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My garage is mainly used for storage and, over many years, has become full of dust, cob webs, etc. I would like to use an area for exercise, but am concerned about the amount of dust in the garage (being breathed in).

I don't think using a vacuum cleaner is wise, since the garage is full of loose nuts and bolts and the floor is unsmoothed concrete. I began to use a brush to clean the walls and roof structs, but figured it would take too long as a lot of the dust falls on other items in the garage (and it's difficult to get to the top of the roof).

So my question is, what is the best way to remove as much dust as possible, given that I cannot use a vacuum cleaner and cannot remove anything currently stored.

  • Your best option is to leave it. Dust will stay put if you don't disturb it. Clean out a spot for your exercise and leave the rest. – diceless Aug 1 '14 at 15:53
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Buy/rent a shop vac. Start from the ceiling and work your way to the floor. Repeat the process as may times as you need until you are satisfied with the results (allow time between repeats so that disturbed dust is allowed to settle).

Once done, sift through the contents of the shop vac's collection canister and remove any thing you want to keep.

If you're concerned about breathing in the dust while cleaning, get a good respirator/dust mask and use it while vacuuming.

  • If getting a shop vac, make sure to use bags, and not the filter that comes with it. It will clog very fast, and will lose suction. – Edwin Jul 31 '14 at 21:59
  • I always use the filters and have never thought much of it. Periodically I'll clean the filter by putting it in a garbage bag and banging it on the ground to release debris. I replace the filter once a year or so on general principal, although I can't say I've ever noticed much of a difference in suction. – Hank Aug 1 '14 at 3:21
  • Before doing the first wave of vacuuming, you may want to open the door and put the hose on the motor output so it's blowing instead of sucking and blow the first layer out the door. While you're at it, you should buy/rent a decent fan to exhaust air as you work. That way you know you're not cross contaminating the house. – Joseph Lennox Aug 12 '14 at 22:20
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It sorta sounds like you want it clean without cleaning. You're not going to be able to solve a problem with dust without getting everything out of there, at least temporarily, and cleaning it top to bottom. Sweep, vacuum then hose it out.

  • Well, this would be the most difficult option. I don't think I could use the vacuum as I don't want to damage it with loose items, concrete dusts, etc. And I don't really want to use water as there is electricity running to the garage. – Brendon Jul 31 '14 at 20:42
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    Loose items, concrete dust, etc ... is exactly what shop vacuums are designed to handle. Use the right tool for the task. A small shop vac is moderately cheap; an excessively large one is often not that much more expensive. – keshlam Aug 1 '14 at 0:12
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If you can remove the dust out of the garage and not really care where it ends up a good solution is to use a leaf blower. I do this in my wood shop from time to time to get rid of sawdust that has accumulated in hard to reach places.

Also, anything heavy generally won't get blown around too much if you don't focus the air stream on the item.

  • I used a leaf blower in a garage exactly once, and it raised such a dense cloud of dust that it just made everything else in there filthier when it settled. I also wouldn't recommend doing this without a good respirator. – Comintern Jul 31 '14 at 22:41
  • I would use a respirator. If you had more dustr than when you finished you did it wrong. You can't just stir it up you've got to work the dust out the door. – pri0ritize Jul 31 '14 at 23:01
  • OP was particular that they don't want the dust to settle everywhere; I would think a leaf blower literally blows that requirement out of the garage. – alt Aug 1 '14 at 1:55
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1) Gather the small parts, then vacuum. Sweeping with a magnet may be worth considering. Since you're going to vacuum later, you don't have to be precise about this; you just want to get anything that will damage the vacuum or that you will really mind losing.

2) Or use a shop vac and resign yourself to losing those small parts. If you really cared about them you'd have picked them up when you dropped them. If they're still on the floor, they're trash; admit it to yourself and just get the job done. (In case it isn't obvious, this is the one I would recommend. Among other things, a shop vac is a good investment if you have a garage or workshop or other places which generate the sort of larger/sharper trash you wouldn't want to risk your household vac on... and they can be used to gather sawdust directly from many small tools.)

3) Or go overboard and rig some sort of separator in the shop vac's input to try to automatically rescue solid objects out of the dirt. Centrifugal, deflection screen, whatever's within your abilities to build. This will almost certainly be more trouble than it's worth right now, but if you expect to continue dropping stuff on the floor and then ignoring it until dust has piled up, it might be a worthwhile investment. Though it would probably cost you more (in both parts and effort) than it could possibly rescue.

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Cat litter! Believe it or not it works! A mechanic friend of mine told me this years ago and I've been using this little trick ever since...much more economical than purchasing a 50lb bag of sweeping compound and it's also great at "gathering & holding" the very fine dust of the garage floor...good luck!

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Your local home improvement store should carry a product known as "sweeping compound". This is a sand-like product you apply over your entire floor. It helps keep the dust down while sweeping. Sometimes it is scented or coloured.

Get yourself a good quality, large push broom and dust pan and sweep up all the compound and dirt. You might need a few goes at it to get all of the debris swept up.

Bag of compound
(source: homedepot.com)

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