Should You Dust Or Vacuum First When Cleaning?

With a deep cleaning job at hand, you’ll want to get rid of the dust on your floors and furniture by wiping it off or using a vacuum cleaner. Both will lead to clean surfaces, but knowing whether to dust or vacuum first can make a big difference in the outcome. So, which one should come first and why?

The rule of thumb is that you should dust first before vacuuming surfaces in the room. Dusting kicks up dust particles into the air but your vacuum will pick them up after they settle onto the floor and furniture. Clean starting from the inside of every room and work your way out of it.

Is it better to dust first or vacuum first?

It is better to dust your rooms before vacuuming them because the dusting process disturbs the particles and makes them float in the air before settling on the floor. Vacuuming as the last step is therefore a better way to clean up all the remaining dust particles from your floors and surfaces.

To reduce the amount of dust that escapes during the dusting process, I recommend using a high-quality microfiber duster such as the Swiffer Heavy Duty Dusters or any good microfiber dusting kit to minimize the amount of dust that’ll be kicked up into the air.

Dust first before vacuuming

Since it is true that starting off by dusting will leave some airborne particles that your vacuum will easily pick up, you want to make sure you have the right vacuum or shop vac for removing that dust.

Does vacuuming kick up dust?

Some vacuum cleaners with standard paper bag filters kick up dust and allow it to escape back into the room, causing further contamination. If your vacuum is stirring up dust, replace it with a HEPA vacuum cleaner that’s tightly sealed to prevent dust and other allergens from escaping into the air.

I use and recommend the highly efficient Shark NV501 Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright Vacuum with HEPA Filter if you’re looking to get rid of dust and other types of allergens in your house without kicking them up in the air. It works well for removing pet hair and dander and has great accessories for dusting delicate areas like lampshades, windows, and ceiling fans.

The cleaning process

The cleaning process will only be good if you follow the right procedure and use the right tools. Dusting and vacuuming should be followed by mopping and wiping of surfaces.

But, what exactly do dusting and vacuuming entail?


Dusting is the process of removing dust from a surface or area by brushing or wiping it using a duster or piece of cloth. In this process, dust particles stick onto the surface of the cloth/duster, and that is how they are removed from a surface.

You want to dust using the right tools for the best results. For example, dusting lampshades may require a different type of duster than when you need to get rid of dust from your bedroom floors, which you can use a dust mop to accomplish.

Here are some great tips for dusting effectively:

  • Use a damp rag: A damp rag traps more dust than a dry rag because of the cohesion between dust and water to form lumps of mud-like stains. I recommend using one if you do not have a microfiber cloth at hand.
  • Use microfibers: The pores of a microfiber material are as minute as a dust particle’s circumference. Therefore, using such a duster/cloth makes the entire dusting process more effective.
  • Dust starting items higher up the room: When dusting, it is best if you start by dusting the items at the highest point, case in mind is light lamps, fans, ceilings, among others, to prevent doing double work.


Vacuuming is the process of cleaning surfaces using an electronically powered suction machine known as a vacuum cleaner. Unlike in dusting where dust is trapped on a duster’s surface, during vacuuming, dust is trapped in a dust bag inside the machine.

So, what should you do first (and why)?

I recommend that you dust first before vacuuming. When you dust first, you will find that some dust particles are wiped away onto the cloth/duster, but you will never get all of them.

Instead, many of the particles will be dispersed in the air and then settle back down on various surfaces like floors, beds, or even couches. Now that is why you need to vacuum after dusting because vacuuming will clear all of the remaining dust particles.

Here are some great tips for vacuuming with success:

  • Make several passes: Thoroughness is needed when vacuuming. Going over the vacuumed region repeatedly will ensure that as much dust is sucked in as possible.
  • Empty the dust bag: Before endeavoring to vacuum, you must ensure that the dust bag or the canister is empty so that there is ample room for dust to be evacuated in.
  • Pick up small objects from the floor: If there are small objects on the floor that are not glued or attached to the floor, it is recommended to remove them to ease the activity and prevent mechanical damage.

How long does it take for dust to settle after vacuuming?

If in the process of vacuuming and dusting you stir up dust particles, you might experience increased allergies for some time before everything settles down again.

But how long will it take for the dust to settle down?

It can take up to 2 hours after dusting and vacuuming for the dust to settle down. Reduce movements in the house and use an air purifier that removes dust to help clean up the air and make the house usable again.

The rule of thumb is to run an air purifier for as long as you can, but try to keep it on for at least 12 hours before using the room if you had cleaned and left the room contaminated with kicked-up dust, mold, and pollen particles.

Dusting Furniture

Should you dust before or after vacuuming furniture? For couches, coffee tables, cabinets, and stools, you want to dust them gently using a microfiber dusting cloth before vacuuming them using an upholstery extension for your vacuum cleaner.

  • Dust gently using a microfiber cloth to prevent leaving streaks likes on your furniture – both glass and wooden ones.
  • Use the appropriate extension to vacuum and remove dust from couches, whether leather or fabric.

After removing all the dust using a microfiber cloth, you won’t need to use any extra cleaning detergent for wooden furniture to eliminate all the dust. However, depending on the type of furniture, you might want to vacuum the surface to get rid of any dust that settles back down.

Pro-tipMove furniture around when dusting and vacuuming to get to hard-to-reach areas. Ensure you focus on these regions as much as possible.

Apart from the above tips, you want to make sure you place a mat at every exit and entry to prevent making the area dirty again, especially if it is a busy area. If it is not a busy place, lock the doors and display cleaning signage.

Go over the dusted areas repeatedly systematically to ensure that as much dust as possible has been gathered. Also, change the cleaning water as frequently as possible.

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