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How to Clean Your Basement and Keep it Clean All Year Long

Basements are low on the list of cleaning priorities. They’re usually used for storage and laundry, and that’s about it. So, we shouldn’t have to clean them, right? Well, that’s not necessarily true. Every room in your home needs to be cleaned from time to time, no matter how often you use it (yes, the garage counts, too). Everyone’s basement or storage area is different, so as you pick your basement cleaning tasks, we suggest using this post as a guide to create your own basement cleaning checklist.

If you’re reading this, you’re already a step ahead of many people needing to clean their basement. You’re showing interest in actually getting your basement or storage space organized, so kudos. We’ve found one of the best times to clean and organize basements is in January. During this time, a lot of people are putting away holiday decorations. And not only are you already in and out of the basement during this time, but you’re most likely also stuck inside because of the weather. For us, being stuck in the house can result in some serious cabin fever, so let’s channel that energy into something super productive!

We focus our cleaning efforts on the rest of the house throughout the year and often times use the basement as a catchall for things that we don’t know what to do with – that whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. This makes it easy to have a love hate relationship with this space. On the one hand, it’s a convenient location to store seasonal decorations, clothes, suitcases, memory boxes, and a whole lot of other things. On the other hand, the basement is hands down always one of the most disorganized areas of our house. Even if you have a finished basement, chances are there’s a storage room that can get disorganized fast.


The first thing you need to do when cleaning your basement is come up with a plan. Basements and storage areas are big, dark, damp, and sometimes scary – remember the scene from Home Alone when Kevin McAllister has the run in with the furnace? We rest our case. It can easily take the whole day to clean them, if you’re not strategic about it. The easiest way we’ve found to clean a basement is to start by going through all those storage boxes. Decide what you want to keep, what you want to toss and what you want to donate. Put everything in piles instead of walking up and down the stairs each time you want to throw something away, and don’t be afraid to pack it in your car to take to the donation center. As you’re going through your things, really think about what you’re keeping and why – if you don’t need it, maybe someone else does.

Once you’ve gone through your storage bins, now the cleaning can begin. Gather your basement cleaning supplies and consider adding a MultiClean® Wet and Dry Auto Vac to your arsenal. It will work on your basement floor, carpeted or cement (or other hard surface), plus you can use it to clean up wet and dry messes. The attachments are great for cleaning above the floor areas in the basement, too. And speaking of concrete floors, we wrote a whole post about cleaning them and we think it’ll be useful while cleaning your basement.

Once you’ve vacuumed, now you’re in the home stretch. It’s time to organize everything you’ve decided to keep. We recommend using storage tubs to help keep your basement organized. Since you already went through and purged items from those tubs, this last step should be easy. A label maker or a good old-fashioned pack of stick-on labels and a permanent marker will come in handy. Create a system to label the content of the boxes. There will be obvious categories, like holidays, but even for those it helps to go into a bit more detail about what’s in each box. For example, knowing which box holds your costumes and which holds your spooky Halloween decorations will be helpful when it comes time to unpack and decorate. For boxes that hold miscellaneous items, don’t be afraid to label the box as such. You can use bullets to list off a few major items inside to help next time you’re looking for old family photos or some craft supplies. Once everything is labeled, stack the boxes according to season. It may seem a bit excessive, but taking the extra time to organize will pay off all year long.

If you have your laundry in your basement, this is also a good time to wash your washing machine and dryer. The biggest messes we see with the laundry machines is detergent buildup and lint around the dryer. Steam mops, like the PowerFresh® Slim Heavy Duty Steam Mop, convert to a handheld steam mop and come with several attachments that make steam cleaning appliances easy. Cleaning the lint around your dryer should also be done a lot more often than a yearly basement cleaning. If you don’t keep up with emptying the lint trap, there is a risk of starting a fire. A good habit to get into early is cleaning the lint trap each time you put a new load of laundry in the dryer. Then, when you’re vacuuming your basement, use your vacuum’s attachments to clean lint that may be stuck in the lint trap or may have fallen between the machine and the wall – forewarning, you may be surprised what’s built up back there.

Hopefully these cleaning tips make your basement seem less scary and a whole lot more clean and organized. Remember to use them as a guide to create a basement cleaning checklist that works for your home. Happy cleaning!

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