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Clean up of Drywall Dust!!!!

bhackford's picture

Well, I have about 1/4 of drywall dust covering 3,000sqft. What is the best way to get this cleaned up? Shopvac does not work good? Too cheap of one? A $75 HD one. Sweeping takes alot of effort and need to repeat and repeat? Thanks for youe help.

(post #99730, reply #1 of 17)

A shop vac will work but you need a better filter or the dust will eventually start blowing out the exhaust.

Home Depot sells paper filters for Ridgid shop vacs that are supposed to handle drywall dust.

(post #99730, reply #2 of 17)

Take a drywall bucket and make two holes in the lid to fit the hose ends, put some water in it and put it between the pickup and vac.  Might need and extra hose.  Like a poor man's version of chip collector for Dust col. system or the cheaper drywall sanders.  May have to duct tape a little.

For those who have fought for it Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.

(post #99730, reply #3 of 17)

FAQ - been discussed at lenght.  Try the search function.

The dust can burn up a vacuum.  Start by sweeping.  Probably use a dust mask.  That's what my drywall contractor does.  Then I have my cleaning people sweep again.  If you ard DIY - you might want to sweep the walls first.


(post #99730, reply #4 of 17)

I guess all of those drywall sanding vacuums are ready to turn new construction into barnfires, huh?

(post #99730, reply #6 of 17)

Burn up as in ruin.

Joe H

(post #99730, reply #7 of 17)

Just sharing personal expierence.  I think you knew what I ment when I said "burn up".  To tell you the truth I didn't know there were "drywall vacuums" though.  I guess they have special filters - as mentioned above.    

Really, I don't see a compelling reason to get rid of all the dust off the floor provided that it is new construction.  I'm guessing the OP is doing new construction - unless it's a 3000 sq ft addition.


(post #99730, reply #8 of 17)

there are, and you're both right, just talking about different things. A regular shop vac like the crapsman most of us tote along just has a big bucket with the motor overhead and a pleated filter to catch the worst of it. On that kind of vac, which excels at big chunky things, the fine dust will, in short order, clog the filter to the point that there is little suction left. Its possible that the motor could get frazzled if left on long enough.

But specific drywall vacs, as well as some of the tool triggered vacs like the Festool, have the motor separated from collection via a bag. Not unlike a dust collector system in the shop, the bag allows the movement of air but catches particles up to some micron rating. Then there's pleated filters beyond that before you even get to the motor. So the only realistic way to really jam that up is to fill the bag, at which point you simply toss the bag and put in a new one. But they don't lose an appreciable amount of suction until you're there. They excel at particles, but not so good at chunks.



"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man." - Mark Twain

Real trucks dont have sparkplugs

(post #99730, reply #11 of 17)

The craftsman (or probably any other) will work fine provided you buy one of those bags made explicitly for fine dust particles.

I sucked up about 1/4" at about 800 sq feet with one bag no problems. Shop Vac running fine (obviously I put a new bag in it) and have done more drywall work since then as well.

(post #99730, reply #5 of 17)

Like someone else said - This has been discussed at length before.

I sweep first. Sweeping compound helps, but it takes quite a bit of the stuff.

Then I use a shop vac. But on the outlet side of the shop vac, I put a 2nd hose on and run it out the window. That way any dust that gets by the filter is blown outside.

Look with favor upon a bold beginning

(post #99730, reply #9 of 17)

If you can keep the air movement in the building to a minimum, you can start by scraping the dust toward the center of each room or section with a shovel, moving at a deliberate pace. This way, not too much dust is going airborn. Collect the piles and THEN sweep slowly, unless there really isn't much remaining on the floor. There are pleated paper filters available for most brands of shop vacuums and they can be reused by taking it out, then rapping it on the side of a garbage container. They're a lot better than the cheap paper sheet that attaches with a rubber band. Once you start to vacuum, you can put a box fan in a window to blow the airborn dust out.


"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

(post #99730, reply #10 of 17), actually did have a cheap shopvac catch fire once on drywall and plaster dust, and that was using a filter...but I presume it was a fluke situation.  Probably enough dust got past the filter to the motor and caused it to seize.  Not actual flames, just bad smelling smoke and a little high blood pressure.

Either way, we've gone through several cheap shopvacs around demo and plaster work.  Each time a shopvac went down we'd grab the domestic Hoover with the hepa filter "just this once...".  But it works so well, that we've stopped buying/storing a shopvac for interior stuff.  The durned Hoover has taken a beating and looks like He!! but works a treat (worth the price of a good cleaning and service occasionally).  We use all the attachments, such as the hard floor tool to do walls and the crevice tool to suck up reservoirs of dust on trim, above doors, out of fixtures and outlets- before it moves around.

