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How to Protect Clothes from Dust in Closet

man’s arm dusting a closet

Most household dust is composed of your own dead skin cells mixed with pieces of hair, clothes fibers, dust mites, soil, pollen, and various chemicals. Yuck! Skin particles continuously shed from our bodies. The rest gets tracked in on our shoes or blows in through the window. It circulates all through the house through our HVAC systems. Closing the door to the closet will not keep it out. It settles in your clothes and on every horizontal surface. So what can we do to avoid becoming a walking dust bunny? Try these tips and learn how to protect clothes from dust in closet.

Why is there dust in my closet in the first place?

Most closets don't have a window. There are usually no heating or cooling vents inside. They're used only a couple times a day and the door stays closed most of the time. So why is there so much dust getting into them? Most of the dust is coming from you. If you wear a sweater or some other article of clothing and then hang it back up in the closet because it isn't dirty, chances are it is embedded with dust particles. They get on it from your own skin cells and the environment. Shoes kept in the closet are even worse culprits when it comes to introducing dust. Also, just because there are no heating vents in your closet doesn't mean there is no air flow at all. Dust from your bedroom will still enter the closet. There it remains — trapped in the dead air spaces of the closet that lack ventilation.

Can dust ruin clothes?

Dust gets all over your clothes when you wear them. Closet dust also settles into the fabrics of items that haven't been worn in a long time. If too much dust gets into your clothes or shoes, it can be hard to get out. It's kind of like trying to get dust out of old carpeting. You can vacuum. You can steam clean, but you simply can't get all of it no matter how hard you try. Some of the dust tends to remain behind, lending an overall dingy cast to the carpet/clothing. Your best bet is to launder your clothing frequently so that dust doesn't have a chance to build up. Store clothing you don't expect to wear for a while in garment bags or some type of closed storage. Both a box with a lid or a cabinet with a snug door work well.

Decorative boxes for protecting out-of-season clothes stored in a closet
Use decorative boxes like these for protecting out-of-season clothes stored in a closet.

Tips for reducing closet dust.

Separate Your Footwear Storage

The best way to reduce the dust in your closet is to prevent it from getting there in the first place. That means you'll have to tackle your shoe situation. In most homes, the majority of dust and dirt comes in through your shoes. Best practice is to leave all footwear at the door and never let your shoes near your bedroom closet at all. That probably means setting up a separate shoe closet or mudroom organizer near the door.

Close up of a mudroom shoe closet near back door of home
This mud room closet includes a shelving tower for shoes. That way, all footwear remains near the back door and dirt from shoes never enters the house.

Remove Carpeting

Removing carpeting from the closet area is also advisable. Carpeting, especially wall-to-wall carpeting, holds a lot of dust. The average carpet can hide as much as one pound of dirt per square yard. Vacuuming helps, but even the strongest vacuum cleaners never get every last bit. Allergists have long advised hard flooring like tile or wood for their dust allergic patients. That's because it's easier to clean and remove dust from hard surfaces. Your closet and your clothing will stay cleaner without carpeting.

Very clean, narrow, galley style walk-in closet with wood flooring
This galley style walk-in closet with wood flooring stays very clean.

Cover Open Storage with Cabinet Doors

Cover the interior sections of your closet with cabinet doors. Cabinet doors installed over shelving or hanging areas of the closet prevent dust from getting at your clothing and accessories. This works as well as garment bags and storage boxes with the added benefit of greater convenience. Doors are easier to open and access. They can also be constructed with glass panel inserts that allow visibility into the contents of the cabinet. Closet lighting inside the cabinet also helps in this regard.

Cabinet doors protect clothes inside the walk-in closet
Cabinet doors protect clothes and wardrobe accessories inside this walk-in closet.

Buy an Air Cleaner

Air filtration systems will remove airborne dust and contaminants. They won't get rid of dust and dirt already embedded in your garments unless it becomes loose and enters the air, but at least it prevents more from settling over your clothes via the air. It will also reduce contaminants that enter the room via your forced air HVAC system. Better yet, make sure you always have a clean furnace filter in addition to an air purifier. It's good for your clothes and your breathing.

Purge and Clean

Clutter adds to dust because owning too much stuff with no place to put it makes cleaning more difficult. Dust will accumulate around and on top of the piles of possessions. The best way to tackle this is three-fold. Go through your belongings once a year and get rid of items you aren't using for one reason or another. Invest in a good closet organizer system so that your closets can neatly and efficiently store what is left. Dust and clean your closets and the rest of your home frequently. When a regular cleaning routine is in place, dust doesn't stand a chance.

Keep your wardrobe cleaner with these tips on how to protect clothes from dust in closet.

  • Use boxes or garment bags to store clothes you don't plan to wear for a while.
  • Cover sections of your closet with cabinet doors to protect delicate and expensive articles of clothing.
  • Don't wear shoes in the house and store all your footwear away from the bedroom near the door.
  • Vacuum frequently, or better yet, replace carpeting with a wood, tile, or other impervious flooring.
  • Use a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom and closets.
  • Dust thoroughly and regularly with an electrostatic or microfiber cloth.
  • Eliminate clutter.
  • Keep only clean clothes in your closet.
  • Change your furnace filter regularly.

The bottom line is that dust is bad. It gives you a stuffy nose and makes your clothes and home look dirty all the time. No one likes that. Get the upper hand on any dust problems with these tips. Your clothes and your home will look better. And you'll feel better too. If you've tried any of these ideas for eliminating dust in your home and clothing, we'd love to hear about it. Please use the comments section below and let us know how it went.