Tips for Cleaning Up Big Messes

May 20th, 2014

shutterstock_73355293Tips for Cleaning Up Big Messes

Big messes can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you get so busy that you don’t realize the clutter has piled up. Other times, accidents happen like a burst pipe or leaking roof. The third way we’ll look at in this post is when you’ve bought a trashed house that perhaps was foreclosed or was a rental (or your tenant trashed the place on their way out).


The first thing is to buy a nice notebook and create a plan. Choose one room to focus on first, and then choose which area you want to start with.

Get three boxes or bags and spend 15 minutes focusing on that one area. The first box is for things you are going to donate. The second box is for your recycling (all those envelopes and catalogs and outdated flyers). The third box is for stuff that belongs somewhere else in the house.

If you spend 15 minutes a day on a small area, it won’t feel like work, and in a few days time, you’ll see some real results.

The next step is to spend a little time every day keeping the clean areas clear of new clutter.

If you have a major party coming up, you can always buy a large bin and shove all the clutter in there, but put a date on your calendar where you go through and organize it.

Burst Pipe

This may be a time where you want to hire a professional because it’s important to get everything bone dry or else you may get the dreaded black mold.

The first thing you need to do is turn off the water to the pipe to stop the flow.  Then take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes. A wet/dry shop vac could be useful for vacuuming up the water. Otherwise, you’ll need a lot of towels and a mop to get the majority of the water up.

You also should turn off the electricity to the area that’s wet to prevent possible electrocution.

After the water is all dried up, you can turn back on the electricity, and set up fans and, if you have it, a dehumidifier. If you have windows, keep them open.

While it’s drying out, you can replace the pipe or water heater.  If there was carpeting in that room, you may want to seriously consider replacing it because it’s difficult to get the bottom of the padding completely dry.

Trashed Rental

For this, you’ll need to rent a dumpster, and hire some people, or get your friends, and then start hauling stuff out bit by bit. Try to locate sources of nasty smells as it could be rotted food that should be removed sooner rather than later.

Wear protective gloves, masks and eye wear. Wear long-sleeve shirts, jeans and boots. Have the dumpster ready when you remove the garbage.

Keep the windows and doors open for as long as you can to get fresh air flowing through.

Once everything is cleaned out, you may need to fumigate and disinfect, or just pull out the carpeting and toss that into the dumpster as well.

Then, take a notebook and start inspecting the home for holes or cracks in walls, floors and ceilings. Look for water leaks by checking the walls, floors and ceilings for discolorations or mushy texture. Inspect all the pipes and see if there are any cracks or leaks.

Unplug the refrigerator. Dispose of any food items left inside. Clean the interior thoroughly with a bleach and water solution. Leave the doors open to allow air into the unit. If the doors are closed, mold can form inside.

Clean the other appliances with a bleach based solution as well to ensure it’s well sanitized. Vacuum and sweep up the place, wash the windows and doors, and then you can start with a new coat of paint to make the house back into a happy home.

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