8 Ways to Reduce Dust from Your Gravel Driveway

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated October 7, 2021
beige house with gravel driveway
OlegAlbinsky/iStock unreleased via Getty Images

Put a damper on driveway dust with these tips

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Your expansive, charming, and rustic gravel driveway was your home’s perfect welcome sign—at first. Now, it’s just a direct-to-door pathway for dust clouds. Gravel driveways are a popular choice for many homeowners, but they generate more and more dust as they sit. If you’re tired of wiping dirt from your windows and windshields with every pass, keep reading. Here are eight tips for how to reduce dust from your gravel driveway.

1. Reduce Your Driving Speed

car tire on gravel driveway
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One of the easiest and least expensive ways to minimize dust from your gravel driveway (hint: it’s free!) is to reduce your driving speed. Lowering your speed by even a few miles per hour can greatly reduce the amount of dust you leave behind.

2. Water the Driveway

Damp driveways produce less dust. Watering the driveway, especially if you live in humid environments, will help control those pesky fly-away particles.

  • Hose: Use once every few days for smaller driveways in wetter climates.

  • Sprinkler system: Use for longer driveways in drier climates. However, this can be a water-intensive option, so you may want to add a sprinkler timer or controller to your system as a way to conserve water.

3. Add Windbreaks

Dust is created as the gravel degrades from erosion and cars pass over it. To help block the wind that spreads the particles, install fences, hedges, or other plants along the driveway. Living plant roots also hold soil together, ultimately reducing the amount of loose dirt.

4. Spray on Soybean Oil Soapstock

For many years, homeowners sprayed gravel with petroleum oil-based products to keep gravel dust at bay, but this is detrimental to ecosystems. Soybean oil soapstock, a byproduct of soybean oil, offers a similar effect to spraying on petroleum-based products, but it’s a much more environmentally friendly solution. Other pros of soybean oil include:

  • Can reduce agricultural waste.

  • Doesn’t need to be combined with water; in fact, it’s more effective when applied on its own.

  • Is biodegradable, non-toxic to plants and animals, and does not pollute waterways.

For coverage, apply 1/4 gallon per square yard of the driveway every three to four months. For best results, apply when the outdoor temperature is 75°F or higher to ensure a faster absorption.

5. Apply Dust-Grabbing Salts

Salts, when combined with water, are one of the most effective ways to reduce dust from a gravel driveway. Common dust suppressants like calcium chloride and lignin sulfonate keep driveways damp by pulling moisture from the air, which helps adhere tiny gravel particles from flying up into the air. 

These salts are pungent and need to be applied with precision. You might consider hiring an experienced contractor to deposit the salts carefully and evenly. But keep in mind that using salts to reduce dust is not recommended for people living near water sources like rivers or lakes, because it can pollute your water and make it unsafe to drink.

6. Install Permeable Pavers

Permeable pavers are a pricer, but long-term solution to gravel dust. Because they are, well, permeable, they eliminate standing water—a top dust-producing culprit once the water evaporates and dries.

In addition to reducing dust, pavers are also environmentally friendly. To install, you’ll fill low spots in the driveway with gravel, level the driveway, then install the pavers to lock gravel in place.

7. Keep Up With Maintenance

rake used on gravel
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Gravel driveways require regular raking, filling, and grading to keep your path looking smooth and level. Fix minor potholes before they become bigger, dust-whipping divots. Fill the base with large gravel, the middle with medium-sized gravel, then top off the hole with smaller gravel that matches the rest of the driveway.

Use a tractor (or hire local a gravel contractor) to grade the driveway at least once per year to help provide proper water drainage.

8. Lay Down a New Top Layer

Driveways with thicker layers of gravel may produce less dust. You can reduce the amount of gravel erosion, which later becomes dust, by adding a fresh top layer to your gravel driveway.

  • Layers: A good gravel driveway will typically include at least three layers of rocks, a sub-base layer, the base layer, and a surfacing layer.

  • Shapes: Opt for irregularly shaped stones to prevent them from compacting, which will allow water to properly drain.

  • Types of rocks: Vary the types of rocks and sizes to help reduce dust and improve drainage, such as crushed stone, pea gravel, and Jersey Shore gravel

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