When I drill into concrete, stone or similar materials - a lot of dust gets scattered. I realize this might sound like a newbie/trivial question, but - how can I avoid this? Both dust getting on me, and even more importantly - into the air people breath and onto furniture and other items?

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    If you have access to a 3d printer, I can recommend printing one of these thingies: thingiverse.com/thing:2806410 – fho Sep 24 '19 at 9:44
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    @fho: Can't I buy that from someone? – einpoklum Sep 24 '19 at 11:31
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    Actually yes. My local home improvement store (OBI in Germany) has those. But they were like 20€ compared to some cents when printing them. – fho Sep 24 '19 at 13:24
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    What about a clear plastic cup? You could trim it down to an appropriate height and drill a hole through the bottom. – Roijan says reinstate Monica Sep 24 '19 at 17:45
  • @RoijanEskor: You mean, those cups used with water dispensers? – einpoklum Sep 24 '19 at 17:47

12 Answers 12


Vacuum near the point of drilling

Have someone to stand next to you with the nozzle of a (running) vacuum cleaner, and position it very carefully near the where the drill bit enters the wall. Preferably - under the drill point facing up, so as not to "compete" with gravity. Most of the dust should be caught by the vacuum cleaner.

enter image description here

Down-sides to this solution:

  • If you're not careful, the vacuum cleaner nozzle/attachment could touch the spinning drill bit and be harmed (and these parts tend to be expensive beyond their actual production cost).
  • This still misses some dust (more if we're not careful and precise with the positioning and the angle).
  • You can't always get someone to help you with drilling.
  • Sometimes there isn't enough room for both people or for both the nozzle and the drill bit.
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    For "one-hand-able" drilling, you can hold the vacuum (shop vac preferred for less odds of damaging it, with a good filter so it does not just circulate the fine dust) yourself. Since the hole stays put, you can also arrange something to hold the vacuum nozzle there while you drill if you can't get a human helper to do that. – Ecnerwal Sep 23 '19 at 16:27
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    @Ecnerwal: I'm not that ambidextrous. Plus, I'm used to two-handed drilling, and very often/usually I need both my hands, and my legs, to lean in. – einpoklum Sep 23 '19 at 17:08
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    @einpoklum then it sounds like you have run out of hands. You are asking a lot here; you want to do this without removing room contents, without tarping/room containment, without post-work cleanup, without helpers, and without varying your technique. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 24 '19 at 17:58
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    @einpoklum I've taped a vacuum hose to tools before, and have used things like clamps/stands/tripods, etc, for this type of purpose. There are plenty of ways to do this with just a single person. – J... Sep 25 '19 at 12:25
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    If you're concerned about the end of your hose, a sacrificial nozzle can be fashioned and stuck on the end - plastic bottle, scissors and some tape will work well. Any contact will then damage the plastic bottle and not the hoze. you could do the same thing with paper too. – Baldrickk Sep 26 '19 at 16:10

Get it wet!

When drilling or cutting stone, using water to cool the bit will help cut faster and smoother and prolong the life of the bit. When drilling in the wet hole, you don't need a special drill because all of the electrics are safely away from the water. When using a saw or grinder, one made for wet cutting is recommended.

Of course, using water also means zero dust. You have some dirty water to clean up, but nothing at all goes into the air. I've cut granite countertops in place using a wet saw and plastic and had no dust in the house at all - just some dirty water splatter.

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    On a larger, more professional scale there are special drills and hollow bits that give you pressurized running water to the end of the bit and keeps the cutting area flush with cool water. – JPhi1618 Sep 23 '19 at 17:12
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    I usually cannot arrange for something like running water to come out of a hose while I drill; and in many places I drill there are water-sensitive items on the floor even if I could have water running. :-( – einpoklum Sep 23 '19 at 19:34
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    Yea, of course. A vacuum is easier and faster in a lot of cases. It's just another option for different situations. And answering your own question is a great way to share tricks that you have learned. My answer isn't meant to take anything away from yours. – JPhi1618 Sep 23 '19 at 19:37
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    Circle the hole with a ring of putty an inch radius larger than the hole in a bowl shape. Press the putty hard enough onto the stone that you are cutting that it seals the putty to the stone. Pour water into the bowl you have just created. Drill hole. Soak up water with a towel and wipe up the muddy residue. Scrape up the putty and reuse it for the next hole. – Keeta - reinstate Monica Sep 24 '19 at 12:19
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    @PaulBelanger or a water bottle with a pinhole poked in the lid. – Zymus Sep 24 '19 at 20:10

In addition to the halved tennis ball trick, when drilling walls, I usually use Post-It notes. Take one sheet, fold it horizontally away from the sticky side, then stick it to the wall just below the hole you're drilling. The fold will open up just a bit under its own weight. As you drill, the dust will accumulate in this fold - once the hole is done, simply throw the Post-It note away together with the dust - and get another one for the next hole.

