Dust is abrasive, traps moisture and harbours insects, causing damage to objects. Mould spores and dust mites are also harmful to humans.
Removing dust and dirt by brush vacuuming (surface cleaning) can be very beneficial for many material types. However, removing dust and residues from objects should be carefully considered as they may provide clues about where and how an object was made, even who used it. Before you surface clean an object, ask yourself if the dirt is actually an important part of the item’s history. Do not brush vacuum if the surface of an object will be damaged, eg flaking paint.
This information sheet was developed by the Conservation Department at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.