Dusty Balcony: Top 5 Ways to Tackle It (Dos & Don’ts)
A balcony is an expensive but worthy investment for homeowners who enjoy the occasional hot drink while reading and taking in the scenery the vicinity affords – weather permitting.
But dust ruins the experience.
A regular cleaning schedule keeps the balcony in reasonable shape, but for a balcony that gets dusty quickly, increasing the dusting frequency is tiresome and time-consuming.
Why is the balcony so dusty?
How can you reduce dust on your balcony, or can you prevent dust altogether?
Why Do Balconies Get Dusty?
A balcony may have an overhead cover, but it is an outdoor space exposed to external elements.
Some homeowners install screens on one or multiple sides to protect the balcony from direct sunlight, wind, rain, or prying eyes; others desire the unencumbered view with only the original safety railings protecting it.
Dust affects all balconies.
Many factors affect the level of dust you experience in your balcony, and they include:
- Your property’s location – proximity to industrial or farming zones can cause your balcony to experience a higher-than-usual dust amount. Factories generate air pollution, and farming disturbs the topsoil that leads to airborne dust particles.
- Air quality – poor and polluted air carries solid particles and hazardous gases. Sadly, your property does not exist in a bubble.
- The surrounding buildings – the presence of structures around your building shields the balcony from direct wind, which carries dust (to an extent).
- Construction work in the vicinity – building construction at all stages produces debris and dust. Your balcony may not directly face a building under construction, but the wind can blow in any direction and bring dust to your doorstep.
- Apartment renovation in the upper floors – if you have neighbors above you undergoing upgrades or remodel, gravity and wind bring a constant supply of dust to your balcony.
- Balcony height – properties on higher floors experience more persistent and strong wind from multiple directions. Still, those nearer to the ground level suffer from proximity to human activities and smoke from motor vehicles.
- Balcony garden – the soil contains particles of varying sizes, including dust, and plants produce negative ions and attract dust. The ever-present wind ensures a constant supply of dust from your balcony garden. However, highly dusty macro-environments can use tall plants as shields; it is a workable compromise depending on your situation.
- Your lifestyle – humans shed dead skin cells and hair fragments, but the amount of dust you contribute is relatively small.
- Pet dander – cats and dogs shed tiny flecks of skin just as any mammals do. Still, its effect is negligible when you consider the magnitude of the dust problem your balcony faces.
How to Reduce Dust in Your Balcony?
A dusty environment is an annoyance and a health risk.
The indoors suffer from dust problems, but it is easier to manage and mitigate. An outdoor space is exposed and remains at the mercy of the external environment.
How do you protect your balcony from excessive dust exposure?
The solutions range from simple and inexpensive to more costly installations involving professional help.
1. Architectural Screens
External screening devices help shade the balcony from the harsh weather elements, improve privacy, and add aesthetic appeal while keeping the space semi-outdoor.
Architectural screens suitable for a dusty balcony are available in various forms:
- Bamboo roll-up blinds.
- Fixed frame with adjustable (vertical or horizontal) slats.
- Foldable privacy panels.
If your balcony balustrades are not solid panels, ensure the screen goes full height.
Simple internet searches with “balcony screen” + “your local area name” should yield useful results.
Understand the manufacturer’s specifications and choose a screen that works for your balcony and your budget.
2. Ceiling-Height Plants
Plant leaves produce negative ions via transpiration and attract dust, leaving you with a dusty balcony.
If your balcony receives consistently significant amounts of dust, balcony planting helps more than exacerbates the dust problem.
The plant cover must be comprehensive on all open sides and extend the entire balcony height to block and reduce dust effectively.
Alternatively, artificial plants can work as an efficient but inexpensive screening device.
You still get some dust, but you reduce your cleaning frequency.
3. Reduce Outdoor Clutter
Minimizing furniture or objects on your balcony does not scale down the absolute amount of dust you get, but it reduces the number of surfaces that collect dust.
Further, furniture creates nooks and corners that increase your cleaning effort.
Tools and garden equipment should have dedicated enclosed storage in the balcony or a room that does not get as much dust.
The balcony is a space for relaxation, not open storage.
4. Keep Your Possessions Off the Floor
Raised objects keep your balcony floor clear and easy to clean.
If you must keep your possessions in the balcony, avail enclosed storage cabinets that stay elevated from the floor.
A 6-inch gap under the cabinet is sufficient for a broom, mop, or vacuum cleaner to reach the wall edges.
