Vacuum Cleaner Dust Grey

Why is Vacuum Cleaner Dust Grey?

Vacuum cleaner dust largely consists of dead skin cells, which appear grey in color.  While humans come in various colors, the pigments and blood vessels are deep below the skin and do not transfer with the skin as it sheds. Without blood or pigmentation, the dead skin flakes turn grey.

Our skin is constantly shedding, which is why about 70% of dust is made up of dead skin. The rest of the dust  is made up of wind-blown soil, pet debris, and other particles that do not reflect light. A vacuum is an imperative tool that removes dust efficiently but leaves a lot of questions that we will explore in this article.

Why is there so much dust in my vacuum?

While most of the dust comes from human skin, the remaining amount comes from outside sources, pet dander (dead skin), pollen, mold, and more. Luckily, there are ways to lessen the amount of dust in your home, resulting in less dust in your vacuum.

Ways to reduce dust in your vacuum

There are a few different ways to reduce dust in your home and decrease the amount of time you spend vacuuming. One easy way to limit the amount of dust in your vacuum is to clean frequently. After you vacuum, run a micro cloth along any hard surfaces to pick up leftover dust.


Grooming yourself and your pet often will lessen the amount of dead skin shed. This means exfoliating consistently to remove dead skin cells and grooming your pet often to remove excess fur and dander.

Close windows and doors

Close your doors and windows, even during the warmer months. It may be tempting to keep them open, but you will be susceptible to pollen, dust, and other outside particles being blown inside your house. If you live in a very dusty environment or have a high pollen ratio, then a good option is to invest in an air purifier.

Keep shoes out

Keep your shoes out of the house or in a container if possible. Shoes not only track in dust but bacteria as well. In a study run by Dr. Charles Gerba, you can find an average amount of 421,000 units of bacteria on the exterior of the shoe and 2,667 units on the interior of the show.

Splurge on your vacuum

Upgrading your vacuum to a high-quality one can make a huge impact if you buy the right type. If you buy a UV-C equipped vacuum, you can effectively reduce the amount of dust in a healthier way.

Is vacuum dust bad for you?

Did you know that vacuuming can be bad for your health? If you are not using a high-quality  vacuum and replacing it every few months, or using HEPA filters, your vacuum may be spitting more dust into the air than you think.

If a vacuum is sending dust into the air, it could be sending allergens too. This can cause issues dealing with the respiratory system, allergies, and asthma,

According to researchers at the University of Queensland and Laval University, vacuum dust can “lead to adverse effects in allergic people, infants, and people with compromised immunity.”

What is the white dust in my vacuum cleaner?

While most dust is grey, you may experience white dust in your vacuum. There are a few reasons why your vacuum may contain white dust. Some of these reasons include foot traffic, paper products, HVAC systems, and air humidifiers.

Foot traffic

If you have a carpet that gets heavy foot traffic, then you may notice that your vacuum has some white dust in it. Your carpet is more susceptible if shoes are frequently on it. If this is happening to you, try putting shoes outside or in a container before entering the house.

Paper products

If your family uses a lot of paper products, especially toilet and tissue paper, then your white dust may be a result of low-quality paper. Upgrade to a better brand to reduce the number of paper bits left behind.


A common culprit for white powder is your HVAC, otherwise known as your heating, venting, and air conditioning system. Check your ductwork to make sure that the sealing is correct. If any air gets through, then you increase your chances of getting white dust. If you have a dual fuel heat pump system, make sure it’s well-maintained, as these systems can also contribute to the presence of white powder.

Air humidifier

Air humidifiers can release natural minerals into water, resulting in a white dust.

Reduce the amount of white dust your air humidifier produces by switching to a steam vaporizer. Stay away from ultrasonic humidifiers and cool mist impeller humidifiers as these can release white dust particles into the air.

Use distilled water to reduce the number of minerals sinking on your carpet. There are little minerals in distilled water, which cuts down on the white dust.

What is atmospheric dust?

Atmospheric dust is another reason why your vacuum cleaner’s dust may be white. Unlike domestic dust, which is grey due to consisting of mostly dead skin, atmospheric dust can be all sorts of colors such as white due to construction.

Is white dust bad for you?

White dust is annoying but not technically harmful. A study shows white dust from ultrasonic humidifiers gives off a cellular response but does not “cause severe acute inflammation in pulmonary tissue.”

What exactly is vacuum dust?

Vacuum dust is a mix of both natural and synthetic ingredients. These ingredients can include fungi, soil, dead skin cells, lint, food crumbs, and more.

Consistently cleaning your home will prevent the formation of bacteria, dust mite droppings, and insects.

Final thoughts

Vacuum dust is grey due to mostly dead skin particles, making up approximately 70% of the dust. The remaining percentage of dust is made up of soil, pet dander, and other non-reflective items.

Do not sit back and let household dust grow. The longer you let dust accumulate, the more susceptible you are to germs, mold, and more. Clean often, use authentic HEPA filters, and use a high-quality vacuum cleaner to reduce household dust.