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How to Clean Out Your Attic

If even the bats are intimidated by the clutter in your attic, it’s time to tackle the mess.


  • Step 1: Review Empty the contents of every box and bag in your attic. Put aside anything you can’t imagine you’ll ever again use, need, or want.
  • TIP: Before you throw out anything that is really old—a postcard, fishing gear, toy trains—check on the internet to make sure you’re not tossing a valuable collectible.
  • Step 2: Keep a list As you are taking inventory of what’s in the attic, have a clipboard handy so you can list what items you are storing in the attic and where they are located.
  • Step 3: Know your do’s and don’ts Know the do’s and don’ts of attic storage. Do store dishes, pottery, holiday decorations, clothes, and housewares. Don’t store blankets, stuffed animals, leather goods, fur, or suede, which can be damaged by extreme temperatures.
  • Step 4: Repack Repack boxes, making sure things are clean before you put them away. Mark each box with a label that lists the contents.
  • Step 5: Make a clean sweep Now that there’s room to maneuver, vacuum and dust the attic.
  • TIP: Now is a good time to tend to your smoke detectors. Change their batteries and gently vacuum them to clear out dust, which affects their sensitivity.
  • Step 6: Regroup When putting things back, keep like things together—such as your carton of Christmas ornaments and the box with the fake tree.
  • TIP: Old kitchen cupboards are great for storing things in an attic.
  • Step 7: Mark your calendar Mark your calendar so you remember to check the attic for leaks and other problems every six months. Doing it on the day of the daylight savings switch is a good way to remember.
  • FACT: On an episode of Antiques Roadshow, a man came in with a painting he had almost stepped on in a relative’s attic—it turned out to be worth $150,000!

You Will Need

  • A clipboard
  • Labels
  • A marker
  • A vacuum
  • A dust cloth
  • Batteries
  • Old cupboards

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