How to Clean a Feather Duster

Cleaning the shutters with a feather duster
Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sink or large bucket
  • Terrycloth bath towel

Materials

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Wool wash
  • Glycerin

Instructions

How to Clean a Feather Duster

  1. 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.

  2. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Fill a sink or bucket with warm water and add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid per gallon of water. Agitate the solution with your hand to disperse the soap.

  3. 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.

  4. Rinse the Duster Head

    Refill the sink with clean, warm 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.

  5. Shake Away Water and Air-Dry

    Once the soap is removed, gently shake the duster over a towel or outside to remove 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

  1. Remove Excess Dust

    Take the duster outside and give it a good shake to remove as much loose dust and soil and possible.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Rinse the Duster

    Drain away the dirty water and refill the sink with cold water. Rinse the wool duster head until no more suds appear. Gently squeeze out the water.

  5. Renourish the Wool

    Pour one tablespoon 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.

  6. 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.

How to Clean an Electrostatic Duster

  1. Shake out Loose Soil

    Go outside and gently shake the duster to remove as much soil as possible.

  2. 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 with cool, clean water, and rinse the duster head.

    Tip

    Electrostatic dusters with removable duster heads can be washed in a washer. Place the duster head in a mesh laundry bag and wash on the gentle cycle with your regular laundry detergent. Do not add any fabric softener, because it will interfere with the fibers' electrostatic properties. Do not place the duster head in an automatic tumble dryer. Hang to air-dry!

  3. Dry the Duster

    Shake away excess water and hang the duster to air-dry.