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Essential Attic Cleaning Checklist for Spring

Last Updated: May 2, 2022

Essential Attic Cleaning Checklist for Spring

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Spring is a great time to clear out your home, clean your living spaces, and make any needed repairs. As you jump into your spring-cleaning chores, don’t forget your attic. A proper spring cleaning checklist for your attic can go a long way in helping you tackle the chore.

Whether you have a simple space in your rafters or your attic has a more finished look, include your attic in your spring cleaning to-do list. By doing this, you not only will have a chance to make any needed repairs in your attic space. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that your spring cleaning is complete from the top of your home to the bottom.

What Does an Attic Do?

This top part of your home may not seem so important, but it actually is a crucial part of your home. It not only helps protect us from the elements and provides stabilizing structure to our home, it also helps regulate the temperature in our homes. Keeping your attic in good shape is an essential to preventing damage from roof leaks and improving the environmental conditions in your home.

Having proper insulation in your attic space promotes a healthy environment, reduces energy usage, and improves the functioning of your HVAC system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can lose up to 60% of your heated air due to leaks and poor insulation in your attic.

Doing a good clean of your attic can reveal areas where there are gaps in your insulation. If your insulation is particularly old, it may be time to replace it with more efficient modern insulation.

Importance of Cleaning the Attic in Spring

Your attic is often a forgotten part of your home. Perhaps it is out of sight, out of mind. But routine cleaning of your attic is important. Letting it become cluttered, dusty, and leaky can not only affect your home, but also the health of you and your loved ones:

·        Mold and Mildew – Mold should be addressed immediately. Mold spores in your attic can be dislodged and can circulate in your home through your HVAC system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions that mold can aggravate allergies and can cause headaches, immune system disorders, asthma attacks, cognitive impairment, respiratory distress, fatigue, and other conditions.

·        Rodents and InsectsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that contact with rodents and their droppings can cause several different diseases and conditions, including serious ones like plague, salmonellosis, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and certain types of fevers. Insects such as flies or mites are unsanitary as well.

In addition, an attic is one of the places where people might store household and landscaping chemicals, including solvents, insecticides, pesticides, drain cleaner, and household cleaning solutions. This can be hazardous, as the temperature in your attic fluctuates. During the summer months, your attic heats up.

Beware of Chemical Hazards

In addition, an attic is one of the places where people might store household and landscaping chemicals, including solvents, insecticides, pesticides, drain cleaner, and household cleaning solutions. This can be hazardous, as the temperature in your attic fluctuates. During the summer months, your attic heats up.

If there is a leak of chemicals, the liquid can be transformed into gas vapors. Some of these chemicals are harmful to people and pets. It is better to store these types of chemicals in a temperature-stable area of your home, always out of reach of children and animals.

When you get up into your attic to do a deep cleaning, you can eliminate these household hazards. In addition, it will allow you to do a good inspection of your attic space. Some leaks, cracks, or gaps can only be discovered from inside your attic. Making attic cleaning part of your annual spring cleaning will ensure that you are also doing an annual inspection of the structural integrity and soundness of your attic space.

Clean the Attic for Your Wellbeing

Cleaning up your attic can also improve your well-being. A recent study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TruGreen found that 72% of respondents reported an increase in feelings of well-being when they tidied and cleaned their homes. Although you may not spend much time up in your attic, cleaning it out can improve both your home’s cleanliness and your own state of mind.

So, how often should you clean your attic? Ideally, your attic should be cleaned at the change of the seasons, especially in the spring and fall. If you are storing items up in your attic, you can include a decluttering of all those boxes and bins with each spring cleaning.

It can be easy to forget to go up into your attic when you’re cleaning, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to handle all the dust and clutter. As you prepare for your spring cleaning, include this handy attic cleaning checklist to make sure you take care of your attic space.

Attic Cleaning Checklist for Spring

The best way to ensure you don’t miss any part of your attic cleaning routine is to go through a checklist. Use this attic cleaning checklist to make your attic cleaning chores straightforward and easy to complete:

An infographic detailing an attic cleaning checklist for spring.
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1. Safety First When Cleaning Your Attic

If your attic does not have a floor, then you need to take special care when moving around in your attic space. An attic without a floor typically just has a layer of insulation above the drywall between the joists. This drywall is simply the ceiling of the room below and is not adequate to support your weight. Falling through the space between the joists could result in injury or even death.

You can put down boards spanning the joists, but unless you do this properly, there will not be enough support for your weight. Boards should be laid flush with the wooden joists and not simply put on top of insulation. You may need to move insulation to do this. If so, then be sure to put it back in place when you are done with your attic cleaning chores.

