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Builder’s cleaning – The seven secret steps to success

Michael Sweet | 1800 CLEANER

As a cleaning company working on some of Sydney’s most expensive real estate, we never get used to seeing these prestigious multi-million-dollar properties handed over to their owners full of hidden dust post “builder’s clean”. On day one, the place may well look good after having a surface, builder’s clean. Yet, when the family moves in, and all that hidden dust “leaks out,” we find that it hangs around seemingly forever. Literally.

With human beings, out of sight is generally out of mind. This is particularly true of fine particle dust. Dust is so tiny that the human eye cannot detect it under normal conditions. We’re talking nanoparticles here that can be seen en-masse when they resettle and gather on open surfaces. Or when they drift past a shaft of sunlight, and we see them twinkling temporarily before “disappearing” into the darkness.

“Where does all this dust come from?”

When we clean, we disturb these fine dust particles and send them airborne. Once airborne, they can stay suspended for up to five days. Then they again return to earth to be bothered and recirculated all over again the next time we clean. Even a gust of wind from an open window or opening of a door disturbs them. It feels like we are constantly cleaning. Many people ascribe the dust as new dust coming from outside their home environment every week. We estimate that up to 95% of the dust found in the home is the same old dust being recirculated. In our view, only 5% or so is new dust either coming in from outside or being created by the residents and their pets.

With a new build, an excessive amount of excessively fine dust is created by the building process itself. The sanding and joinery, painting, formwork, concreting and cutting contribute to the creation of an immense amount of immensely small particle dust. Unfortunately, many construction workers are unaware of the dangers they face in their workplaces regarding dust, specially silicosis dust. Those who develop symptoms may receive financial compensation from a silicosis lawsuit.

This microscopic dust is notoriously tricky to remove as it floats around with traditional cleaning methods. It will “leak out” for years to come, frustrating future cleaning efforts as a result. So getting the builder’s clean right is a must.


An excessive amount of excessively fine dust is created by the building process itself

The seven secrets to evicting fine particle dust – post builder’s clean.

  • Step One– The first thing to do is understand how this dust behaves and therefore seal off the whole area. No open windows or doors; close everything off so the dust can settle. No through traffic. Give the dust time to settle before step two. This could take days unless you have specialised equipment.
  • Step Two– Now you have control over the environment and have given the dust a chance to settle. So now you need to collect as much dust as possible on this first pass. If you don’t, you’ll need patience as dust disturbed actually floats around for up to 5 days. Get a moist microfibre cloth, wipe down every available surface in the place, and rinse and repeat.
  • Step Three– Make sure your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter to capture particles down to 30 microns in size at least. A cheaper vacuum without the HEPA filter will fully redistribute the fine dust into the air with static electricity. It floats again for up to five days, requiring further patience!

Pay attention to detail on that first clean and aim to get rid of the dust you cannot see with these special methods.

  • Step Four– Now that the pre-cleaning is complete, we might have captured the bulk of the dust, so the real fun begins. Presuming that you have done a great job getting at all the accumulated dust you can see, now we target the hidden dust you can’t see. We now bring wind flow into the equation. Get a nice flexible feather duster. Again, with the house sealed off, go crazy dusting everything with a wild swinging action. Especially get into the hidden corners like the top edges of cupboards and kitchen joinery. This will allow wind flow to get into the nooks and crannies and release the bulk of hidden dust lying dormant there.
  • Step Five– With the entire house sealed off and the whole place now thoroughly dusted, again give the dust time to resettle. If you have an ioniser, this should take around 4 hours or so. Without one, it can take a few days. Running HEPA-grade antibacterial air filters as well is optimal for a successful post-builder’s clean.
  • Step Six– Use a microfibre cloth to wipe every surface throughout the place you can and rotate these frequently. Microfibre cloths use static electricity actually to attract and capture fine particle dust. Once captured, replace these often as an abundance of dust in one cloth will again make its way back into the environment.
  • Step Seven– By this stage, all the remaining dust should be on the ground. Give it after another vacuum with your HEPA-grade Vacuum cleaner. Then you need to mop, and the best way is with a flat microfibre mop head. Keep changing the water and re-mopping until you see that the water stays clean. This means most of the dust is out of your environment and out of your future life as well! Awesome. Well done.

Now for healthier living and how to live dust-free

Let’s recap. The importance of minimising the large quantity of dust particles in our homes after a construction or renovation is vital. Out of sight is not out of the body. A surface clean might look nice on day one, but we will be dealing with that hidden dust for a long time if we don’t accept the reality of how hidden dust behaves and how to get rid of it.

For more information about this phenomenon, click here 

The truth is that if we don’t get rid of all that hidden dust in your home on the first attempt, it will leak out into our clothes and into our lungs, and we will breathe it in over a long period of time without even knowing why we are feeling sub-optimal. It affects our sleep and well-being, and the importance of making the indoors environment pristine and dust-free is incalculable from a human perspective.

The great news is that even though this problem is confounding and challenging, science has provided a simple solution, and with care and effort, you can live dust-free and enjoy your home and life in unison as you so deserve.


Michael Sweet, founder of 1800 CLEANER |

For more on our special builder’s clean approach please enquire here.

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