An empty space is quicker to clean than a lived-in one; keep the balcony floor clear, and your job maintaining a relatively dust-free space will require less effort.
You will more likely stick to the cleaning routine.
5. Clean After the Rain
Rainwater turns dust into visible dirt that stains the floor surface.
If you need to clean the balcony floor with water, wash it after the rain stops and eliminate double work on your scheduled cleaning day.
Drench the floor with enough water so that scrubbing washes away the dirt and does not stain the surface.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Dust may be present even if it is not visible to you.
Dust is harmful to healthy living; you want to get rid of dust effectively, not conceal it.
When you want to reduce dust on the balcony, avoid:
- Laying artificial grass – it traps but does not get rid of dust. Dust can quickly accumulate and become a more significant health problem for you and your pet.
- Wet mopping – works only for interior floors with less dust. Water turns an excessively dusty balcony floor into a mess. Outdoor flooring is typically not high-glazed; the surface of matt finish tile flooring has relatively higher water absorption, and the stain can be difficult to remove. Mopping with water works if you have a semi- or high-gloss hardwood floor.
- Ventilating through the balcony door – the smallest gap between your balcony sliding doors causes draft and the wind to push in the direction that brings more dust to your balcony and into the interior.
Can You Prevent Dust in Balconies?
Life will be easier without dust as you can spend less time cleaning and more time relaxing – but it’s not.
Can you genuinely avoid dust and keep a balcony dust-free?
Outdoor spaces cannot escape dust; you can reduce and prevent excessive dust accumulation on the balcony, but you cannot avoid dust altogether.
The optimal approach is understanding your balcony’s dust sources and sticking to a cleaning routine that keeps the dust to a minimum and works for your daily schedule.
If you have a balcony that gets severely dusty quickly, consider employing option #1 above (architectural screens).
How to Clean a Dusty Balcony?
The best way to clean a dusty balcony depends on:
- The balcony design – you can clean balcony floors with edge curbs (low protruding wall at the edges of the floor) using water, provided it has drainage.
- Flooring material – wet mopping or cleaning with water is suitable for glossy hardwood floors, high-glazed ceramic or porcelain tile floors, and concrete floors. Vacuum or sweep then mop works better for matt finish tiling.
- Availability of water – a hose bib at the balcony is convenient for washing and watering the plants. Carrying buckets of water from elsewhere is more work and a slip hazard.
- Drainage and drain outlet – not all balconies share the same design. The absence of drainage and, more importantly, drain outlet means you cannot soak the floor with water.
Should You Vacuum Your Balcony or Clean It with Water?
Cleaning the balcony floor with water is ideal if the balcony design permits – when drainage and a drain outlet are available.
Always sweep or vacuum your balcony floor before introducing water and cleaner to mop, scrub, and remove grime.
Large dust and dirt particles that get wet make your cleaning unnecessarily more onerous.
How to Clean Balcony Floor without Hose or Water?
If your balcony does not have a hose bib or water supply:
- Clear the balcony floor – dust items you pick up from the floor. You don’t want to transfer the dust elsewhere.
- Dust the balcony walls, railing, and furniture – work from the top down.
- Sweep or vacuum – get rid of dust and dirt while they are still dry and easy to remove.
- Ready your bucket of water, cleaner, and tools – do this after sweeping or vacuuming.
- Wet mop or scrub with a brush – it depends on your floor surface. Use the appropriate cleaner for your flooring. Rinse the floor if you have tough dirt and stains, then mop or scrub as necessary.
- The final clean – Wipe down the railing and furniture with a damp cloth. Give the floor a final wet mop with clean water to remove residue cleaner and dirt.
How to Clean a Balcony without Drain?
If your balcony does not have a drain and drain outlet, you cannot drench the floor:
- Clear the balcony floor – plus, dust any items you remove from the floor.
- Dust the balcony walls, railing, and furniture – you want to dust in gravity’s direction. A damp cloth prevents a dusty environment.
- Sweep or vacuum – remove large dust particles before the floor gets wet.
- Wipe down with a damp cloth – a microfiber cloth works just as well. Wet the cloth to ensure you don’t inhale airborne dust.
- Wet mop the floor – If the floor has a rough surface and grime, scrub with a brush and cleaner but without flooding the floor. Wipe off the dirty foam.
- The final mop – use clean water but ensure you only use a damp mop.