What To Know About Basement Cleaning

A dirty basement means a dirty house. Clean your basement regularly to keep your home free from grunge, grime and allergens.

When was the last time you cleaned your basement? That long ago, huh?

If you’re like me, cleaning your basement falls way down to the bottom of the to-do list. Or, at least it did when I had one. Unless we had a flood or a repair service had to come out( in that case, here is your guide to remove water from a flooded room), I never bothered. Out of sight, out of mind.

“Basements are often overlooked, but they play a significant role in your home’s overall cleanliness and health,” says professional home cleaner Andrii Gurskyi, co-founder of New York City maid service HomeClean. It’s important not to forget about them. Mold spores and dust can migrate upstairs on air currents, and dirty basements can harbor pests.

Gurskyi walks us through the basics below. And, he adds, always be on the lookout for mold, moisture and other potential dangers.

“Older homes may contain asbestos in insulation, tiles, or other materials,” Gurskyi says. “If you suspect asbestos, contact a professional for testing and removal. Disturbing asbestos-containing materials without proper training and equipment can release dangerous fibers into the air.”

How Often Should You Clean Your Basement?

It depends on whether your basement is finished or unfinished.

“Since finished basements are integrated living spaces, they require the same attention as other areas of your home,” Gurskyi says. That means cleaning them weekly at least. Pay particular attention to flooring, high-touch surfaces, and couches and other soft furnishings that can harbor food crumbs, dust and pet hair.

Unfinished basements don’t require as much attention, but Gurskyi still recommends cleaning them monthly. “Regular cleaning prevents dust, debris and allergen buildup, contributing to a healthier home environment,” Gurskyi says.

If you’re using your unfinished basement as a workspace, or you often go downstairs to access storage, you may want to clean it more frequently.

What You Need To Clean Your Basement

Many of the same cleaning supplies you use upstairs — like microfiber cloths, cleaners and sanitizers — can pull double duty in your basement. But Gurskyi recommends a few basement-specific tools to make the task more efficient and effective:

  • A high-quality shop vacuum for heavy-duty cleaning. Look for a model with a wet/dry function and a HEPA filter.
  • An air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens, dust and mold spores. Size it right for the space. Consider additional features like UV-C light for enhanced germ-killing capabilities.
  • A durable scrub brush with an extendable handle for reaching high or hard-to-clean areas. Opt for stiff bristles for scrubbing stubborn grime, and soft bristles for delicate surfaces.
  • A dehumidifier with a built-in hygrometer to monitor and control humidity levels. Make sure it’s the right size and comes with an auto-shutoff feature. For best results, regularly empty the reservoir and clean the filter.

Quick Basement Cleaning Chores

For regular weekly or monthly maintenance, treat your basement like the rest of your house. That means cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, vacuuming and doing all the basic cleaning chores you’re accustomed to upstairs.

Here are the specifics, according to Gurskyi:

  • Vacuum: Use a HEPA-filter vacuum to clean carpeted floors and furniture. Use the vacuum wand to reach into corners where cobwebs and dirt settle.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces: Wipe down countertops, light switches, doorknobs, stair rails and any other high-touch surface with a microfiber cloth and disinfecting cleaner.
  • Dust: Remove dust from surfaces like light fixtures, plants, windowsills and walls. Microfiber cloths work better than traditional dusters at trapping and removing tiny dust particles.
  • Mop the floor: If you have a concrete basement floor, choose a cleaner recommended for concrete, or use soap and water and rinse well.

Basement Deep Cleaning Tasks

Twice a year, give your basement a deep clean. Besides getting rid of hidden grime and dust, it gives you a chance to inspect areas you don’t often see. Basements tend to be damp and musty, so if you’ve got mold or pests hiding in dark corners, deep cleaning lets you recognize and take care of the problem before it grows.

  • Clean behind furniture and appliances: Pull everything away from the walls and vacuum underneath with a HEPA-filtered vacuum. Clean newly exposed surfaces with an all-purpose disinfecting cleaner.
  • Wash walls and baseboards: Use a mild detergent and water for general cleaning, or choose a specialty cleaner for concrete and wood surfaces.
  • Clean and inspect air vents: Dust the vents and vacuum reachable areas of your ductwork. A professional duct cleaner can be brought in every few years.
  • Organize and declutter: Get rid of damaged or moldy items, or things you just don’t use anymore. Sort and organize your stuff into bins and label the outsides for easy access.

Basement Cleaning Services

For everyday dirt and grime, you can probably handle the job yourself. If you see any of the following problems, Gurskyi says, think about enlisting a pro:

  • Standing water, flooding and damage from leaks: Water restoration and cleaning companies can remove large amounts of water, dry and sanitize your basement.
  • Persistent musty odors: Can’t figure out where that awful smell is coming from? An air quality expert may be needed to diagnose the problem and offer cleaning solutions.
  • Significant mold growth: Cleaning mold and mildew yourself is DIY-able, especially if it’s contained to a small area, but call in a pro if you’re not comfortable.

Ally Childress
Ally Childress is a licensed electrician and freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas.