How Do You Get Rid of Fiberglass Dust in the House?

Fiberglass dust can be problematic to clean up because you can’t just use your regular vacuum to suck it out. The size of a fiberglass dust particle ranges from 1-1000 microns, meaning you cannot see it with your naked eye – whether in clothes, mattresses or in the air. So, how do you clean up fiberglass dust effectively?

Wear protective clothing then clear the house of any important items such as furniture. Vacuum the dust away using a HEPA vacuum cleaner to clean up all the fiberglass dust then mop and wipe clean all surfaces with a damp cloth. Ventilate the house to remove the harmful dust before moving back in.

Do not sweep the house to prevent stirring the harmful dust and contaminating the air in your home.

Fiberglass dust is a collection of waste produced when fiberglass is trimmed, chopped, or sawed. The dust is invisible to the naked eye and can penetrate the skin, eyes, and airways, causing serious irritation.

If you suspect there’s fiberglass dust in your house (or regularly work in such an environment), you might want to buy a HEPA or ULPA vacuum cleaner to clean up this dust from your house. I recommend and use the Atrix Omega ULPA Vacuum Abatement Vac.

What does fiberglass dust look like?

What Does Fiberglass Dust Look Like?

Even though it is difficult to detect, experts say that fiberglass dust is white and has a fluffy-like look. In some cases, it has a slight shine, especially when it is subjected to bright light. Do not expect to see it as you would soot or black and brown dust particles.

Does fiberglass dust look like glitter? Typically, the particles are so small you’ll not be able to see them with your naked eye. However, when they are big enough, they glitter in the air looking like the color of the original fiberglass – usually pink, yellow, or orange.

Fiberglass is a flexible and cheap material. Because of this, it is found in various household products. Some of the places in your house where you can fiberglass dust include windows, door jambs, bathtubs, carpets, bedding, and curtains.

How to clean up fiberglass dust

How to get rid of fiberglass dust

Fiberglass particles can be difficult to clean up completely depending on the source. If you’re not sure you can completely eliminate the dust yourself, contact a professional cleaning service that deals mainly with fiberglass dust removal and has the right tools to clean it and make your home safe again.

You can also clean up and get rid of fiberglass yourself. Here’s how:

1. Wear protective clothing

Wear goggles and a dust mask, a respirator, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, and durable shoes to make sure you protect your skin and eyes from fiberglass dust irritation.

It is recommended that you wear a hat as well to prevent dust from entering your hair and irritating your scalp.

2. Locate the source of fiberglass dust

In the house setting, the fiberglass dust is most likely to originate from the air duct system or the insulation systems. You will be forced to replace the entire system if the dust is coming from the air duct system, as it will be impossible to get rid of all the fiberglass dust there.

3. Move everything out of the house

Take everything out of the house so that you have an easy time when cleaning. You’ll need to organize some storage for all your household items while you’re cleaning up the fiberglass dust.

This will create enough space for thorough cleaning; you’ll be doing a lot of vacuuming and this needs to be done thoroughly.

4. Throw away items that cannot be cleaned

If fiberglass dust has contaminated some items that you cannot clean yet contain the dust, throw them away to prevent re-introducing the harmful fibers in your house once you’re done cleaning.

Some of the things that you’ll be forced to throw away may include bedding, carpets, or even furniture.

This is one of the reasons why getting rid of fiberglass is costly. You will be forced to purchase new items that are not contaminated with fiberglass dust.

Pro tip: Make sure you seal those items you’re throwing away with a plastic bag to avoid further contamination.

5. Vacuum the house with a HEPA vacuum cleaner

This process must be done thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner with a filter that will capture the fiberglass dust. I recommend using a good HEPA or ULPA filter vacuum for dust such as the Atrix brand.

Concentrate mainly on the areas where the dust accumulates, such as the door jambs and windows. Repeat this step severally for the best results.

Pro tip: Do not use regular vacuums because they will blow up the dust particles and spread them all over the house, making it even more unsafe for habitation.

