You'll feel much more comfortable every day in dust-free outfits.

By Ayn-Monique Klahre
July 19, 2018
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You may not think your clothes can get dusty, but if you’ve ever pulled everything out of your closet for a big reorganization project, you were probably shocked to discover how much debris accumulated in the corners, along the baseboards, or on the floor. And no one wants to pull out a sweater from the basement for the first time after summer to find it covered in dust! Though a little bit of dust won’t harm most people, if you have allergies to dust or seasonal vegetation, keeping those particles away from your clothing will make you much more comfortable. So for every day and in the off-season, here’s how to keep your clothes and shoes from getting dusty.

In Your Everyday Closet

Despite the fact that we move through our closets every day, they gather dust just like everywhere else. “For me, it’s the tops of the shelves and hanging racks and the area down by the baseboards that get the most dust,” says Melissa Maker, the owner of housekeeping company Clean My Space and author of Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster, and Loving Your Home Every Day. Remember: Dust settles, so it’s more likely to land on horizontal surfaces than vertical ones, and the floor is where you’ll find the most debris.

But where does it come from? Your own dead skin cells, dirt outside, pet hair, and any pollutants that are circulating through your home. When you hang up a garment that’s “mostly” instead of fully clean, you’re introducing a little bit of dust into your closet. But the biggest culprits, says Maker, are your shoes.

She says, “80% of the dirt in your home comes in through your shoes. The best practice is to leave your shoes at the front door and—this may come as a shock—never to bring them into the closet at all."

The ideal is to keep your shoes separate from your clothing, ideally in a closet near the front door–if you don't have a closet there, do what you can to minimize the amount of dust coming in from the outdoors. Have one mat outside your door (coir is a popular material, and Home Depot has a large selection) and another inside to pick up residual debris, and get in the habit of stomping your feet on the way in.

“In cooler months, I go from the two-mat system to the three-mat system and add a boot tray to the front door area,” says Maker. And before storing shoes in your closet, make sure you’ve brushed off any visible debris.

In Storage

Most people store off-season clothing in the basement where your biggest concern isn’t dust, but moisture and pests like mice and moths. In that case, the plastic bin or space-saving bag you use to keep those elements out will be just as effective against dust as they are against rodents and moisture.

“Make sure everything is clean and bone-dry before you store it,” Maker advises. That will prevent bad elements from being trapped inside your critter-proof bin. The only exception: Natural materials–like leather shoes and jackets filled with goose down–need to be able to “breathe” a little, so don’t store them in plastic.

If you store clothing in an area that’s less prone to moisture, like an out-of-the-way closet or attic, dust becomes a bigger concern. Here, fabric garment bags are a great option to keep clothing protected from debris. This is especially true for garments with details like lace, pleats, beading, or other surface treatments.

Maker explains, “If you have something like a dress with a nice appliqué that you only wear every few months, [garment bags] will prevent dust from setting in the decorations that are tricky to clean out.” If you have the space, consider a rolling rack with a fabric cover to act as a dust-repelling closet for your clothes, like these options from Target.

Taking these small steps will reduce the amount of dust you introduce into your closet and keep your stored wardrobe debris-free. Not only will your clothes look better for longer but–especially if you have allergies–the results will make you feel more comfortable every day.