I recently had the owner of a janitorial company contact me seeking advice on the removal of dust from on top of some large beams that criss-crossed the ceiling on the first floor of an office building. The client was particularly eager to get rid of the dust because it was thick and very noticeable, especially when looking out from a second floor loft. My colleague did not want to disturb the dust primarily because there were work cubicles below that had cluttered desktops which could not be touched. The problem was how to remove this thick layer of dust without circulating it back into the air and down upon the work spaces below?
Dust is a conglomerate of very tiny particles that is human (skin cells, hair), atmospheric (meteorite particles) , environmental (sand, dirt, plant pollen, engine exhaust, paper and textile fibers) and animal based (dust mites and their feces). These particles remain airborne until they settle on a solid surface where they will remain until they are agitated sufficiently and redistributed into the air or removed through cleaning. Humans have varying degrees of sensitivity to dust and it is always best to capture the particles and completely remove them from the environment.
For obvious reasons, the most traditional way of removing dust (feather duster) was out of the question. My colleague’s initial suggestion was to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and bag. While this sounded promising there was the logistical problem of reaching the dust with the vacuum and then the likelihood of some redistribution, as well as the fact that a thin layer would remain on the surface. I suggested to him that what was needed to remove thousands of tiny particles was thousands of fibers that could reach out and grab them, almost magnetically. He laughed and asked me if I had invented some sort of dust robot that I was looking to turn loose.
Actually, the cleaning science that I was referring to is microfiber clothes. I explained that these wonderful masses of fibers that are a 100 times smaller than a human hair would be the most effective way to remove the dust. The fibers would attach themselves to virtually every particle of dust and lift them off the surface. I suggested that he get a package of high quality clothes, dampen them with water and wipe the surface, disposing of the cloths in a bucket once they became saturated. The result should be to create a surface that is dust free with little or no redistribution and no droppings on the desktops below. The next day I received a text thanking me for the advice and a few before and after photos that confirmed the theory behind the science.