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Drywall dust released when sanding or cutting drywall sheets contains substances such as silica, gypsum, and mica – all of which can irritate your airways and cause discomfort. From my experience, if you do not sand and clean correctly, drywall dust can collect on floors, windows, doors, walls, carpets, grout lines, etc.. So, how do you clean up drywall dust?
Open your windows to ventilate the house, then sweep the drywall dust into a pile on the floor before disposing it in dust bags. Vacuum the floor thoroughly, then mop it to clean up all the drywall dust. Wipe all surfaces in the house with a damp piece of cloth and keep the house well-ventilated.
Since drywall dust particles are very tiny, I recommend you use a shop vac with strong suction and great airflow – such as the Dustless D1603 Shop Vac – for the best results or the Dewalt Dust Extractor for more Commercial (Heavy Duty) use. Those are what I use on the job.
- Automatic Filter Clean of the dust extractor pulses every 30 seconds for continuous operation without stopping to clean filter
- 15-amp motor of DEWALT dust extractor delivers 150 CFM of airflow
- Power Tool Actuation controls the On/Off operations of the vacuum with a power tool
- Meets the EPA Lead Related Renovations, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule for Hepa Vacuums only when DWV9330 Filters are used
- Universal hose connector provides a secure connection with swivel capability
Cleaning Drywall Dust
Before cleaning, wear a dust mask to protect yourself from inhaling harmful dust. I recommend the NASUM Reusable 8200 Face Cover for both drywall DIYers and professionals.
Here’s how to clean up drywall dust
Time: 5 minutes
1. Open all the windows in your house
Open the windows and doors in your house to increase ventilation and allow fresh air into the house. Also, ensure that all the vents, heating, and air conditioning systems are switched off. This will keep the least drywall dust circulating in the house while you clean it. Wear a dust mask or a respirator to avoid inhaling harmful drywall dust that might get kicked up during the cleaning process.
2. Place a fan at the window pointing outside
Since you will sweep some of the dust into piles and collect it, some dust will spread into the air. Placing a fan at the window and setting it to face outside is a great way to direct most of that dust outside. (A good portable fan such as the Lasko High-Velocity Quick Mount Fanu is great for this job. This step will be more efficient if you can open two or more windows, and if possible, you can put a fan in each. But the open windows would still work if you don’t have many fans in your house.
3. Sweep and remove the bulk of the drywall dust
Sweep most of the drywall dust into a pile using a broom and collect it in dust bags using a dustpan. You might want to spray a water mist onto the dust to make it less airborne. Remember that you’ll not be able to get all the dust this way, but you will get most of it. Collect the drywall dust in a garbage bag or pail, then wait for it to settle for about 15 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
4. Vacuum the floor and other surfaces
Use a good vacuum for drywall dust such as the Dustless D1603 Shop-Vacu, because these are made to collect tiny particles such as drywall dust, or use a brush attachment like this one from Hyde Tools and vacuum from top to bottom, left to right, and move gradually because drywall dust usually clings to walls. If you sprinkled water onto the dust, you might want to use a strong dry/wet shop vacuum to clean up the drywall dust without clogging the HEPA filters.
5. Clean the floor with a mop and water
After running your shop vac on the floor, the final step is cleaning with a damp cloth or a wet mop – but according to the type of flooring or surface you have. For example, use a microfiber cloth if you’re cleaning hardwood flooring. Use a commercial wet to clean drywall dust residue for concrete flooring in your garage. The damp cloth will easily pick up the dust residue, and you will also not have to stress about it turning into mud. Use a damp cloth to wipe the drywall dust from rough surfaces such as masonry and tile grout.
6. Ventilate the room
The last step is to ventilate the room adequately before using it. Also, check to ensure no new dust particles have settled onto other surfaces in the house before using it.
- PowernFace Mask
- Dustless VacuumnPortable FannPush BroomnMop and bucket
Materials: Extension Cord
Note: If you don’t wear a mask or a respirator and are exposed to drywall dust frequently and for an extended period, you might develop long-term respiratory problems.
Is it OK to vacuum drywall dust?
You can vacuum drywall dust but not use a regular household vacuum cleaner. Use a good shop vac to clean up fine drywall dust, or make sure you fit your regular vacuum with a heavy-duty HEPA filter to clean up drywall dust effectively.
The problem with a regular vacuum cleaner is that when you use it to get rid of the fine dust, the bags and filters get clogged quickly, making the vacuum spew dust back into the air.
Dust that fills up the air in your house can lead to respiratory problems, especially if you are not wearing a dust mask.
Your machine will also overheat when collecting fine drywall dust and can easily get damaged.
How To Remove Drywall Dust Before Painting
Okay, so we’ve learned how chalky drywall dust can be and how to clean it up generally. But in most cases, you’ll need to properly prepare and clean the drywall before painting over it. If you don’t remove the drywall dust properly, you will trap it with paint, and the wall will be bumpy and unattractive. So use the following steps to remove drywall dust before painting over it:
- Use a dustless shop vac to ensure all the fine particles are trapped and not blown back into the room. The brush attachment will be ideal for this step as you moved it slowly up and down and left and right to ensure you cover the entire area evenly.
