How To Keep Books Dust-Free

Categories Dust
how to keep books dust free

Dust is the bane of my life here! Having our dog seems to make it worse. I do hate picking up a book and having to dust it off first! So what is the best approach for keeping your books dust-free? In this post today I am going to take you through how to keep your books and your bookshelf clean.

Here is the quick answer, read on for much more detail:

The best way to keep your books dust-free is to always store them in an enclosed bookcase. If you don’t have that, store them horizontally rather than vertically so you only need to clean the upper-most book. If you need easy access to the books, store them vertically and regularly wipe them over with a dry microfibre cloth so that they stay clean.

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How to keep books dust-free

Here are three top tips for keeping your precious books dust-free. Read on to find out the best way to get them clean once the dreaded dust has settled!

1. Store them in an enclosed bookcase

If the dust can’t get to your books they will remain dust-free. A bookcase with a glass door ensures that your beautiful books can be displayed as well as protected from dust.

my bookcase

2. Add book sleeves

If your book already has a sleeve, keep it in place and it will help to protect your book from dust. For your precious books that don’t have a sleeve, why not add your own cover?

Here are some book covers that are super-easy to fit on different sized books.

3. Store books of the same size together

Of course, even if your book has a sleeve it will still collect dust on the top.

Try to arrange your books on the shelf so that similar height books are together. This way it makes it easier to dust the top of the books. I have tips on the best ways to dust your book further down this post.

4. Store your books horizontally

stacked books

If you are fed up with dusting your books? Why not store them horizontally instead? That way you need only to dust the top-most book. Put the books you need access to most frequently near the top of the stack.

How to dust books on bookshelves

If you don’t have any time, why not dust everything at once? Try this method of dusting your books in place. That way you can save loads of time.

Things you will need for dusting your books on the bookshelf:

  • Dusting tool. This can be a paintbrush, dry microfibre cloth or a vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment.
  • Optional – HEPA air filter. This will prevent the dust from spreading and settling back on your books as you dust. Plus, it will help tremendously if you have dust allergies.

For vacuuming, use your small brush attachment with a nylon sock over the top or some tights.

You could also use a micro attachment for your vacuum cleaner like this one:

How to dust your books on the bookshelf:

Step 1 – Dust the front of the shelf

dust the front of the bookshelf

Take your dusting tool and dust the front of the bookshelf up to the edge of the books. For this use a dry microfibre cloth or your vacuum cleaner. You can also use a paintbrush but do be aware that you will be sending the dust back out into the room to settle elsewhere! Microfibre cloths are perfect because dust tends to cling to the fibres so you don’t get a dusty room.

Don’t be tempted to use a damp cloth for dusting because you don’t want to introduce any moisture as your books will degrade. I find wet cloths tend to just push dust around.

Step 2 – Dust the tops

dust the top of the books

It will be easier to dust the tops of the books if you have them arranged so that similar height books are together. For cleaning the tops of books in one go, I recommend using a dry microfibre cloth. It can be tricky to use a vacuum if don’t have much space above the top.

Take a clean microfibre cloth and wipe over the top of each book. You don’t need to take the books out of the bookcase, this can be done in place.

That’s all that is needed for a simple clean. If you do it regularly your books will stay dust-free.

Related reading:

How to spring clean the books on your bookshelf

Occasionally, you will need to do a more thorough clean. This will involve taking the books out and dusting them individually. I recommend doing this every six months or so.

  1. Lay out a clean bedsheet in front of your bookshelf.
  2. Start from the top shelf and take out each book placing it on the sheet.
  3. Dust the inside of the bookshelf with a dry microfibre cloth.
  4. Take another damp microfibre cloth and wipe again.
  5. Allow the shelf to dry thoroughly before you return the books to the shelf.
  6. For each book, remove the dust cover and gently dust all sides of the book. For this, you can use your microfibre cloth, a paintbrush or vacuum.
  7. Gently fan the pages as of the book as you hold it downwards.
  8. Set the book back on the shelf and repeat from step 6 for each book.

Always use a dry cloth on books to prevent moisture from causing damage. For vacuuming, a micro attachment is great for cleaning books. Or use your vacuum’s brush attachment with a nylon sock over the top.

Have a HEPA air filter nearby to stop dust from wafting around the room.

How to keep your bookshelf dust-free

Keeping your books constantly dust-free is going to be difficult if they are stored out in the open. The only way to ensure books remain free of dust is to put them in an enclosed bookcase.

The other option, of course, is to simply just store them away, but if you want to enjoy them that is going to be out of the question. I love to see books displayed, it makes a room look so much more homely.

If you don’t have an enclosed bookcase and you want to keep them on show, here is how to keep dust to a minimum:

1. Avoid adding ornaments in front of the books

Avoid putting decorative items in front of the books. Ornaments can look attractive but make dusting all the more tricky. I like to keep my bookshelf clear of anything else, so I can just swipe a cloth over it quickly without any faff.

2. Dust regularly

If you keep your bookshelves clear, dusting regularly will be easy. I love my microfibre cloth for dusting books. They pick up and cling to dust and I can quickly wipe over the tops of the books too.

3. Store your books horizontally

Books stacked vertically will collect dust on top of the book which is the part that is most difficult to clean. If you stack your books horizontally you only need to dust the top of the uppermost book. This option is perfect if you don’t need to get to the books very often because removing the books towards the bottom can be more of a challenge!

4. Do a six-monthly deep clean

A regular wipe over with a cloth can keep most of the dust at bay, but every six months or so you will need to do a more thorough clean. Check out the directions here.

5. Put a dust shield on your bookcase

When I first read about bookcase dust shields, I thought, what an amazing idea! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good picture so I will have to describe it. Apparently, this is a Swedish thing, but what you do is add a fabric top to each shelf on your bookcase. This stops the dust from collecting on the top of each book and it also makes your books look neat and uniform in height.

With one of those in place, all you would need to do is to dust the front of the shelf because the tops would stay lovely and clean.

If anyone has a picture of one they have made please do email it to me because I would love to see an example!

Another option would be to add a curtain over the front of the whole bookcase. The books will be hidden from view, which might not be what you want, but it will keep the dust away.


Thank you to James for sending me a link to an actual example of some homemade dust shields. These are very simple to make using just some cardboard and your favourite fabric. They are washable too! Check out this guide from for directions on how to make your own bookshelf dust shields.

book case with dust shields

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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys and one dog, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.