Dry Wall Dust and Other Fun Construction Clean Up

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This reader question came in via email titled: A kitchen cave-in.

Dear Home-Ec 101
Yep. That’s right. Lost the ceiling in my kitchen – drop ceiling, light fixture, older (plaster?) ceiling above it, and about 18 inches of blown insulation. I am in the process of getting it fixed. I have shoveled and scooped more insulation than I thought existed in the world!

Anyway, now that the drywall is up for the ceiling (it still needs to be painted), I have to clean EVERYTHING, including the surrounding rooms.
Any ideas?
I have linoleum squares in the kitchen and carpeting in the other rooms.
Kind regards,
The Mess, OMG The Mess (And the Dust did I mention the Dust)

Save your vacuum! Do not just suck up dry wall dust after construction. Here's how to handle the dusty mess without ruining your expensive HEPA vacuum.

Heather says:

Let’s just start with the conciliatory message. I’m so sorry, I’m also so very glad that it isn’t me dealing with this. Don’t worry, there’s a TL/DR summary at the end for some of you. You know who you are.

Now, let’s get started on how to tackle the mess that I’m sure is a giant pain in the rear.

Get thee to a hardware store, equipment rental supply store, or maybe even your friend’s basement or garage, pronto. Why? Because you do not want to use a nice vacuum, even or especially rather, with a HEPA filter to clean up the amount of dust you’re about to encounter.

If you are going to spread the clean-up over several days AND have plenty of storage area, go ahead and buy yourself a decent shop vac, it’ll work out to about the same cost. If, however, you have a smaller home and/or live in an apartment and just don’t have the storage, it is possible to rent one.

Whichever route you choose, be sure to get a fine dust bag for the shop vac. This will prevent the dust from blowing right back into the air, where you’ll just have to re-vacuum and then it’ll blow back in the air and . . . (You get where I’m going, right?)

If you have a box fan or window fan go and and set it IN the window of the room, set it to high, and set it to draw the air from the room and blow it out of the room. The goal here, is to get as much airborne dust out of the living space as possible.

After the first round of  vacuuming, get a clean, or better yet new broom -a whisk broom or foxtail would be perfect and whisk down the walls and baseboards. You might as well do the ceiling fan, if there is one, while you’re at it. While you’re in your bedroom, I would place the pillows UNDER the top blanket or add another sheet over the whole bed to keep all of this mess from settling into your bedding. Dry wall dust and insulation in your pillow would, let’s just say, would not be fun. Don’t forget to shower and wash your hair before getting into bed after this job. This mess is tenacious to say the least. (A hat or do-rag (doo-rag? I’m not sure of the spelling, I’ve only ever said it aloud) wouldn’t be a bad idea, either)

Vacuum the carpeting several times. I’m sorry but it’s just not going to be a one and done job. And when I say vacuum, I mean slowly and thoroughly.

Vacuum the linoleum. Twice.

Once you’re done vacuuming, wipe the baseboards and all ledges with damp cloth to pick up the last of the settled dust. Wipe down your counters and the stove hood, the stove, etc. Then damp mop the tiles.

And finally, when you’re through for the day, change the air filter for your HVAC.

You’ve done it

Here’s the short version of how to clean up dry wall dust:

  1. Set a fan in the window to blow dust out-of-doors
  2. Vacuum everything with a shop vac that has a fine dust bag in the collector.
  3. Sweep / whisk down the walls and ledges
  4. Vacuum again
  5. Maybe one more time just for good measure
  6. Wipe everything with a barely damp cloth that gets rinsed and wrung often.
  7. Damp mop the tile
  8. Change the AC filter
  9. Enjoy a beverage of your choice and use the social platform of your choice to brag on how accomplished / exhausted you feel.
house cleaning help
Click the picture for more cleaning help!

There you go. I don’t envy your job, but at least you got a refreshed kitchen out of the deal? Yeah, I know, that’s not really the bargain it sounds. . .Hang in there and thank you for writing in.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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8 thoughts on “Dry Wall Dust and Other Fun Construction Clean Up”

  1. Some shop vacs you can get now let you attach the hose to the exhaust port and use it as a blower. In this case that’s probably not something you want to do so watch what port you attach the hose to.

  2. It’s me again. The original poster. I might just be taking a week’s vacation to clean, then a week of real vacation to recover. Everything in my kitchen and dining room NOT in a cabinet is now in my living room. I have been living out of my bedroom for weeks.

    Today, the final painting is being done. Then the only part of this job left is reinstalling the insulation. In short, I didn’t know there was this much dust in the world. I am NOT a clean freak, but this has me running in terror. It;s also amazing how insulation and dirt got into my CLOSED refrigerator and cabinets. Everything will have to be taken out and washed, and the cabinets wiped out. Figure I will do one cabinet at a time, on a short cycle in the dishwasher, and wash the cabinet out while the dishes are running. Might get one or two cabinets a night done this way.

    Any hope of containing the dust to the kitchen failed. I just have to deal with it now. On the plus side, I hired an out-of-work maintenance guy friend of mine to do the work. It has been a bit of an ambitious job for him, but I know he needs the money so that makes me feel better. The negative is that it has taken all this time to get the work done, a little at a time.

    Hopefully, I will retain my sanity.

    P.S. I had already gotten the shop vac 🙂


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