Dusting Under Furniture without Breaking a Sweat

I don’t like to clean, but I love a clean house. It’s a good thing, too. Mikey’s allergies to dogs (we have two) means a tidy home is a requirement more than a preference.

I was completely overwhelmed when I first became aware of the severity of Mikey’s allergies. His pediatrician instructed me to vacuum and dust every day, including under the furniture. And I did. At the time, our traditionally styled furniture sat low to the ground. I moved every piece daily for a month. Then, I had a massive freak out and replaced all our furniture with modern, mid century reproductions on skinny legs. Sweeping under the furniture was much easier, but selling and replacing our furniture was unnecessary. Had I calmed down and used my head, I could have saved myself the hassle of dealing with people on Craigslist.

Every time I dust under the furniture–which I now do weekly instead of daily–I feel like sharing with the world my technique. It’s not revolutionary. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed because I think you are going to read this, mouth agape, and marvel at my total naivete at keeping a home. So be it. There might be one person out there who was as clueless as I was four years ago. This post is for you, fellow ding-a-ling.

All you need to dust under heavy furniture without moving a sofa or cabinet is an extension duster, the kind made for wiping the tops of ceiling fans and tall shelves. You’ll need one with a bendable, removable head made from electrostatically charged fibers. It’s much easier to remove hair and dust from this type of material than it is lamb’s wool. My favorite is the Evercare Extension Duster. I bought it years ago at Target and have been happy with it since.

The head needs to bend for obvious reasons: if it bends, you don’t have to. I find a 100°-120° angle works best at getting under furniture and is easiest on your back.  The rest is easy. (Because the preceding steps weren’t?)

Sweep, drag, tap, and shake.

Sweep under your furniture.

Drag out the contents, taking care to keep the duster head on the floor. You’ll leave dust and hair behind if you don’t.

Tap the head of your extension brush against the floor to remove the animal hair.

And shake the brush head back and forth (like those troll dolls with the crazy hair from the 80s) to remove fine dust, stubborn hair, and other random things. In my case, the plastic bit to a price tag.

I do this for every piece of furniture in the living and dining rooms and leave little piles of hair in my wake. Then I pick them all up with my vacuum. After that, I give the floors a good wash with a mop.

That’s it! Now, go have fun cleaning! (Ha.)


Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    I have two cats … if you can even imagine. I need to get one of those long duster-dudes … because trying to get it all with a regular broom makes me grouchy!

  2. says

    Great tip. I even have one of these but I have never used it for under furniture. Must try. I too love a clean house but hate cleaning. I spent the better part of Sunday cleaning and filled the canister vac with lots of gross hair balls. I keep telling myself I will clean a little every day. Just never happens.

  3. Susie says

    Hi Jules! I’m Susie, and I’m a fellow ding-a-ling. Thank you for such a great tip! I’ve been bending way over and dragging out the contents with a broom all of these years. Now I might actually have a chance of making it to old age without a dowager’s hump. I guess calcium might help too, but I’ll give you at least 50% of the credit. :)

    • says

      Hello, ding-a-ling! :) You get 1000 points of Awesome for using the phrase “dowager’s hump.” Mark my words, I will use it in a post one day. It’s a slice of awesome smothered in awesome sauce and sprinkled with fabulous.

      • Susie says

        Consider your words marked. And thanks for the points of awesome – can’t ever have too many of those! Side note: “…a slice of awesome smothered in awesome sauce…”?! Love it.

  4. Jane S says

    Hey Jules, great tip! Definitely better than all the things I have tried to collect the dust and dog hair tumble weeds. I need all the help I can get with finding tricks to keep my house clean. Have a great day! :-)

  5. Samma says

    It’s not a cheap solution but we love love love our Roomba — and it fits under all the furniture, so no cat hair dust bunnies. Perfect for hardwood floors like yours.

  6. says

    Jules, we too have a dog and lots of little white dog hair floating around. Plus hardwood floors. Not a good combo. I just bought one of these (well, actually 2 – one for home & one for our cottage). LOVE it! The V-design lets you get right up to the chair legs, corners of dressers, etc. Here’s a link to it on the Target website: http://bit.ly/p1xgA5

    • says

      That petite vacuum looks great, Julie. Funny, I have been looking for something small and light that I can pull out to pick up all the dog hair piles from under the furniture. I have a Dyson, which is great, but it is heavy and large. (I’ve tried using a broom or my hands to pick up the hair, but I always leave some behind. Hence, the vacuum step.)

  7. says

    This makes me long for wood floors!

    When we moved into a rental with carpets, I decided that a Roomba was an absolutely necessary expense, because he can go under our furniture. There’s no way I’m moving furniture every time I vacuum. I despise our carpet.

  8. Kathie says

    Wow – so simple! My ceiling fan cleaner just came today from Amazon but it doesn’ bend! Wish I had read this first. I think I have the dust/vacuum thing down, but you gloss over the “give the floors a good wash with a mop.” I have no idea how to do that! I’ve had a housekeeper for most of the last 20 years and we just decided to go without. Four weeks later and I still can’t figure out how she got the floors so un-smearily clean. (Ok. 4 weeks later and I still haven’t mopped). I should have hid in the closet her last day so I could watch. Swiffer? Sponge mop? She used the old fashioned string mop for tile and wood laminate which – gross. How do you ring those out? I should see if YouTube has a video. Seriously, I do feel like a ding-a-ling!

    • says

      Now you know why I was clueless: I had a housekeeper for 9 years. My advice–don’t ever buy a Swiffer. They are the worst and make your floors more dirty. Plus, they are expensive. I use the Libman Wonder Mop, hot water, and 1/4 cup of Mrs. Meyer’s soap in Basil. I’ve used Murphy’s Oil soap, but heard it was bad for wood finishes. (I also heard people swore buy it.) I haven’t yet found the perfect floor soap for wood floors. Some people swear by vinegar, others diluted ammonia, and others just used warm water. When I find the perfect cleanser I will shout it from the roof tops.

      Honestly, the best way to really clean your floors on your hands and knees with a soft rag and a big bucket of sudsy water. I have yet to try it, for obvious reasons.

      • Kathie says

        Yes, obviously. :) I did learn she used a string mop with warm water and a little Pine-sol. The Libman thing – I think I will try that. Not sure I could do it without a second rinse bucket, otherwise aren’t you just swirling the dirt in the cleaning water? We have two large greyhounds with 24-hour access to a doggy door, and an acre of nothing but dirt here in the desert, so our dog hair dust bunnies start to resemble tumbleweeds in a matter of days.

        I’m liking the ding-a-ling series! 😉

        • says

          If you mop your floors weekly (*cough*) it won’t be a problem. If you don’t, you’ll have to toss out the water after a bit and start anew. In the beginning, I tossed out a whole bunch of water. 😉

  9. says

    I love my Bona flat mop thingy for my hard wood floors. it doesn’t leave any streaks, is ridiculously easy to use and does a fine job cleaning. But aside from that, is it weird that I was most distracted by your pretty molding in this post?

  10. barb hanners says

    This thing you use looks to be about 18 inches long in the actual dusting head – most sofas are 24 inches front to back – so there’s still a lot of are that doesn’t get covered. The couch I have is about an inch off the floor, so the pivot joint would not go beneath the sofa to reach all the way to the other side. What to do?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>