Should You Dust Before or After Vacuuming?

January 16, 2020
Jayson Mueller

When it comes to cleaning controversies, this one question has to be the biggest.

Do you dust before or after you vacuum? Some people say before, others are adamant that after is better. So which is right?

There are valid reasons for both ways, but in reality, there can only be one right way to dust.

In this article, we’ll look at this controversy and give you some helpful hints about dusting and vacuuming your home so that it is clean and healthy for your whole family.

Does vacuuming stir up dust?

This is a good question, and probably is the source of the idea that dusting should be done after vacuuming.

Lots of people think that running the vacuum, can stir up dust and make your home’s surfaces dirtier than when you started.

The reality here is that if your vacuum is stirring up dust, it probably means that your vacuum has a problem, or it’s time for a new vacuum.

Before you run out and buy a new vacuum, if you’re noticing that your vacuum is starting to kick up dust, there are a few easy and relatively inexpensive repair measures you can take to stop your vacuum from throwing dust around.

Clean the beater bar

Cleaning Vacuum Brush Bar

What’s the beater bar?

It’s the rolling brushes underneath your vacuum.

The beater bar agitates your carpet and brings dirt, debris, and hair into the vacuum.

If your vacuum’s beater bar is filled with hair, fuzz or string, it may not work as effectively as it would if the brushes were clean.

This can also slow down the beater bar, sending dirt out from under the vacuum, instead of into the vacuum.

If you notice that your vacuum’s beater bar is full of stuff, simply tip it over, and remove the material that is filling it up.

Make sure to unplug your vacuum first though. Getting your fingers stuck in your vacuum beater bar can be painful.

Check for holes

If your vacuum is older, and if you use the hose with hand tools often, you may wear small holes into the vacuum hose.

If you notice that you’re spreading more dust than you’re collecting, check for holes in the hose.

One or two holes can easily be covered with tape (duct or electrical is best).

If you’ve got a bunch of holes in your vacuum hose, a replacement hose from Amazon or your local vacuum repair store is a more affordable solution than buying a brand new vacuum.

Clean or replace filters

Washing Vacuum Cleaner Filter

Most bagless vacuums have at least one air filter that traps small particles that might not stay in the canister.

If you’re noticing that dust is coming from your vacuum, you might need to replace or clean the filter(s).

Follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual for your vacuum. If it’s time to replace, you’ll find that filters in most cases will cost you less than $20.

Replace bag

If your vacuum still uses a bag, make sure that you replace it often.

A vacuum with a full bag won’t hold on to anything, and you’ll notice a visible cloud of dust coming from your vacuum.

This quick and simple fix will have your vacuum working like a champ in just a few minutes.

Correct Assembly

This can be a problem with canister vacuums.

If you don’t have the canister correctly installed, you may have a problem with dust coming from your vacuum.

Before you throw in the towel on your vacuum, make sure the canister is seated correctly and is making a tight seal when it’s locked in.

If you’ve tried all of these simple fixes, and your vacuum still sends dust everywhere, it may be time to buy a new vacuum.

If you need some suggestions, check out our vacuum buying guides for our favorite options.

How Often Should You Dust?

Dust On The Furniture

Really this is a matter of preference, but there are some handy suggestions if you want to keep your house clean and fresh.

Most professional housekeepers and cleaners will recommend that you dust your home at least monthly.

This will keep dirt and allergens to a minimum in your home.

If you’ve got a lot of knick-knacks and items sitting on tables and shelves, you dusting more than once a month could seem like a big task.

And frankly, who wants to work that hard more than once a month?

However, if you have someone in your house that has allergies, if your home is older and not well sealed, or if you have pets, you may want to consider dusting more often.

While monthly is fine for most homes, if your home meets one of the conditions above, you may find that dusting every other week or even every week is necessary for keeping your home free of dust and allergens as minimal as possible.

You probably don’t want to dust more often than weekly, simply because it can be a very time consuming task.

So…Before or After?

So what is best? Dusting before you vacuum or after?

The experts tell us that dusting before you vacuum is the best way to get you home the cleanest.


Here are a few reasons:

  • Dusting kicks up dust. If you dust before you vacuum, you allow any dust that has become airborne while dusting to settle on your floors. This makes your cleaning process more complete and gets more of the dirt, dander, and hair out of your home than if you vacuum and then dust.
  • If you move furniture when you vacuum, dusting first allows you to wipe down furniture, and then pick up the most dirt possible from behind and around furniture as you move it. Dusting after just means that you’ve deposited dust on the floor behind and around furniture before you’ve even finished cleaning.

Hints to Make Dusting More Effective

Sweeping Dust From Bed

Dusting seems like an easy task, but the reality is that if you don’t do it right, it can be a ton of extra work.

Here are some hints to help you make dusting a more effective and less time consuming task.

Use the right tool

Skip the feather duster, and switch to a microfiber or static cling dusting cloth.

Feather dusters seem cute and might be a fun tool to offer your kiddos if you want them to learn housekeeping skills.

However, as a real cleaning tool, they aren’t terribly helpful. Feather dusters are better at spreading dust than picking up dust.

If you want to pick up the most dust and be the most productive, try a microfiber cloth or a dusting cloth like a Swiffer.

These items are designed to trap dust and keep it from spreading.

Damp cloths

damp cloths

Use a damp cloth for dusting if you have allergies. Or try a product like Pledge, to keep dust from flying around.

Keep in mind, however, products like Pledge generally contain wax, oils, and fragrances.

Wax and oils can be harmful to some surfaces, and even over time can build up on wood, making it look dull and feel sticky.

Fragrances can be hard on allergies and asthma.

Be mindful if you want to use the products to use them sparingly, and discontinue use if you notice that they irritate members of your household.

Brush to the floor

Guide your cloth to the edges of furniture or shelves so that dust that doesn’t stick to the cloth can be picked up by your vacuum.

This will ensure that your home is as clean as possible, and you don’t have to work extra duty.

Maintain your vacuum

Vacuum Maintenance

Don’t negate your dusting efforts with a vacuum that just kicks up dust.

Make sure that your vacuum is well maintained and in good working order.

Clean and replace filters, replace hoses when necessary and keep the beater bar clean.

If you’re using a canister vacuum, make sure that you empty the canister frequently.

And, if you still like to use a vacuum with a bag, don’t neglect to change the bag frequently.

These are all tiny and easy steps to take to keep your vacuum working well, and picking up dust, instead of creating dust.

Know when it’s time for a new vacuum.

Vacuums won’t last forever, eventually, they won’t clean as well, no matter how much maintenance you do.

When it’s time, be prepared to replace your vacuum.


Vacuuming and dusting are two cleaning tasks that go hand in hand.

They work together to keep your home clean and free of dust, hair, and dander, which can diminish the air quality in your home.

Knowing the right way to dust and vacuum ensures that you get the best results with the most efficient use of your time.

We’ve given you our suggestions on how to best combine dusting and vacuuming, for the highest quality results.

Remember, dust before you vacuum so that you get the biggest bang for your buck.

And always take good care of your vacuum so that it cleans well, and doesn’t make a bigger mess.

Jayson Mueller
Jayson Mueller loves his house in the Bay Area. Over the last ten years, he's gone from theory to practice – researching the best upgrades and repairs for his house while trying to do as much as he can on his own. He's happy to help you make your house a home as well!

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