THE HOUSE CLEANING SERIES TIPS: THE ATTIC
They say what goes up, must come down but they weren’t necessarily referring to everything you’ve stored in your attic
Tomorrow night is the big night. It’s your 30th high school reunion. You thought it would be fun to look through your old yearbook. Last time you saw it, it was moving day, 15 years ago. It was in a box of miscellaneous things you put in the attic.
You climb up there and take a quick look around. Are your eyes deceiving you? Last time you were up here, there were only a few boxes. It looks like someone’s house with furniture, boxes and clothes. It will be impossible to find the box with the yearbook under 15 years of dust.
They say what goes up, must come down but they weren’t necessarily referring to everything you’ve stored in your attic. Sure, it would be nice to be able to find everything you’ve stored there in the same condition you left it in but that isn’t always the case.
Guide to Cleaning Your Attic
The first thing to keep in mind when cleaning your attic is to think about what’s underfoot. Some attics have structural support or floors, to be exact. Others, like my house for example, have beams and in-between the beams is the ceiling to my house. Walking on the rafters is a must as you can fall through the ceiling.
If you didn’t think about adding a floor or ‘sub floor’ before you stored your belongings, I suggest before you try and clean anything: Lay plywood down and attach it to the beams. It will be much easier to clean and store things in the long run. It will be worth the time and effort.
The Nitty Gritty
Cleaning the attic can seem overwhelming. It’s hard to know just where to start. Before you roll up your sleeves to work, consider wearing an inexpensive disposable dust mask. Unused attics are dust magnets and you might be glad you have one.
The best route to take to tackle this project is to remove everything from the room and start with a clean slate. If this is an option, remove your belongings and set them aside so you can thoroughly clean the area.
In most cases, removing existing items is not an option. One suggestion is to pick a small area, move all of those items to another area, clean, and put the items back and continue the process.
To clean, start up, as high as you can and dust. Use the attachment on your hand held vacuum and remove as much dust as possible. If you don’t want dust to land on your belongings, use a tarp or flat cardboard boxes. It will be easy to remove unwanted dust from them and they are re-useable.
Next, vacuum the walls and baseboards if you have them. Dust can collect anywhere and everywhere. If you haven’t already done it, take time to dust your belongings before you move them back to their designated spot. There’s no point in moving dusty things into a clean space. If a vacuum isn’t an option, try using a damp cloth to catch unwanted particles to prevent them from being pushed back into the air.
If you have windows in your attic, it’s a great time to clean them. Store bought window cleaner is a great option that you might already have around the house or try putting a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar to 2 cups warm water in a clean spray bottle.
Last, vacuum the floor. Vacuuming will allow you to better control the dust that will surely be dancing through the air. Another option is to spray the bristles of a broom, the part that actually sweep the floor, with the window cleaner. Do this periodically in-between ‘sweeps’ to keep the dust particles down.
While you’re in the attic, take time to sort through your belongings. Are there things you could donate or toss? This is a great time to pare down your things.
Organize. Label. Repeat.
The key to making your attic space work for you is to organize it. You’ve taken the time to clean it; you might as well put it in working order. Remember what the space looked like before?
One important tip for organizing: put things in air tight storage containers. Critters love to find their way into attic spaces. It happens in all homes. Another reason for air tight containers is that some attics could have moisture issues and plastic air tight containers keep the moisture out.
Put like things together (clothes in this area, furniture in that area, and holiday decorations in this corner). When your belongings are organized, label them, preferably on the outside where it’s easily visible. Make sure you document what is in what so the next time you need it, you’ll have a higher success rate of actually finding it.
As tedious as it may sound, once you label your box, take inventory. Write the contents of each box down, make a map of your attic on paper and take it into the house. Once you’re in your home, you will have everything at your fingertips and an easy map designating each items whereabouts making for an easy trip the next time you need to find something up there.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking you’re dreaming about little the pitter patter of feet over your head? You think you’re dreaming when in reality, you’ve got something living in your attic that you did not invite.
It’s well worth the money to hire a professional pest control service to check out your space. They will be able to see what animals are or could be living rent free. And they too will be able to tell you the best way to keep them out.
If the professional route isn’t on your list, make sure you check the exterior. Are there little nooks and crannies open that would allow for a pest to enter your attic? Make sure the vents are covered and no exposed sunlight is visible in the attic.
If you did have animals and they’ve left their ‘deposit’, you will need to clean it properly as to not leave the scent or an invitation for other animals. Make sure to wear a disposable dust mask so you don’t inhale dust you might drum up when cleaning animal matter. Disposable rubber gloves are another option to wear to keep your hands free and clear of unwanted substances. Be sure and throw away both the mask and gloves when done.
Cleaning your attic can seem like an overwhelming job, but once you do it and see the outcome, you’ll be more likely to use the space as its intended and keep it organized.
— Amanda Pokorny