Take care not to hit your head on any roof trusses. A hard hat can protect your head if the space in the attic is tight. Also, watch for any protruding nails in the wooden surfaces and beams in the attic.

2. Pick the Right Day and Season to Clean

Since your attic is at the top of your home, it is susceptible to uncomfortably hot weather in the summer and extremely cold weather in the winter. Spring is the ideal time of the year to clean your attic, so plan to include it as part of your spring- cleaning chores. Keep daylight savings time into account when planning your cleaning project.

3. Remove Everything from Your Attic Before Cleaning

It is hard to clean out a cluttered area. To make your attic cleaning easier, start by removing everything from the space. Take out heavy and bulky items first so that you have more room to work. Then, use a laundry basket, plastic totes, or cardboard boxes to collect smaller items.

If you are going to be returning items to your attic, you should clean them of dust and grime. Removing them and cleaning them is easier than trying to do your cleaning up in your attic space. If you have a partner to work with you, you can make clearing out your attic fast work. One of you can stay in the attic space and hand down items and boxes, while the other takes them. This will keep you from having to go up and down on a ladder over and over.

4. Discard Any Items that are Broken, Wet, Damaged, Musty, or Moldy

Items stored in an attic space are usually fine, but if there has been a roof leak, you could encounter damaged or moldy items. Since we are not in our attic spaces often, a leak can cause a lot of damage before we realize there is a problem.

Items that are moldy are usually not safe to keep, especially if they are made of wood, paper, or cloth. These should be discarded. Also, check any air conditioning units that are in your attic for leaks.

5. Dust the Entire Attic Area

Attics can get very dusty. Poor attic ventilation is a prime cause of dust accumulation. Before starting to clean your attic, don a good dust mask. You might be surprised at how much dust can accumulate over a year’s time due to poor ventilation. Vacuum first to remove the bulk of the dust. Then use a broom for finer cleaning. A slightly damp mop can also capture a lot of fine dust.

When dusting your attic, it is best to work from top to bottom. Use a duster or broom to remove dust from the ceiling of the attic. Don’t forget to dust down all sides of your rafters. If your attic has windows, dust the window frames and window sills as well. Finish by dusting any light fixtures and attic fans.

Doing a good dusting will also remove any dust mites that are living in your attic. While dust mites are considered usually harmless, they can cause symptoms for people who are allergic, especially anyone with asthma. Doing a deep clean and dusting of your attic will remove the associated dust mites from the area.

6. Check for Leaks, Moisture, or Mold

Once your attic is cleared of items and boxes, you should do a good once-over of all the surfaces of your attic. Look for any areas of moisture, especially along the rafters and in the insulation. Evidence of a leak include wet spots, mold or mildew, or unpleasant odors. If you see evidence of a leak, it will need to be repaired immediately.

Try to find the source of the leak. Water can flow for quite a distance along a sloped area, so a wet area in your attic could originate some distance from the water puddle or damp area. Some attic and roof leaks can be repaired as a DIY job. But in many cases, it is best to call in a professional to handle it. An insufficient repair means the leak can continue to cause damage, often without you realizing it. So, it is important to address leaks and make good and reliable repairs to the area.

7. Check for any Rodent or Pest Problems

If you think you’ve been hearing noises up in your attic, it may not be your imagination. Pests and rodents can move into your attic, especially during the winter months. Rodent and bug infestations can cause damage to your home and create an unhealthy environment for your family. When you include your attic in your spring-cleaning chores list, you’ll have an opportunity to discover any problems with pests in your attic space.

Attics are ideal environments for mice, rats, bugs, and even squirrels and bats. It is a sheltered place and warmer than the cold outdoors. These pesky critters can cause damage to your roof, insulation, and even electrical wiring.

Evidence that you have pests in your attic include hearing sounds or scurrying, encountering unpleasant odors, experiencing electrical problems, or seeing droppings or dead insects in your attic space. If you find evidence of rodents, you can use traps or poisons. But you may want to call in a professional. You will not only need to remove the rodents. You also need to determine where they entered your attic and close off that access to rodent-proof your attic.

Your attic cleaning routine should also include a termite inspection. Look for discoloration, sagging areas, mounds of what looks like tiny wood shavings or pellets, and any areas of wood that look rotten or eaten away. If you see any evidence of termites, immediately call in a professional. Besides killing the termites, you may need some structural reconstruction to keep your home safe.

8. Check Your Attic Insulation Material

Insulation helps you save money on your energy bills. If your attic’s insulation is contaminated by excess dust, animal droppings, or is moldy, you may need to replace it. Because these are types of serious contamination, the insulation would need to be removed completely. You will then need to sanitize all the attic floor surfaces. Seal up any leaks, gaps, or cracks in the wood. Finally install new insulation or have a professional install it for you.

Attic insulation that runs along the floor should sit above the floor joists. If it is sinking down, it is time to add more. There should also be no gaps in the insulation in your attic. Add additional insulation to any places that are not sufficient.

9. Organize Your Attic Inventory

Removing all the items from your attic gives you the opportunity to sort through and tidy the contents. Many times, homeowners have boxes in storage and can’t even remember what’s in them. If that’s you, cleaning out your attic will give you the chance to go through these household items or sentimental things and decide whether you want to keep them or not.

Start by unpacking any boxes and bins. As you handle each item, decide whether you want to keep it. Have a box handy for anything you want to discard. Usable items can be sold or donated. If you have broken items, they should be recycled if possible or discarded.

For those items you want to keep, decide if the attic is the best place to store them. Many things stored in the attic are better kept in your living spaces. You can honor your sentimental items and family heirlooms by displaying or using them in your home rather than keeping them out of sight in your attic.

Because your attic can get very hot and very cold, and can sometimes be damp, there are some things to never store in your attic. This includes delicate fabrics, furs, leather items, candles, important papers, photographs, electronics, and flammable materials. You should also never store food up in your attic. Not only will it spoil faster, it also can be a magnet for pests and rodents.

10. Replace Everything Neatly

With your dusted, cleaned, and upgraded attic space ready, you can now return items to your attic storage. Instead of using cardboard boxes, invest in some plastic storage bins with lids. This will protect your items in the event of a leak. It will also protect them more from rodent damage. Some things are better than others to store in your attic. Your attic is best suited for the storage of seasonal decorations, luggage, large sports equipment, camping gear, and other durable household items.

How a Dumpster Can Help

As you clean out your attic, you will most likely find lots of things that you need to discard, from items you no longer want, to broken things, to stuff that is moldy or damaged. Chances are that you will have more to toss than will fit in your regular residential trash pickup.

Renting a roll off dumpster is a great solution. As you sort through your attic clutter, you can immediately toss what you want to discard into your rental dumpster. With driveway delivery available, your dumpster will be just steps from your front door. You won’t need to bag up your trash, so discarding is quick and easy. A dumpster is especially helpful if you have bulky items or furniture to discard. Just make sure that you put the larger items in first so everything fits.

A hidden benefit of renting a dumpster for your attic cleanout is that is also gives you the opportunity to discard items from other parts of your home as well. If you find that you have some extra room in your dumpster after your attic deep clean, take the time to go through your other rooms. You will most likely have other clutter to discard. Having a dumpster for the typical 10- to 14-day period allows you to declutter more than just your attic.

When You Don’t Want to Clean Your Attic Yourself

It may seem like a lot of work to clear out and clean your attic space. If cleaning your attic seems too daunting, consider hiring an attic cleaning service. Not only will they clean your attic, they will also inspect your attic for any signs of leaks, mold, and pests.

An attic cleaning service will also typically look for areas of missing or old insulation. They can let you know if any attic remediation or upgrades should be made. Best of all, you won’t have to deal with any of the dust or mess yourself.

How much does an attic cleaning service cost? The price of an attic cleaning depends on several factors: how big your attic is, how dirty it is, and how much you want the service to do. If you are willing to empty your attic yourself, you can save money over a full-service attic decluttering and cleaning.

If you need extra services, such as insulation remediation or rodent control, you could see additional charges. There may also be an extra charge if your attic is difficult to get into or has any unsafe elements that need to be addressed before cleaning can start.

How to Make an Attic More Comfortable

An attic doesn’t need to just be used for storage. In many cases, your attic can be transformed into a comfortable extra room. It can be a guest room, a playroom for your kids, or a lounge area.

Whether your attic can be turned into livable space depends on whether it has a floor, full-size stair access, windows, and vertical clearance of at least 7 feet in the majority of the space. While converting an attic can be done as a DIY project, it is quite involved and you may need the help of a professional.

Even if your attic space can’t be converted into living space, you can still add a few upgrades that will make the space better and improve the comfort of your home. Adding an attic fan will increase the energy efficiency of your home and help cool down your upstairs areas in the summer.

You can also blow in extra insulation. Topping off the batt insulation in your attic will help keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. You can hire an insulation service to add a layer of fiberglass or cellulose insulation on top of the layers of insulation you already have in your attic.

Once your attic is cleaned and organized, you can celebrate a job well-done. Maintaining this space will ensure that you family is safe and healthy in the year to come.

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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