- Follow with a microfiber cloth or a quality dust rag.
- Now you will use a wet sponge with cold water. Rub evenly in sections to absorb all the dust or to push it down the wall to the floor. Be sure to rinse after each small area to ensure you are using clean water in each section. If you are doing a large room, change the water every 10 feet or so.
- Wait for the drywall to dry completely, then you can use a black rag or shirt to rub on the wall to test if any white dust is coming off. If so then repeat the wet sponge run down.
Remove Drywall Dust on Concrete Floors
If you’re working with sheetrock with dust falling on the concrete floor, it is best to keep it a little wet to trap the dust easily. Concrete floors don’t scratch easily, so you can clean up drywall dust by scraping up the mud from the floor with a trowel.
Apart from the trowel, you’ll need some water in a spray bottle, a sponge, and a cloth or microfiber pad.
Here’s the best way to clean up drywall dust from concrete:
Scrape up excess drywall mud from the concrete floor using a trowel, then spray some water on the dirty spots. Scrub the floor with a sponge, adding more water to any stubborn drywall dust spots and repeating the process. Wet-mop the floor using a rug and keep your house well ventilated.
Alternatively, if the sheetrock dust isn’t much, vacuum it off the floor using a dry-wet shop vac with a brush attachment. Mop the floor with a wet microfiber pad to remove any particles of drywall compound that remain on the concrete.
Remove Drywall Dust from the Carpet
Carpets can absorb dust that can become very difficult to clean up. If, for some reason, sheetrock dust got its way into your carpet, you might want to rent a carpet cleaning machine to get rid of it effectively.
Here’s how to clean up drywall dust from carpet:
- Dampen the carpet with clear water.
- Run a carpet cleaning machine in small sections.
- Repeat the process to remove all the drywall dust particles from carpet fibers.
- Allow the carpet flooring to dry completely before using the room.
If you’re working on a home improvement project, you might want to remove the carpet first to prevent it from absorbing too much drywall dust. Alternatively, use duct tape to cover it with heavy-duty plastic sheeting held down on the edges. Once you’re done, fold away the plastic sheeting with the drywall dust and dispose of it safely.
Remove Drywall Dust on Doors, Windows, and Ceilings
Drywall dust goes airborne quickly and can settle on doors, windows, ceilings, and inside grout lines on your floor tiles. Cleaning the compound and dusting off these surfaces depends on the material.
- Doors: For doors, wipe the dust off the surface with a damp cloth then allow them to dry. Wipe with a clean piece of microfiber cloth to remove any streaks or lines left on your doors.
- Windows: Most windows have glass panes, so gently wipe them with soapy water and a soft microfiber cloth. Rinse with clean water, then wipe them with WD40 to remove any streak marks.
- Ceilings: If your ceiling is sheetrock, do not sprinkle water on it. Simply dry-wipe it or use a brush attachment with a long hose on your vacuum to clean up the drywall dust from the ceiling.
Use a Dust-free Drywall Sander to Prevent Dust
If you frequently deal with drywall dust or work in such an environment, you might want to invest in the right equipment to help reduce the amount of drywall dust released into the air. Dust-free sanders such as this popular one from WEN are a great example of tools you can start using to prevent exposure to such construction dust.
Here are some of the best dustless tools for drywall applications:
- Dust bubble drill- this drill enables you to drill without dust.
- Abranet ace HD film
- HYDE dust-free sponge sander works best on flat surfaces, including wood.
- Abranet Max Sponge is a net suited for the wood industry as it is substantially dust-free.
Apart from dust-free sanders, wet-sanding drywall sheets is another option I found to work great. It goes a long way in preventing dust from contaminating the air in the house. All you need is to add a wet-sanding attachment to your drywall sander and you’ll be able to get rid of the drywall dust easily.
Using the correct tools greatly reduces the amount of work, especially during the clean-up stage.
Is Drywall Dust Dangerous and Flammable?
When in small amounts, drywall dust is not exactly toxic to the body. This means that it will not cause long-term diseases. However, you should know that it can irritate some parts of the body, such as the throat. This is because drywall dust has a chemical compound known as gypsum.
Gypsum is non-flammable- generally, drywall dust cannot catch fire easily.
Gypsum has the same effects as chlorine in swimming pools, as they have approximately similar pH of 7.7. This is why when drywall dust comes into contact with your eyes, you may feel irritation for a short while.
If you don’t wear a mask or a respirator and are exposed to drywall dust frequently and for an extended period, you might develop long-term health problems.
Consult your doctor if you think you’re exposed to drywall dust for prolonged periods.
READ MORE: How to Clean Up Fiberglass Dust Safely
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.