Hanging and finishing drywall is a grueling task, and then cleaning?
What is the best way to clean up all that drywall dust?
After all that work, you want an effective way to get your room and walls ready for priming and painting.
There are some precautions you should always take when working with drywall and drywall dust, and some shortcuts to make cleanup a little less work.
It’s not instant, but you can get it done with simple tools you already have around the house or workshop.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Up Drywall Dust?
There are extras you can buy to help with major clean-up, but the basic steps are to sweep, vacuum, and wipe down surfaces…and wipe again. Before you begin, you will want to put on a mask that covers your nose and mouth and eye protection. Drywall dust is not toxic but can irritate eyes and lungs.
To make drywall cleanup easier, plan ahead.
It’s best to cover floors and furniture, and just carefully roll up, and dispose of the majority of the dust.
Secure heavy tarps and plastic sheeting with tape.
You should also cover any air vents and ducts in the room to prevent drywall dust from moving into other spaces.
If you have them, leave box fans running facing outside, to blow out dust while you work.
Take as much furniture and fixtures out of the room before you begin work on drywall, (if it’s a remodel) and If you’re only working on one room, seal up as many exits as can to keep drywall dust from floating or being tracked to other rooms.
Clean as you go. It’s not a waste of time – all that dust from sanding is going to have to be swept up eventually. Getting rid of large piles as you go will save you time in the end.
If you’ve got tarp down – scoop the dust up into that and throw it away or empty it into the trash, if not you will want to begin by sweeping (gently) the majority of the dust into piles and disposing of those.
After each step, it’s a good idea to wait a few hours – drywall dust is very powdery and will float around in the air for a long time.
You might have to sweep piles more than once. Depending on how clean you kept the room while you were working. If the dust on the floor has become minimal, you can go in with a wet/dry vac and cover the entire floor including using a vacuum attachment for edges and corners.
Don’t use a regular vacuum cleaner for drywall dust – it will quickly clog or overheat.
Next, wipe everything down. Get a lightly damp cloth and start wiping your walls from top to bottom. Your water and cloth will get dirty – keep rinsing it out and changing cloth.
You’ll need to wipe down everything that’s been exposed to the dust: baseboards, molding, ceiling fans -everything. It might take a couple of passes to get all the dust.
There are a few products that might help speed your clean up.
Some you might have, others are specialty tools.
Though you can use a good old broom and damp cloth if you’ve got the time when it comes to whole houses it might be worth it to invest in a few tools of the trade.
A ShopVac or Wet/Dry vacuum as mentioned above isn’t necessary, but will really help get the last of the dust off the floor.
You still should not vacuum up large piles of dust – this will ruin your ShopVac as well as a standard vacuum. Use it after you’ve swept most of the dust off the floor.
You should get, if possible, two HEPA filters for the fine dust particles.
This will keep the exhaust from spewing drywall particles back out into the air, and having an extra on hand means you won’t get stalled having to go out and find another when the first get bogged down.
Shop-Vac Collection Bag
This is a disposable bag that is made to line a Shop-Vac and keep the inside drum clean.
Make sure you buy the correct size for your vacuum. When you’re done simply fold it up and dispose of it. If you don’t use a special bag, yo
Something you might not just have sitting around your home, but it’s a helpful addition to your drywall dust cleaning kit. Put box fans facing out of the room, and keep them running while you are cleaning and waiting for the dust to settle.
Drywall dust is very fine, and you will have a lot floating through the air – the box fans will clear some of it out without having to wait for it all to settle.
Sweeping compound is available commercially to help clean up fine dust. It’s usually oil-based and weighs the particles down so drywall dust is easier to clean up.
It could mean less sweeping for you, but most brands say to wait 24 hours after you apply it.
It’s also recommended that you DO NOT use a vacuum for the heavy dust-compound mixture- it will easily burn up your vacuum’s motor.
You can find sweeping compound for around
With good planning and preparation, cleaning up drywall dust shouldn’t be too bad. Keep your floors and furniture covered, turn off central heat and air, and seal up as many exits as possible.
Stay safe, and always wear a dust mask and eye protection, even when you’re disposing of the dust to prevent inhalation and eye irritation. Don’t burn out your regular vacuum trying to make drywall dust clean up easier, just be patient and sweep and wipe…and probably sweep and wipe again.
Remember, if a drywall clean up “hack” seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of home-made gadgets or shortcuts you read about online.
Contractors and DIY-ers have been cleaning up drywall dust for a long time- they know what they’re talking about. Happy cleaning.