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How to Clean Your Basement

Clean your basement like a champ. The hardest part of cleaning a basement is working around all that stuff you’ve stuck down there. This game plan will help.


  • Step 1: Gather products Gather all your cleaning products together in one container before you start cleaning.
  • TIP: Put on some high-energy music to set the pace and keep you going.
  • Step 2: Remove and shake Remove any dustcovers you have on stored items, shake the covers outside, then toss them in the washing machine. Wipe down the items that were covered.
  • Step 3: Clean furnace Wipe down the exterior of the furnace and hot-water heater with a sponge or cloth dipped in warm, sudsy water or a solution of equal parts of vinegar and water.
  • TIP: The area around your furnace and hot-water heater should be kept clean and free of clutter and flammable materials.
  • Step 4: Dust bulbs Dust the light bulbs before replacing the fixtures.
  • Step 5: Make cleaning solution Mix one gallon of warm water, one cup of ammonia, and one teaspoon of mild dishwashing liquid in a large bucket.
  • : Never mix ammonia with bleach—it creates extremely toxic fumes.
  • Step 6: Protect floors Place drop cloths on the floor.
  • Step 7: Wet a natural sponge Dip a natural sponge into the bucket and begin washing the walls, starting at the bottom and working your way up. Complete one wall at a time, working your way around the room.
  • TIP: Don’t use a nylon sponge or a rag; it will drag as you wash and take you twice as long.
  • Step 8: Scrub mold If you find mold, scrub it with hot, soapy water. Rinse with a clean, wet rag and dry thoroughly.
  • Step 9: Clean windows If your basement has windows, combine one pint rubbing alcohol, two tablespoons clear ammonia, and two tablespoons dishwashing liquid. Dip a nylon-covered sponge into the solution and wash the windows. Rinse and buff dry.
  • Step 10: Vacuum Sprinkle the floor with baking soda to neutralize odor, then vacuum or sweep it up. Vacuum or sweep the stairs.
  • TIP: When sweeping, use long, directed strokes, moving from the corners to the center of the room and sweep into a dustpan.
  • Step 11: Clean detectors Gently vacuum any smoke detectors; this will keep them clear of dust, which affects their sensitivity. Also, replace their batteries.
  • Step 12: Wash floors Mop your floors. If you really want them to sparkle, go the extra mile and hand wash them. Use a damp—not wet—cloth. Begin at the edges and move across the floor using a small circular motion.
  • Step 13: Eliminate odors Put out a pan of clean clay cat litter to absorb moisture and odors.
  • Step 14: Thank God Thank the Lord you won’t have to clean the basement again for a while.
  • FACT: Before electricity was invented, people sprinkled the carpet with tea leaves because it attracted dust and dirt to the surface, making it ready to be swept.

You Will Need

  • Sponges
  • both natural and nylon
  • White vinegar
  • Lint-free cloths and rags
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • A bucket
  • Ammonia
  • Drop cloths
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cleaning implements
  • like a vacuum
  • broom
  • dustpan
  • and mop
  • Baking soda
  • Batteries
  • Clay cat litter and pan
  • Some cleaning music

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