I Will Never Have A Dust Free House

Sadly, this is a problem. I would certainly like to have a dust free house, but it just isn’t happening. When the house is closed up in the winter, I really notice it, too.

I Swiffer. I microfiber. I sometimes use dust-and-allergen spray on soft cloths. I just can’t escape the dust in this house! There are rugs at the door that get cleaned regularly. We remove shoes, usually, in the house. The kitchen floor gets swept daily, and the bathroom floors dusted regularly. I suppose I should step up my cleaning cycles, and maybe that will help. More vacuuming per week, more Swiffering. I’m going to try it. I already vac-ed and scrubbed the upholstered couches in the family room, which helped a little.

My scrubbing buddy

One thing I learned when I researched air leaks years ago, is that air duct systems with gaps and holes can not only cause energy loss, but also cause dirt and dust throughout the infrastructure to be spread around the house. The forced air pulls air into the system through cracks, air that comes from outside, or which is dirty from use over time, and, in my case, original construction.

Several years back, I took the shop vac hose, stuck it down a vent duct, and heard all sorts of noises as construction debris and who-knows-what was removed. That led to every single supply and return duct getting the shop vac treatment. An OPPD inspector also pointed out that the main return air ducting in the basement had been compromised (to accommodate the plumbing — whuh?!), and was completely open on the top side, pulling in moisture, dirt and gases to the air system. We were able to easily stick our hands into the duct. Within minutes I had that flashing bent back and screwed on; shortly thereafter I used mastic on all the exposed joints I could reach. And the quality of air improved greatly, but it is still dusty.

We considered getting the ducts cleaned and sealed, but that has not borne out, mainly because I know plumbing and electrical are run through the vents (smh). I’ve sealed up what I can. The inspector (and my further research) recommended many inexpensive fixes for air leaks, which would also reduce dust, and which made an immediate impact. All the efforts to prevent air leaks, also help prevent dust from flowing with that leaking air.

Another huge help: sealing up the slots for the filters on the ventilation blower with long strips from a giant vent magnet. They can be removed very simply when replacing the filters (one thin strip runs along the top to cover the remaining 1/2″ gap).  This also helps because the filter housing is very near the main sewer drain, as it is in most homes. The blower was pulling in air from the sewer area, which not only caused smelly and too-humid air, but also occasionally dried up the water “seal” in the drain, causing all sorts of problems. Two birds, one stone.

One side removed. You can see where the filter goes. All the gaps allow the blower to pull in surrounding air: basement mustiness, sewer stuff, emissions from the gas water heater, any kind of environmental gas like radon…

Back to the dust.

I know we need new flooring, which will help tremendously. That’s a big ticket savings item for another year, and the solution is still in discussion. Until then, I will continue to vacuum, sweep and mop regularly. I will still scrub the carpets and rugs about once a year. And I’ll do these more frequently. That’s the plan.

But there remain the collectors of the dust: clutter. Of course, every year we all vow to declutter. And I do a couple major rooms here and there. This year, I’d like to address the whole house. Today I start a sensible decluttering and purging of things. I’ll address a few areas per week. I might not show you all the pictures because I don’t want to embarrass other members of my household. But I’ll show you the frugal solutions, along with products and techniques that I think are winners.

I won’t be using any of the popular, fancy decluttering books, or systems. I’m using my 55+ years of experience, common sense, and great ideas, new and old. Mostly, I’m just making myself do it. Call it extended spring cleaning. Call it “a process.” I’m calling it overdue.

Won’t you join me on this journey to eliminate clutter sensibly?

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