Sheds and garages are dusty places. They are often built without being tightly-sealed, and you are constantly bringing vehicles, lawnmowers, and other things in that carry dust with them.
Not only is dust annoying, it’s gross, and possibly harmful. That seemingly innocuous crap that builds up on your workbench and shed floor is a conglomeration of nastiness. If you take a close look at dust you’ll not only find dirt, you’ll also find dead skin, hair, pollen, plant fibers, pet dander, dust mite carcasses, dust mite feces, bits of spider web, and more. What’s worse is that you can never get rid of it completely: as long as there are living things, there will be dust. There are, however, a number of things you can do to significantly reduce dust in the shed or garage, but it will always be there.
Not to be an alarmist, but one of the more disturbing things I’ve recently learned is that, aside from all the other nastiness it’s comprised of, dust is a major source for PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers). In fact, the EPA estimates that 80% of PBDE exposure comes from house dust. So what are PBDEs and why should you care? Well, PBDEs are flame retardants that can be found in many of the things we own such as electronics, computers, cell phones, furniture, carpet pads, mattresses, and automobiles, just to name a few. PBDEs are bioaccumulants that have been shown, in lab animals, to have toxic effects on both the liver and the thyroid, which, in turn, can cause endocrine disruptions that can lead to neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring. Like I said, I don’t want to be an alarmist. These are the results from tests on lab animals, not humans. However, since the use of several types of PBDEs have been banned in the United States, I have to believe there is at least some cause for concern and will, therefore, put a little more effort into cleaning dust in my home.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Dust in a Shed or Garage
Get rid of dust magnets.
The best thing you can do for yourself when trying to reduce the amount of dust in your shed or garage is to get rid of the things that dust likes to settle on. You don’t want to hear this, but any rugs or carpeting under your feet should be the first thing to go. Look also at cardboard, drop cloths, blankets, and other things you might be collecting dust without being easy to clean.
Use a shop vac early and often
A shop vac is an absolute game-changer when it comes to cleaning up a cluttered garage or shed. As any experienced DIYer knows, these versatile machines are a must-have for maintaining a tidy workspace. Use them as clean-up after a project, or simply make a habit of cleaning with them once every week or two.
First and foremost, a shop vac is designed to handle the messiest of tasks, from sawdust and wood chips to spilled paint and oil spills. Its powerful suction can make quick work of debris that a regular broom or dustpan would struggle with. Moreover, a shop vac isn’t just for dry messes – many models are equipped to handle wet spills as well, making it an all-in-one solution for any cleanup job.
Using a shop vac effectively in your garage or shed is a straightforward process. Begin by selecting the appropriate attachment for the task at hand. For general cleanup, a wide nozzle attachment works well, while a crevice tool is handy for reaching into tight corners and along edges. Start from the farthest corner and work your way toward the exit to avoid walking over freshly cleaned areas. When dealing with liquids, ensure you’ve switched to the wet mode and have the proper filters in place. Empty the vacuum drum regularly, as it can fill up quickly, and maintaining clean filters is essential for optimal performance.
Your shop vac can help get rid of dust before it becomes airbornes and starts spreading around, 24/7.
I tend to be partial to the Ridgid brand of Shop Vac, found here on Amazon.
Many people do a rather poor job when it comes to dusting, and if you have dust allergies or have children or pets with dust allergies (see below for symptoms), then this is important. Dusting should be done at least twice a week. Start dusting high and work your way down. Don’t forget the lights and storage areas up high in your shed, and the tops of window frames.
For hard-to-reach places, ostrich feather dusters are nice. They quickly develop a static charge that works well for holding onto dust rather than just spreading it. If you use the rag or glove method, dampen them lightly with your cleaner of choice. Take your time and do a good job. If there’s dust to clean, clean it.
Cleaning dust from floors.
After you’ve dusted all the furniture, decorations, and fixtures, that dust is gonna have to settle somewhere. That somewhere is the floor. And so it doesn’t get kicked back up into the air, it’s important to clean the floors immediately after you dust.
Assuming you have hard floors, don’t be tempted to sweep. It is better to shop vac or mop your floor. While it may be tempting to sweep first, I advise against it. Sweeping is notorious for throwing dust back up into the air. When cleaning dust from floors, it’s also a good idea to move appliances and shelving.
If you are lucky enough to have a sealed garage floor, then using a damp mop can be a great way to clean up. Dust typically cleans up really well from that type of surface.
Keep a tidy workspace
The more junk you have laying around, the more surface area there is for dust to collect on.
Pick up piles old rags, drop cloths, tools, and spare mechanical parts. Store small items in boxes, totes, or bags. While you’re at it, store off-season equipment and gear in the same way.
Use good air filters.
When attempting to control dust in your home, one of the best things you can do is to replace old dirty filters (furnace, air conditioner) with new ones. Don’t cheap out on the new filters either. It’s well worth it to spend the extra few bucks on a good one. Just make sure to pick one with a
high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. MERV values range from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter. Keep air ducts clean, too. If you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself, you can hire it done. Our favorite, by far, is the Blue Air lineup. We especially like the 205.
HEPA Filters, HEPA Air Purifiers, & HEPA Vacuum Cleaners
HEPA air is good air, right? Right. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. This is really just fancy talk for “filters that filter the crap out of your air.” A true HEPA filter will remove 99.97 percent of all particles larger than 0.3 micrometers from passing air. This is a lifesaver for people with extremely dusty homes, for people who have dust allergies, and for people who just don’t want to clean dust quite so often.
Luckily for all, the HEPA air filter is becoming more and more common. Not only will a high quality air filter remove dust, but it can go a long way in removing smoky odors and other scents from a shed or garage.
You purchase HEPA filters for your HVAC system, and you can also buy free-standing HEPA air cleaners and HEPA air purifiers that plug into the wall and work very much like a fan.
Let’s not forget about the HEPA shop vac either. It’s true. You can now buy shop vacs that come with HEPA filters inside them.
Natural Solutions for Cleaning Dust
Seventh Generation Glass & Surface Cleaner
When looking for natural answers for how to clean dust, this product from Seventh Generation is as good as it gets. It’s made entirely from organic ingredients and is completely biodegradable. Simply spray a little on your rag or dusting glove and get to work.
Miracle Mitt Dusting Glove by Jokari
This little gem is a fantastic tool for dusting and getting rid of dust. It is made from electrostatic microfiber and so can be used without the addition of any cleaners whatsoever. Microfiber is well known for its ability to hold onto dirt and dust. Best of all, the Miracle Mitt is washable and reusable.
Method Multi-Surface Natural All Purpose Cleaner
This is another good dusting product that is free of harsh, scary cleaning agents. This cleaner is all natural and biodegradable and is safe for almost any surface in your home, including sealed wood. It can also be purchased without any dyes or perfumes added. Though, to be honest, we recommend the Pink Grapefruit scented one.