you should vacuum or dust first, simply consider that dusting removes most of the dust. Dust that does escape will fall on the floor where it will be vacuumed up. Dusting is an important part of an efficient home cleaning strategy and it can be broadly divided into three sections, preparation, dusting technique, and follow-up.


1.    Dusting Preparation


You will need the right tools and supplies on hand for efficient dusting. Gather a selection of clean dusters or microfiber cloths to trap and prevent the spread of dust particles. Get a feather duster, dusting wand, or an extension pole system to dust those hard to reach areas. Choose an all-purpose dusting spray that’s suitable for the surfaces that you’re going to clean.


If you’re worried about the environmental implications of dusting sprays, there are plenty of green options available.


2.    Dusting Technique


Lady Dusting top shelfAlways work from the highest to lowest points to prevent the dust from resettling on surfaces that you’ve already cleaned. Start at the ceilings and corners with the extension pole or a long-handle feather duster to remove dust and cobwebs.

Dust around the moldings, light fixtures, and ceiling fans, and then down the walls to the baseboards.

With shelves, bookcases, entertainment centers, and other pieces of furniture, these same principles apply, start at the top and work your way down.

Use a microfiber cloth to gently clean keyboards, screens, framed photos, and other delicate items.

Clean and dust blinds, and window sills and use a glass cleaner on the window glass. Give hard floors a sweep with a duster to catch any residue that may have been left behind by the vacuuming.

Apply dusting spray directly to the cloth, then dust in a soft and gentle movement. When using disposal cloths throw them away as soon as they become dirty.


3.    Dusting Follow-Up


When finished wash your microfiber cloths and dusters.  To ensure that they are ready when you want to clean again. This is important to ensure that they trap dirt effectively and that you’re not spreading dust as you clean.

Make sure you pay attention to high-traffic areas, such as doors, windows, corridors, pet bedding, and other locations that tend to be dustier and dirtier.

Adopting a proactive mindset to home cleaning and establishing a schedule will make the process easier. Remember that regular cleaning will ensure that your home environment is cleaner and healthier.


The Vacuuming Strategy


Vacuuming should always follow dusting, here are fourteen tips to approach this task in an efficient manner:

Tip #1-Preparation:

Clear away toys, clutter, and other small objects that can prevent efficient vacuuming.

Tip #2-Move Light Furnishings:

Remove Chairs, side tables, rugs, and other light items, to improve vacuuming access, and get better results.

Tip #3-Select the Vacuum Cleaner:

A couple dusting and vacuuming bedroomThe vacuum cleaner, tools, and accessories should be appropriate for the type of flooring in the room you want to clean.

Tip #4-The Filter and Bag:

These should be in good condition and clean to prevent the vacuum from blowing more dust into the room.

Tip #5-Check the Vacuum Settings:

Make sure that the height and power settings are correct for the floor type. As a rule of thumb, lower settings are best for hard floors and higher settings are good for thicker carpets and rugs.

Tip #6- Vacuum Systematically:

Cover the entire area with multiple overlapping passes to ensure that you don’t miss any spots.

Tip #7- Regularly Change Direction:

This will ensure that you can lift the dirt, dust, and debris at different angles.

Tip #8- Protect Your Back:

Maintain a straight and upright posture with smooth and steady strokes to prevent backache.

Tip #9- Don’t Forget the Corners:

Use the hose and cleaning attachments to clean the corners, baseboards, and other hard to access areas.

Tip #10- Clean Soft Furnishings:

Vacuum furniture, area rugs, and other soft furnishings to remove allergens, dust, dirt, and pet hair.

Tip # 11- Emptying a Bagless Vacuum:

Empty the dust bin when it’s full to keep the unit working at optimal efficiency.

Tip #12 – Replacing a Bag:

Replace vacuum bag, when it’s full or when finished to prevent dust, dirt, and other debris from blowing back into your clean room.

Tip # 13- Cleaning and Maintenance:

The brushes, attachments, filters, and other parts of the vacuum cleaning system should be cleaned regularly.

Tip #14- Regular Vacuuming:

If you stick to a regular vacuuming schedule you will notice that it’s easier to clean your home. The high-traffic areas need to be cleaned more often and any spills and stains should be dealt with quickly or they will be harder to remove later.

The Ultimate Cleaning Strategy

To summarize, let’s look at the four stages of an efficient home cleaning strategy:

Stage 1- Remove Clutter:

Start at one end of the room and remove the clutter, such as toys, magazines, piles of laundry, light furniture rugs and other items. Have a trash bag on hand because you will probably come across stuff that you want to throw in the garbage. The things that you want to keep can be cleaned and placed in another room until you’re ready to return them to their rightful places.

Stage 2- Work from Top to Bottom:

Dusting BlindsDust descends and this is especially true during dusting. Although the dust will go airborne for a short time, it will always settle at the lowest point and this is usually the floor. When you work methodically in this way, you will prevent the dust from settling on areas that you’ve previously dusted.

Stage 3- Efficient Dust Capture:

Use a slightly damp microfiber cloth or an electrostatic duster to efficiently capture dust and dirt. A soft upholstery brush attachment can be used to clean the ceiling, walls, and soft furnishings. If you dust, wait 15 minutes, and then vacuum you can capture most of the dust particles that will settle on the floor.


When you vacuum work in a grid pattern, make overlapping passes and change direction regularly to capture more dust and dirt. Use the vacuum tools to reach into corners and other hard to access locations.

Vacuum or Dust First In Conclusion:

We hope that we’ve answered the vacuum or dust first question to your satisfaction. Regular and methodical dusting and vacuuming with clean microfiber cloths and tools is the key to success. If you establish a regular cleaning schedule, you will notice an improvement in the IAQ and your home will be much easier to clean. Following the tips and tricks presented in this article will help to dust and vacuum more efficiently which will give you more time to enjoy your clean and orderly home.

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