How to Clean a Feather Duster (and Other Duster Types)
Concerned about the amount of waste created each year by disposable products, including disposable dusters, some people have returned to a classic feather duster. A feather duster, or another type of reusable duster, can be used more than once for dusting. How you clean and care for a reusable duster depends on the fibers used:
- A true feather duster is made of natural bird feathers (turkey, goose, or ostrich, typically). The barbs on the feathers interlock and when rubbed together build up static electricity that captures and holds dust. The best dusters are made of ostrich feathers, which are softer and less prone to leaving scratches on fine wood than other types of feathers.
- A wool duster is made from the wool of alpacas, sheep, or lambs (lamb's wool is the softest and most desirable). The natural static electricity and lanolin oils in the wool attract and hold onto dust. The fibers can be short and curly, or longer to resemble feathers.
- An electrostatic duster uses synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon, microfiber) that trap dust. The fibers can mimic the look of natural fibers or come in a rainbow of colors.
No matter the type of reusable duster you prefer, it will need to be cleaned regularly to maintain its dust-attracting capacity. Cleaning a duster is easy and requires only a few items you probably have on hand.
How Often to Clean a Feather Duster
A duster should be cleaned when it no longer is picking up dust. If you notice that dust is being left behind, it's time to clean the duster. One that is used frequently, and looking dingy or dirty, should be cleaned to prevent spreading around dust and dirt.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Sink or large bucket
- Terrycloth bath towel
- Dishwashing liquid
- Wool wash
How to Clean a Feather Duster
Remove Loose Soil
Take the duster outside and gently hit the handle against a handrail or post to shake loose as much dust as possible.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Fill a sink or bucket with water and add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid per gallon of water. Agitate the solution with your hand to disperse the soap.
Wash the Duster Head
Submerge the head of the feather duster into the soapy water. Swish it up and down in the water to remove the soil. This should take about three or four minutes. Drain the dirty, soapy water.
Rinse the Duster Head
Refill the sink or bucket with clean water. Swish the duster head in the clean water to rinse. If there is excess soap still in the feathers, hold the head under a running faucet to flush away the soap.
Shake Away Water and Air-Dry
Once the soap is removed, gently shake the duster over a towel or outside to remove excess water. Avoid pressing or blotting the feathers, as they may become matted. Instead, hold the handle between the palms of your hands, feathers up, and roll your palms. This will spin the feathers so they shed excess water.
Hang the feather duster in a shower or outside away from direct sunlight to drip dry. Do not use again until the duster is completely dry.
How to Clean a Wool Duster
Remove Excess Dust
Take the duster outside and give it a good shake to remove as much loose dust and soil and possible.
Create a Cleaning Solution
Fill a sink or bucket with lukewarm water. Add one tablespoon of wool wash or a gentle soap like Castile or Ivory Flakes. Agitate the water with your hand to create a sudsy solution.
Wash the Wool Duster
Submerge the wool duster head in the soapy water. Swish it up and down in the solution to loosen the soil. You can also use your hand to work the solution into the fibers, much as you would hand-wash a sweater.
Rinse the Duster
Drain away the dirty water and refill the sink or bucket with cold water. Rinse the wool duster head until no more suds appear. Gently squeeze out the water.
Renourish the Wool
Pour one teaspoon of glycerin into the palm of your hand and work it into the fibers of the wool. The glycerin helps restore the natural lanolin oils that have been washed away.
Dry the Wool Duster
Roll the duster in a large towel and squeeze gently to remove as much water as possible. Hang the duster to air dry completely. After it has dried, spin the handle between your palms to fluff the wool fibers again.
How to Clean an Electrostatic Duster
Shake out Loose Soil
Go outside and gently shake the duster to remove as much soil as possible.
Wash and Rinse the Duster Head
Fill a sink or bucket with lukewarm water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Swish the duster head in soapy water to remove accumulated soil. Drain the soapy water and refill the sink or bucket with cool, clean water, and rinse the duster head.
Dry the Duster
Shake away excess water and hang the duster to air-dry.
Tips to Keep Your Duster Clean Longer
Keeping the dust down in your home can be challenging, but here are some tips that will help.
- Change the air filter every 1 to 3 months.
- Brush any furry pets you have in the house regularly.
- While we all love fresh air, keeping the windows closed will prevent dust and debris from entering.
- During a deep cleaning, wipe down blinds with used dryer sheets. This simple trick helps to keep the dust from settling on them.
Wise, Natalie. The Natural Cleaning Handbook. Skyhorse Publishing, 2020.
19.3: Laundry Auxiliaries- Softeners and Bleaches. University of California Davis Libraries.