Something like this:

enter image description here Image from https://lifehacker.com

Of course, this is not going to work when drilling into the ceiling.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Michael Karas Sep 26 '19 at 11:40
  • They sell a commercial version, with a hole for the drill and folds on the side. They are only slightly more expensive than postits, but I can't say if they are any better. – Davidmh Sep 30 '19 at 10:58

I am using this tool (Kärcher DDC 50). You put the drill through the hole on the right, and the battery-driven vacuum not only sucks the dust into the storage container but also sucks the entire tool onto the wall, making this a hands-free operation. Careful with wallpapers - sometimes the suction is too strong and you might see some creases afterwards.

enter image description here


As you complained about not seeing the hole before: Usually, the drill is long enough to pull the tool back until the drill is aligned. Otherwise, you might need a small pilot hole.

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  • Swiss ingenuity... awesome :-) – einpoklum Sep 24 '19 at 13:25
  • Cool, but doesn't seem to be available... – Daniel Griscom Sep 24 '19 at 14:53
  • @DanielGriscom: Apparently, you can get an attachment for regular vacuum cleaners which does about the same thing. See my new answer. – einpoklum Sep 24 '19 at 19:06

Squirt bottle

Wet the wall area just as you start, then as soon as the bit is seated, use one hand to squirt a small amount of water at the hole in frequent intervals. This will assure the stuff comes out as mud.

The point of the squirt bottle is to allow you to tightly regulate the amount of water, so you aren't adding any more water than needed to do the job.

Use a sponge and bucket of water at intervals to keep the mud contained.

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  • This seems like a simple-and-feasible, though imperfect, alternative to the wet-drilling suggestion by @JPhil1618. I can actually do this! – einpoklum Sep 24 '19 at 18:44
  • Yeah, I figured it out because that's how I normally drill things, except the squirter is full of cutting oil. It has the same effect; chips remaining at the hole in an amorphous glob instead of flying everywhere. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 24 '19 at 20:22

A combination of my "vacuum near drill point" answer and @mrks' mini-vacuum Karcher device answer: You can get a (hopefully) universal vacuum cleaner collector attachment for collecting drilling dust:

enter image description here enter image description here

and then you can use your large independent vacuum cleaner; the head should attach to the surface you're drilling into by the force of the vacuum:

enter image description here

However, with many of these attachments, you lose visibility of the drilling point. I wonder why they can't make them using clear plastic.

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    Now if there was one with clear plastic, you could see where the drill bit goes, at least for the first few seconds, which is all you need. – Tim Sep 25 '19 at 8:07
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    "However, with many of these attachments, you lose visibility of the drilling point. I wonder why they can't make them using clear plastic." Probably because you don't need to see the hole once you've positioned the bit. – TylerH Sep 25 '19 at 14:03
  • @TylerH: Unless your positioning is perfect, your hand is perfectly steady and the vector of your pressure is also perfect, then - yes, you do need to see the hole. – einpoklum Aug 13 at 15:09
  • @einpoklum When you're pressing against a solid surface like a wall, it's in fact trivial to not move your hand holding the suction device, and when your face is ~1 foot away it's not hard to make sure the hole is lined up before inserting the drill. So despite your claims of perfection being a requirement, it's not really that difficult. – TylerH Aug 13 at 15:34
  • But your drilling hand might move; and the drill may slip if the wall material is weak/tends to crumble; and I never get the angle 100% right in both axes. etc. – einpoklum Aug 13 at 15:59

Cut a tennis ball in half. Drill a hole in the center of one half, slide the half over the drill bit, line up the drill and bit to where the hole is to be. Slide the half ball up against the wall and start drilling. The half ball will catch the dust and keep it from getting into the air...

