Dust. Rafters. Cobwebs. Rodents. Just the words associated with attics make them seem daunting and a little scary. But an unfinished attic can be a great storage space while a finished attic can double as studio, office, or guestroom. The trick is to get the attic clean and keep it that way.
- Light It Up: First order of business is seeing what’s what. Most attics are lit by a single dim bulb swinging from a roof rafter. Bring up a shop light or any other bright lamp so you can inspect the dank corners, check for pest droppings, and take note of where you need to clean.
- Dust and Vacuum: Make sure you have an air filtration dust mask and put it on. Use the vacuum cleaner to bring down cobwebs and suck up dust. If your attic is unfinished be careful not to poke holes in the insulation. Avoid stepping between the rafters as your foot could go right through the ceiling below.
- Get Rid of the Junk: Chances are there are unmarked boxes in your attic that haven’t been opened in years. With these items you might be unwittingly inviting cockroaches, rats and other pests into your attic. These critters love nothing more than to gnaw on cardboard boxes, old books and magazines, leather, furs, and even soap. Set aside an entire day to rid your attic of stuff you haven’t used in past 12 to 24 months.
- Once you’ve separated your attic items into “keep” and “toss” piles, organize and store your keepers in a practical, accessible way. If you have important legal papers in the attic, they should be stored in a fire-proof box. Clear plastic bins are pest-proof and allow you to see the contents. Make labels for the bins. When new items are added to the attic, they can be immediately placed in the appropriate boxes rather than left on the floor.
- What Not to Store: Attics can be 40 degrees hotter in the summer and much colder in the winter. Don’t use attics to store electronics, delicate fabrics, photographs, or heat sensitive items.