Move slowly!  Don't just fling it around.  Cut all drafts.  Use a squeegie-like edge to create mounds, not a broom.  Scoop mounds onto a dustpan and stick it well into a plastic bag before dumping the dustpan.  Suck reservoirs of dust off of doorframes and trim, never flick it into the air with a bannister broom.  Use a tack cloth on all surfaces.  Do several itterations of top-down cleaning.  Don't forget carpets and upholstery 3 rooms away.  Dust can be gone in 24 hours, not weeks.

EDIT TO ADD:  Keep vac interior clean and change its filter pad as often as the bag.

Edited 11/5/2005 11:14 am ET by hacknhope

Edited 11/5/2005 11:17 am ET by hacknhope

(post #99730, reply #12 of 17)

Sweep / scrape / shovel / bag first and then try rasconc's solution (...73.3), you might be surprised by the results.  The water in the drywall bucket will look like white paint pretty fast - but no / very little flying dust and no clogged vac filters.

This does qualify as as a FAQ with lots of archives.


Never underestimate the value of a sharp pencil or good light.

Never underestimate the value of a sharp pencil or good light.

(post #99730, reply #13 of 17)

Paper bag filters specfically for drywall dust for just about any shop vac are available in many places.  Even Walmart carries slightly courser paper filter bags for shopvacs that work ok, but don't catch the very fine dust, which is still worlds better than a conventional shop vac filter.

If it were at my residence, I'd want an air humidifier going when any sweeping/dust making were going on.  Have you ever noticed that when it's raining outside, and the humidity inside is very high, the drywall dust isn't as much of a problem? 

Along the same lines I wouldn't hesitate to pump a quart of water through a fine stream hand pump sprayer to slightly dampen the drywall dust before sweeping--it doesn't make mud, simply lets the dust clump together slightly.

Having said that, at work I would simply scrape everything with a flat shovel to loosen chunks, put on a good dust mask and sweep the area well, starting with the walls.  Then suck the entire area with a shop vac.

Another great way to limit airborn dust is to use a box fan and a disposible furnace filter.  It will amaze you how much dust it takes out of the air quickly.  The course filters at Walmart for 99c are perfect, don't try a fine dust filter since they don't let the air through fast enough.  99% of people who hear this idea poo poo it, until they try it--then 100% of the people think this is a wonderful idea. Seriously, it's that good.

Dusty trails to you,



Beer was created so carpenters wouldn't rule the world.

(post #99730, reply #14 of 17)

Sweep it and then mop it.

(post #99730, reply #15 of 17)

Just finished doing this to our new construction.

Shop Vac (16 gal) with hepafilter to suck up all we could.

What you do next depends on if this is your house, or if not, whether the owner wants to endure the next expense.

The next step should be to embed the remaining dust into the floor. If you don't, you'll have fine dust covering the furniture for years to come, as household vac filters usually aren't fine enough to hold in the old drywall the dust just keeps getting recycled.

To accomplish this, we painted all floors with a high quality 100% Acrylic latex paint, using the 5 gal buckets the folks at the big box store messed up their color mixes on and sold to us for $15. Got some real interesting colors. If you're putting down a carpet, the pad will likely gradually stick to the paint, making future tear out a bit of work....and if this concerns you, might consider using an oil.

Carpet guy thought the sky-blue floor was cute.


(post #99730, reply #16 of 17)

Again - I don't see why anyone would think anything beyond a good sweeping is necessary.  Houses are built everyday with nothing more than that.  In the ones I have built the HVAC system often ran for a week before possession was turned over and I never saw any excessive dust (if any at all) on mirror smooth counter tops, etc.  Heck - the one I live in/built never showed any signs of drywall dust after construction and for a while I used those micron rated $12 furnace filters and never noticed anything that looked like drywall dust on them.

Sorry, but I think that is a great example of the difference between a pro builder and an armature - some people just don't know what is "good enough" and in the end are really not saving much on the DIY build.  It's called over-built.  I know "over-built" is somewhat of a secure feeling but now that we are thinking about building another and moving on I can guarantee some of the things I did here were no different than burning money in the fireplace.


drywall dust ? (post #99730, reply #17 of 17)

After 36 years in the business , the worst thing I've ever seen anyone do to drywall is sand it . Sanding fuzzes up the paper and that is a lot harder to fix . The short of it is : Hire a pro ! It takes 5 years apprenticeship to hang drywall and 5 more years to finish it and , even then , most people just don't have the knack for it .You watch someone who knows what they're doing for 5 minutes and decide that "anybody can do that" ! In the long run , you don't save money and if you mess it up badly enough , it can cost you more to fix  than it would have to hire it done .