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    The ball is opaque - I will not see where I'm drilling. – einpoklum Sep 23 '19 at 19:34
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    Line up the drill bit to where you want the hole. After starting the hole, push the ball up to the surface and continue drilling. – JACK Sep 23 '19 at 19:41
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    That's not good enough. I need my eyes on hole, to see what's coming out, how I'm going in etc. You're asking me to drill blindfolded. However - if I could get a plastic ball of appropriate size... – einpoklum Sep 23 '19 at 21:17
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    Yes, a clear ball or clear plastic glass or container would work. – JACK Sep 23 '19 at 21:31

I saw a similar question asked somewhere (possibly here, though I'm not about to be that "marked as duplicate" guy), and I suggested the post-it method already mentioned. Someone else then commented that he worked in a clean-room environment where atmospheric dust was a problem, and they used shaving foam(!): Position the drill, spray some shaving foam on/around the drill tip, and go.

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I use a variety of methods (included in other answers) depending on the situation, but in most for about the past year I have been happy with the Milwaukee M12 HAMMERVAC.

Milwaukee M12 HAMMERVAC

No additional cords or hoses, the depth stop is useful, good battery life and fits my tools from multiple brands (it comes with three different sized collars, but your mileage may vary).

Main drawbacks are that it does add to the size and weight of the tool.

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  • It says it's compatible with hammer drills; what about "regular" drills (e.g. like this one)? – einpoklum Sep 25 '19 at 7:01
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    @einpoklum, that isn't a "regular" drill as it is an impact tool, but this solution works with many impact/hammerdrill/rotary hammers from many vendors. As it is shown with what appears to be a removable handle and is a major brand, one of the three collars provided with the HAMMERVAC would most likely work. I can't say specifically if it will as I do not have one of that type to test. – YLearn Sep 25 '19 at 21:09
  • I thought impact drills were the regular kind, but ok. – einpoklum Sep 26 '19 at 6:07
  • @einpoklum - Just out of curiosity, what has your primary experience with drilling been in? It sounds like you've either done some professional construction or a fair amount of heavy-duty work, since you find impact drills to be the 'regular' kind. Just from my personal experience, most lay-people find a 'regular' drill to be a powered tool that spins a bit to make a hole. Usually an impact isn't needed unless it's for masonry or some other hard material. – ConcernedHobbit Sep 26 '19 at 16:06
  • @ConcernedHobbit, possibly they don't know the difference between an impact drill and a regular drill. – YLearn Sep 27 '19 at 3:04

Just buy an appropriately-formed plastic device to put around the head of your drill.

A search on AliExpress yields a few promising candidates:

enter image description here


enter image description here

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    Based on your own comment above - you can’t see the hole you are drilling... – Solar Mike Sep 23 '19 at 22:37
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    With the clear one below, you sorta-kinda can; with the top one - you can for sure, but the dust protection is imperfect. The top one is poor for drilling into the ceiling. – einpoklum Sep 23 '19 at 22:54

I use a small box that's taped to the wall just below the hole. (it's a mini milk box, about 1" by 8" by 6". The 1" gap for the dust to fall into catches pretty much all of it and the fact it's a box means you can drill more than one hole before it needs emptying. (just make sure the tape retains it's sticky each time you move it or it'll fall down, emptying dust everywhere!) I've sealed up the bottom of it with tape so nothing leaks out. Also, conveniently, the box of wall plugs I have sits neatly inside this cardboard one so it doesn't get squashed when put away.

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. (Adding a picture of this in action would be wonderful.) And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Sep 26 '19 at 16:38
  • Very similar to this answer with the folded post-it not. And - same criticism; it doesn't trap dust scattering into the air. – einpoklum Sep 26 '19 at 20:06

There are also single-use products like the DustBubble. I used something like this a few years ago when drilling holes into walls in my home, and it worked pretty well.

how to use


  • Easy for one person to use
  • You can (pretty much) still see where you're drilling
  • No need to get your vacuum cleaner out


  • Single use, so not environmentally ideal
  • Single use, so you need to buy more when you run out of them
  • Dust collection wasn't quite 100% (in my experience at least)
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  • While not environmentally friendly, it's still just a relatively small piece of plastic. Like drinking from a disposable cup (maybe even less). So, +1. However - many many countries don't have it; and shipping it internationally makes it prohibitively expensive... – einpoklum Sep 27 '19 at 5:35

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