One of the most common issues I find, having been in the cleaning business for over 10 years, is that many people don’t know all the ins and outs of dusting. Whether you’re a dusting expert or not, I’d like to share some tips and tricks to remember when going about your cleaning routine.

Always Dry Dust

When you dust a surface, keep in mind that dust is like a tiny little slurry of all kinds of things from your fabric, to your skin, to your pet’s hair, among other stuff. If this thin layer happens to get wet it turns into a streaky paste that can be hard to clean off, especially if you’re cleaning a baseboard or other surface that collects thicker dust. The mistake I see people often making is they will spray their cloth first, then go to wipe down the dust, but this only makes it harder to clean in the long run. Remember, dust first, then clean.

Use the Right Tools

Here at Clean My Space, I like to talk about PTTs. These are the products, tools, and techniques available to get the job done right. When it comes to dusting, the tools are key, so let’s talk about a few.

I sometimes hear people talk about dusting with an old rag or a super fluffy duster, or even just a flat cloth. The truth of the matter is that you need a microfiber cloth for this job. This is because the tiny little fibers are amazing at picking up dust and has an electrostatic charge which turns the cloth into a literal dust magnet.

If you use a general-purpose microfiber cloth it will dust like never before. If you use regular cloth or a rag it will end up leaving dust and lint behind. If you use a disposable product, well, it was designed to be thrown out so it won’t last long and it will be terrible for the environment. When picking your cloth, make sure that it is a general purpose, sort of, terry-weave microfiber cloth. If you pick the wrong one it could make your life difficult and it could extend your cleaning time.

Vacuum Last

When I teach people how to clean, I always talk about the 3 Wave System. First, you tidy, then you clean, and finally you deal with the floors. This method is simple but very effective. If you vacuum first then bits of dust will kick up and fall back onto the floor when you tidy and clean.

I like giving rooms a little bit of time to breathe after I clean so that I know all the dust has fallen and settled. The only time it makes sense to vacuum first, is if you have a lot of pet hair at home. In this case, I recommend doing the old vacuum sandwich. Vacuum first, then clean, then vacuum again. Other than this the rule always applies. Vacuum last!

The Feather Duster

Don’t take your cleaning advice from an actor on tv or in a movie. Normally the way actors use feather dusters is they just dab them around lightly, trying to look like a cute maid. But in reality, this is not thorough enough to give surfaces a proper dusting. Although feather dusters can be useful for getting cobwebs in tough places, I must admit that I’m not a big fan of the tool and prefer to use a microfiber cloth. Sometimes the duster’s plume simply spreads dust around and does not pick it up properly. If you do plan on using feather dusters then the technique is to move from one side to the other with a quick stroke. When you’re done with the duster you can give it a tap over the garbage or sink and then you can re-use it some other time!

Remove, Dust, & Replace

I know it can be tempting to clean areas of dust you pass throughout your day, but the truth is, if you want to get rid of all the dust you will have to move everything off the surface, give it a good cleaning, dust all of the items taken off, then put everything back. This goes for everything, including cabinets, shelves, pictures, and paintings on walls. If you just casually do a wipe, all the un-dusted little nooks and crannies are going to stick out like a sore thumb. If you do it properly the first time then you won’t have to go back and do it all over again in a couple of days. Use this technique and you’ll be saving time and doing it right.

Top to Bottom

Whenever you’re dusting, you want to work with gravity. Start at the top of a surface and work your way to the bottom. If you dust something at waist height and then dust above it, it will defeat the whole purpose. Always dust from top to bottom. It is a great way to shorten your cleaning routine, giving you more time or energy for other things!

8 Side Folding Trick

If you observe professional cleaners, you’ll notice that they often clean many surfaces with just a single rag. Think this is gross? I’ll tell you why it’s not! Professionals have a trick whereby they fold their cloth into quarters, dividing them into 8 different cleaning surfaces. This lets you get the most out of your cleaning cloth and will leave you with less laundry from all the rags used. A microfiber cloth can hold eight times its weight in water and even more in dust, which means one cloth gives you a lot of mileage if you fold it correctly.

High Dusting

When we clean, we often focus on the areas that are most visible, which tends to be whatever is at our eye level and a little downward. The area that we clean the least tends to be the tough stuff that’s high up, ledges over doors, crown moldings, light fixtures, corners, top of cabinets, etc. The issue with this is that the dust can build up over time and with one gust of wind or fan it will get blown everywhere. This is also a problem because it will negatively effect the indoor air quality and an overall sense of stuffiness. This is not a task that needs to be done everyday but once in a while it is a good idea to look and high and dust those usually un-seen spots.

Vacuum Issues

I’ve run a professional cleaning business since 2006 and we use our client’s vacuum cleaners, which means if they have a malfunctioning or poorly maintained vacuum, it actually means we have to work harder on the dusting side of things. This is because vacuuming and dusting are very much related. You can’t remove all of the dust from a home if the vacuum isn’t working well.

Now, what does it mean to really maintain a vacuum? Essentially we are talking about the vacuum bin or bag needing to be emptied, as well as the filter bag needing to be changed. Your vacuum filters have to be cleaned and maintained routinely if you want your vacuum to work properly. If your vacuum has cleanable filters then you want to make sure this is sealed properly when you put it back together. Otherwise the air coming out the back of the vacuum actually made the room even dirtier. You would think that a vacuum is a self-cleaning tool, but it really isn’t. You really have to maintain it.

Sometimes we would have clients who would say, “Well, I don’t need a vacuum, I have hardwood floors and I usually just sweep”. Here is the issue with this. Now, cosmetically, your floors might look dust-free, but there are still dust particles in the air and in the floor cracks, which the vacuum can suck up. When you’re sweeping or just doing a quick microfiber pad floor clean, you’re not necessarily getting rid of all of the dust in your home. This is why I often talk about the importance of having a vacuum with a good quality filter, so that it really removes dust efficiently. If you sweep your floor you’ll notice within a little bit of time that dust will resettle on your surfaces because all you are doing with the broom is kicking up and moving a bunch of dust that you will then have to clean again. Safe yourself the grief and do it right the first time.

Now you can write your dissertation on dusting! Thank you for sticking with me today, I hope these little tricks and tips will help you shorten your cleaning routine while maintaining quality and efficiency.

You can also visit the Maker’s Clean store and the Clean My Space classes we offer.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. I’m not the cleaner you are – yet, but I have an idiosyncrasy when it comes to spelling, grammar etc. You have such a great, well-written page on dusting, but there is a misspelled (or spell-checked) word in the second to last paragraph, last sentence. The word safe should likely be save.
    Now if I can become this detail oriented when it comes to cleaning.
    I love all the information you provided on You-Tube and will continue to review and watch for new information. I wish you had been around when I was a young mother trying to keep up with everything. Oh well, it’s never too late to learn something new.


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