Why is My Garage Always Dusty?

All garages have one thing in common:

Dust.

It doesn’t matter how you use your garage. Whether it’s for storing tools, detailing your car, woodworking, or storing your extra stuff, they all get dusty.

No matter how much I clean it or how little I store in it, my garage creates dust out of thin air.

I found some things that help limit the dust, and I want to share them here.

The main reason your garage is so dusty is actually your concrete floor. Concrete is a porous material that lets water seep in, but that water eventually breaks down the concrete, forming dust. Your garage also attracts dust from flakes of dead skin, pet fur, and bits of leaves or other debris breaking down.

No matter how many times you sweep the floor, the dust never goes away.

After some research and asking around, I discovered some easy, inexpensive ways to keep your garage dust-free.


The #1 Reason Your Garage Is Dusty

I won’t bury the lead here.

The number reason your garage is dusty is your concrete floor.

Let me explain why.

Concrete comprises three major components: a cement powder, sand or another aggregate (filler), and water.

Those three components live in (hopefully) a perfect balance.

If you don’t have the right mix, your concrete mix is weaker than it should be and breaks down quicker.

According to the National Ready Mix Concrete Associate (NRMCA), a concrete floor will dust when the surface is so weak that it can be scratched by a fingernail or even swept with a broom.

When concrete breaks down, it will start to form a layer of dust all across the floor.

What Causes Concrete Dusting?

Which brings up the question: what causes concrete to degrade and start dusting?

There are many reasons but most only apply to industrial or outdoor applications. The main things that homeowners should worry about are moisture, temperature, and abrasion from physical contact.

Moisture: Motor oil or chemical spills gradually start to break the surface of the concrete down. If your concrete is weak enough, even water can start this process. This causes small pits and cracks in the concrete as different areas degrade faster than others.

Temperature: Like anything, concrete will expand and contract slightly with different temperatures. The main challenge is in colder climates. Floors poured in freezing outside temperatures may not have had enough time to solidify, weakening the concrete.

Abrasion: Physical contact wears everything down eventually. Every time you walk or drive across your garage floor, you wear off a small layer of the surface, kicking up dust. The more use the floor’s surface gets, the more dust will accumulate.

If your bare concrete garage floor is the culprit, how do you stop it from kicking up dust, covering everything?


How to Stop Concrete Dusting & Reduce Dust in Your Garage

There are several possible solutions at many different price levels.

Floor Coatings

No matter what, your bare concrete garage floor will need some sort of coating to cut down on the dust. It can be as cheap as a coat of paint or as complex as a full epoxy coating.

It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend and how long you plan on living in your home.

Here’s an overview of the three primary floor coatings:

  • Epoxy: This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the most durable. I wrote a detailed article discussing whether you should epoxy your garage floor. Check it out if you’re on the fence!
  • Sealant: Sealing your garage floor adds a protective, water-resistant coating that cuts down on dust. You will need to use a suitable concrete sealant to seal the floor.
  • Concrete Paint: If sealing your garage floor isn’t an option, a cheaper option is to paint it. Several manufacturers make paint specifically designed for your garage floor in a variety of colors. It’s not as strong as an epoxy coating, but it will help cut down on dust.

Other Ways to Prevent Dust in Your Garage

Once your floor is sealed or coated, here are some other tips that may help cut down on the dust in your garage.

  • Replace the door seals: The second leading contributor to dust entering your garage is your garage door’s seals. Worn-out garage door seals allow dust to get inside, even with the door closed. Replacing the damaged or missing seals around your garage door will help tremendously.
  • Change your AC Filter: If you have an AC or an HVAC system in your garage, your old filter might not be trapping dust properly. You need to regularly clean your system’s filter and replace it if it is really old. A dirty filter will stop filtering the hot or cold air entering your garage.
  • Buy an air filtration system: Adding an air filtration system to your garage also helps. They filter the air circulating inside your garage, cleaning the air and eliminating dust.
  • Vacuum instead of sweeping: Use a heavy-duty shop-vac instead of sweeping your garage floor. Sweeping causes dust to spread, while vacuuming sucks up the dust and contains it.

How To Get Rid Of Dust In Your Garage

We need to get your garage back to where it has as little dust as possible, then track your progress.

Think of it this way. Any airflow spreads the dust around your garage if you have dusty shelves.

That makes sense, right?

Regular cleaning your garage regularly is the first step to preventing dust from covering your garage.

For ideas on how you can make decluttering your garage quick and painless, check out my article, where I detail the steps I take.

I recommend starting there first, so there’s less to dust and less stuff for the dust to accumulate on.

Dust from the Top Down

Once you’ve done that, start by dusting high shelves, cabinets, tables, and benches.

This will knock the dust from the higher levels to the floor at the bottom. After dusting, wash the highest areas with soap, water, and a microfiber cloth.

You could use air to blow the dust off these high areas, but I don’t recommend it.

The air will need a lot of time to settle on the ground before you can clean. In the meantime, it’ll spread throughout the rest of the garage, making your job harder.

Not to mention you’ll be breathing all that dust in while you wait.

Clean Up the Big Debris

Once the dust settles, your next step is to pick up any oversized items on the garage floor. Kids are a great help in this step, and they’ll probably have some toys on the floor anyway!

This is also an excellent time to clean the driveway or path leading into your garage. That way, you won’t bring more dust and debris from the outside.

I make it a point to use a leaf-blower on my driveway every few days. It only takes a minute or two, but it helps limit the debris and dust that gets in my garage.

Again, I do NOT recommend using a leaf blower inside your garage.

Vacuum the Floor

After picking up the big debris lying around your garage, the next step is vacuuming surfaces and the floor.

You could go old-school here and sweep out the dust with a broom, and that’s fine. However, this also throws dust particles in the air, inevitably finding their way to areas you’ve just cleaned.

I recommend using a vacuum or Shop-Vac instead to vacuum all the areas in your garage – including the cement floor.

Pressure Wash or Mop the Floor

Sweeping and vacuuming will get most of the dust and dirt off your garage floor. However, you need to pressure wash your garage floor to get a deeper clean.

If you don’t have access to a pressure washer, you can use a mop and some Simple Green. Just be aware that you’ll need more elbow grease to get the job done.

It is important to sweep and vacuum the area thoroughly before you mop. If you don’t, you will just be smearing around the dirt.


Conclusion

Dust in your garage is a pain. You’re never going to completely get rid of it, but you can take steps to minimize it.

With a newly sealed garage floor and new seals on all the windows and doors, you’ll notice a definite improvement in how much dust you have in your garage.

Your garage may be dusty now, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.