Every drywall installation and repair job brings with it clouds of fine dust -- a product of sanding the drywall after taping and finishing. The dust isn't poisonous, but it does create a respiratory hazard, so letting it circulate throughout the house isn't an option. You don't want to wet it down, though, because it turns into a goopy mess that settles into every crack and crevice in the room. Moreover, although vacuuming is a good way to control it, the fine particles quickly clog the vacuum filter. Ultimately, removal calls for a combination of approaches.
Dust Removal Procedure
Open the windows, make sure the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is off and block the air vents with plastic sheeting. Put on a dust mask.
Sweep the bulk of the drywall dust into a pile on the floor with a broom. You won't be able to get all the dust this way, and you'll raise some of it, but you can deal with the residue later. Collect the sweepings in a pail or garbage bag. Wait 15 minutes for airborne dust to settle before proceeding.
Put a fan in the window and point it toward the outside. Go through the room once more and sweep, but do it vigorously, and direct the dust toward the fan as you do. Clearing the dust in this way will be even more efficient if you can open two or three windows and -- if possible -- put a fan in each one. Even if you don't have that many fans, the open windows will create a helpful cross-draft.
Wait another 15 minutes, then vacuum the floor. Now that the bulk of the dust is gone, you shouldn't have to worry about clogging the filter. Use an upholstery attachment to get dust out of corners, extract it from between hardwood floorboards and remove it from tile grout.
If you're vacuuming with a wet/dry vacuum, fill the canister with an inch or two of water. That way, dust will dissolve in the water instead of circulating through the canister and back through air intake port.
Wipe the floor and all the woodwork down with a damp cloth to remove the dust residue. The cloth will easily pick up what's left, and you don't have to worry about if turning back into mud, which is what drywall professionals call the joint compound that produced the dust. Use the cloth to wipe dust from rough surfaces such as tile grout or masonry.
An Ounce of Prevention
You won't have to go through the same cleanup procedure if you remember to cover the floor and furnishings with canvas or paper drop cloths before you sand the drywall. All you'll have to do is carefully roll up the drop cloths when you've completed all the sanding and have brushed off the walls prior to painting. Take the drop cloths outside, shake them out and put them back in place for painting.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.