6. Clean the house and other items

The next step is to clean the house to make sure you remove any remnants of harmful fiber dust. Mop the floors and detail any surfaces where fiberglass dust can settle.

Clean any items that will be moved back into the house. You should wash the ceilings, walls, and tables thoroughly with soap and water. The items that you will move back into the house should also be cleaned.

Pro tip: Do not sweep the floors and other surfaces because this can stir up the fiberglass dust and contaminate the air in the house.

7. Furnish the house afresh

If there are some items you got rid of during the remediation process, it is time to replace them with new ones that are not contaminated with fiberglass insulation dust. Buy items that have the least toxic components. Be very careful not to purchase things like plywood and other synthetic products. Purchase and use natural fiber products if you can.

8. Ventilate your house adequately

The last step to completely get rid of fiberglass dust before settling back into the house is to ventilate the house adequately. You can do this the old-fashioned way by just opening the windows to allow fresh air in.

It is recommended that you run a good air purifier that helps with dust in the house to remove any toxins that may remain in the house during the fiberglass dust clean-up process.

How to get fiberglass out of clothes

Clothes contaminated with fiberglass dust are best thrown away to reduce the risk of irritation. However, if the contamination is not severe, you can clean and remove the fiber from the clothes.

Here’s how:

  1. Dry-brush the clothes using a soft brush to remove the fine dust particles.
  2. Wash the clothes in a washing machine on a warm-water and soap setting.
  3. Machine-dry the clothes.
  4. Repeat the wash cycle 3-4 times to eliminate fiberglass dust.

Caution: Wear protective clothing (PPE) before washing clothes contaminated with fiberglass dust to prevent poisoning. These include gloves, dust masks, and even goggles.

Even after washing clothes and cleaning your house, the only way to be sure there isn’t any dust left behind is to test for it. I’ve elaborated on different ways to test for fiberglass dust below.

Can you use a vacuum to get rid of fiberglass dust?

Your regular vacuum cleaner unit is not capable of cleaning fiberglass dust in the house. Instead, it will blow the harmful dust around further contaminating the air and surfaces in your house. To clean up fiberglass dust, use only vacuum cleaners with HEPA or ULPA filters as these can remove the tiny particles and fibers completely.

How can you test for fiberglass dust in the air?

As earlier stated, seeing airborne fiberglass dust with the naked eye is close to impossible. That is why testing for fiberglass dust is usually recommended.

There are different ways to test your building or building area for fiberglass dust exposure, some of them are:

Using a fiberglass dust test kit

These kits can be purchased online and are quite affordable. There would be instructions on how to sample the air you want to test on the package.

After sampling, you would be required to send the sample to a lab. You will then receive results within 7 to 10 days. These types of kits are suitable for use by architects, homeowners, plant operators, government officials, etc.

Phase-contrast microscopy (PCM)

This is the primary method for testing fiberglass dust. PCM testing is a test that counts the fibers in the dust and compares them to 0.01 per cubic centimeter. The main disadvantage of this method is that it cannot test these fibers directly and take into account all fibers present.

Symptoms of fiberglass dust contamination/inhalation

Health effects may vary from one person to another depending on the size of fibers (fiberglass dust) and also the type of exposure. There is evidence to prove that bigger fibers (fiberglass dust) cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.

Little is known about the health effects of small-sized fibers (fiberglass dust), but we know for a fact that smaller fibers (fiberglass dust) can reach the lower parts of the respiratory system, which may result in adverse health effects.

Until now, there is no evidence to prove that fiberglass dust causes cancer of any kind.

Symptoms of fiberglass dust contamination include the following:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Dry skin
  • Sneezing
  • Pressure in eyes
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Irritated eyes
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Heavy feeling in lungs

Most people do not realize that they have been exposed to fiberglass dust until after a long period, and some even find out only after they have left the place of exposure.

What should I do if exposed to fiberglass dust?

It is recommended that after exposure, you should take a shower and change your clothes and get as far away from the contaminated area as possible.

References + Resources

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