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Attic Cleaning Tips
and Tricks

June 7, 2022

Attics can be ideal for expanding your home’s living space, but for many of us, they serve as at-home storage units. Depending on how long you’ve lived in your home, your attic could be housing everything from 1980’s water beds to last year’s Christmas decorations.

If attic cleaning hasn’t made it onto your housekeeping checklist after all these years, think about the last time you visited the attic to find something. All that stuff sits in our attics year after year, collecting dust and dirt that makes us sneeze and cough every time we go up there. By the time we find our hidden treasures, our eyes are tearing up, and our noses are running.

Too often, we can’t wait to get out of there, much less think about cleaning the attic. But many attics harbor more than discarded items, seasonal supplies, and dust. Allergens like mouse droppings, mold, and insect carcasses are also common in attics and can aggravate those with asthma and allergies.

Every time we open that attic door, those nasty particles can sneak into our homes and lessen the air quality we breathe. Those contaminants simply aren’t healthy, and that’s why yearly attic cleaning is so vital.

If you haven’t done any attic cleaning in a while (or ever), getting your attic clean may seem overwhelming. But when you break the job down into stages, learning how to clean an attic is something just about anyone can pull off.

The Five Stages of Cleaning the Attic

We won’t pretend cleaning an attic is easy—it’s not. Years of accumulated stuff, dust, and dirt are waiting above your head, and getting things clean and organized will take some time. But like any large cleaning project, attic cleaning is more manageable when you have a plan.

Here is a proven plan of action for how to clean your attic and get it organized:

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  1. Gear Up

Before cleaning the attic, you’ll want to put on a filtration mask, gloves, and safety glasses. There will be lots of dust and dirt floating around up there, along with insulation and potentially mold. You’ll need your vacuum cleaner, broom and dustpan, and a hand broom to get your attic clean.

If you don’t have an outlet in your attic, take caution in running extension cords from below so you don’t trip or fall. Many attics don’t have enough light, so bring along a work light or headlamp to light the way. If your attic is higher than arm’s reach, you may also want to carry a step stool up there.

  1. Clear a Path

Safety is key when moving around an attic. For areas that don’t have solid flooring, only stand on floor joists or other structural members. The ceiling between joists isn’t strong enough to support much weight, so proceed with caution.

Carefully remove boxes, bags, and other containers and enlist a helper below to bring them down into the house. Move furniture and other items out of the way to make cleaning the attic easier.

  1. Tackle Dust and Dirt

Start by dusting the framing, light fixtures, window frames, and walls with your broom. You can use the broom or vacuum to dust large items and furniture still in the attic. Use your hand broom to get into corners and crevices of the attic floor, and push the dirt and dust out into the open.

Next, sweep the attic floor, get up as many of the piles of dirt as possible, and use your vacuum crevice tool to get into gaps and crevices between flooring pieces. You can vacuum across the flooring using the hard flooring setting.

If there are windows in your attic, use glass cleaner and microfiber cloth to clean the glass and wipe down the window frames. Remove and clean the window screens, followed by window treatments so you can wash them. Finish up your attic cleaning by moving items back to their correct locations and carrying your cleaning tools down.

  1. Inspect the Attic

With dirt and dust out of the way, it’s time to check the attic for any problems. You’ll want to use a work light or flashlight to scan the attic floor and check for missing or damaged insulation.

First, check what insulation you can up close to spot mold and mildew. Check for excess moisture, insect damage, and signs of a pest infestation like droppings or gnawed containers. If you find damp insulation, signs of pests, or mold, you may want to call in a professional to correct the issues. You can replace missing insulation or add additional insulation yourself, but unless you have a particularly good sense of balance, consider hiring someone instead.

  1. Sort, Organize, and Store

Now that the cleaning parts are complete, it’s time to sort through attic inventory and start making decisions. Head down into your home and get ready to purge!

Go through every box and bag and pull out the contents. We know that could be a lot of work, but trust our experience—it’s worth it. Every item must go into three piles: keep, donate, trash. Be as objective as possible, and you’ll likely find yourself with much less stuff to haul back up your attic stairs.

For your keepers, sort the items and use the correct storage to keep them safe. Use a fire-proof box for important documents and photos, plastic bins with lids for clothes, etc. To make it easier to find what you want later, consider using clear containers or labeling them. Lastly, enlist a helper to move your newly organized attic inventory back where it belongs. Stack containers when possible and keep items spaced far enough apart where you can walk around them.

Doesn’t it feel good to close that attic door knowing that your attic is clean and organized? So now that you can check off attic cleaning, what’s next? Check out the rest of our helpful housekeeping guides to make keeping your home cleaner and healthier much easier.

Whether you tackle house cleaning yourself or let The Maids handle the dirty work, we’ve got you covered. Get your free online estimate today and find out what a difference we can make in your home.

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