Tips for Controlling Dust in the Garage

Garage Floor Coating
The Garage Guy

In most homes, the garage is much more than a place to park vehicles. It may be a storage locker for old furniture, a garden shed for tools and lawn supplies, or a woodshop or mechanic's shop. All of these uses make the garage a place that gathers a lot of dust and grime. On top of that, garages have large doors that are constantly opening and closing, and a lot of outdoor dirt and debris gets blown inside.

It sometimes seems that no matter how often you sweep and clean the garage, the dust reappears as fast as you can remove it. But there are several ways to control dust inside your garage and help keep it relatively dust-free between regular cleanings.

Begin With a Thorough Cleaning

If the garage is quite dusty, start with a good, thorough cleaning. Do this systematically, beginning by cleaning high shelves and workbench surfaces of all dust and debris, and working your way down to the floor. For the most thorough cleaning, use a three-tier approach: First, sweep up dust and debris, then vacuum all surfaces using a shop vacuum, then damp-mop or use a microfiber dust cloth to remove the finest dust from all surfaces, walls to floor.

Pay particular attention to any powder efflorescence on the concrete foundation walls and floor. Make sure the concrete isn't currently shedding. If so, make sure seal the concrete.

Seal the Concrete Slab

One source of dust in a garage might surprise you: the concrete floor. Concrete that isn't properly sealed will eventually begin to break down slightly when moisture and substances such as oil or grease seep into it. This causes the concrete to eat itself, producing a fine sheen of rock and Portland cement dust. When you walk, drag items, or drive a car through it, this dust becomes airborne and settles everywhere.

Seal every concrete surface in the garage with a good impregnating or penetrating concrete sealant. This will not only stop your concrete from producing excess dust in the future; it will also help prevent staining in the case of spills or oil leaks. Make sure you get a sealer that goes into the concrete, rather than just sitting on top as a surface layer. A good penetrating gel sealer will impede any kind of moisture or staining, which is what causes the concrete to begin to break down. They will also help fill any hairline cracks in the concrete, helping to prevent future damage and making your floor last even longer.

Repair or Replace the Door Seals

A considerable amount of dirt and dust can blow into a garage underneath doors that have bad or missing seals. Check the condition of the seals on the main garage door and any side passage doors to make sure they are in good condition. Reattach any that are loose, or replace seals that are cracked or torn.

Change the HVAC Filter

Do you have an AC or HVAC system heating or cooling your garage? If so, it may be time to change the filter. Filters on your AC or heating unit help pull particulates out of the air. When the filter becomes clogged, it can't do its job as effectively. This makes your garage dustier than it should be, and it also causes your HVAC system to work harder, driving up your energy bills and requiring more frequent maintenance.

Install an Air Filtration System

If you don't heat or cool your garage with a filtered appliance, consider running an air filtration, or dust containment, system like those used in woodworking shops. These systems work only to clean the air—they don't affect the air temperature. Many work with an electrostatic filtration system to pull dust and other particulates out of the air. Filtration or containment systems are particularly helpful in garages that are used as shop spaces.

Clean Lawn Equipment and Garden Tools

After each use, clean your lawnmower and garden tools outdoors before storing them away in the garage. Grass clippings and garden dirt from tools comprise a surprisingly large amount of the dirt and dust in a garage. Outdoor play equipment should also be cleaned before storage.

Vacuum, Don't Sweep

Once your garage is thoroughly cleaned and you have taken the logical steps to reduce and control dust, you will still need to perform ongoing cleaning. A shop vacuum with a good internal filter is a much better way to keep things clean than pushing around dust and dirt with a broom. The dust in a garage often consists of very fine, almost microscopic particles, and a broom may simply redistribute this dust rather than remove it. Clean or replace the filter on the shop vac regularly so that it continues to catch fine dust.

Use Sealed Storage Containers

If you are storing things like potting soil, grass seed, playground sand, fertilizers, clothing, sidewalk salts, plaster, or drywall compounds in the garage, make sure to keep them in covered and sealed containers. Any loosely stored dry materials can contribute to dust in the garage. Buy some convenient plastic storage containers to keep these items safely sealed. Sealed containers will also prevent rodents from infiltrating your belongings.