Deep Cleaning A House

rivkadrSeptember 18, 2005

We just closed on our new house, and the house itself is in a bit of a shambles. The sellers were very old, and the relationship between them and us was...problematic. So they didn't bother to do any cleaning before they left, and as they are pretty old and having trouble getting around much, I don't think stuff had been cleaned in a while. We have quite a job in front of us.

We'll be doing a quick steam cleaning of the (very nasty, stained) carpeting so we can live with it for the few weeks until we start installing hardwood. But I'd like suggestions on how to handle certain other sections of the house:

1) Some of the walls are stained by furniture rubbing against it and others are just kind of grungy looking. What is best to use on matte painted walls? This is temporary, because we will be painting them, but I would like to get some of the ingrained dirt off first, since we won't be painting for at least a few weeks.

2) Any ideas of what to use to wash a fireplace made of brick? We'll be painting it soon, but I assume it needs to be washed beforehand.

3) The kitchen cupboards need a good scrubbing on the inside cupboard shelves themselves. Most of the shelves seem to be made of some sort of white pressboard stuff -- what would be good to use on that?

4) One wall of cupboards have some sort of contact paper on the shelves that is godawful ugly, and kind of sticky and nasty with stains and stuff. Is it worth my while to try to pull that up and put down new contact paper, or should I just try to cover the old contact paper with new? I don't think it's likely that I can remove the contact paper and remove the glue used underneath, which is a shame, as I'd rather not have contact paper. If any of you have any suggestions on how to remove the old contact paper and get rid of the glue residue, I'm all ears. Maybe I could remove it, and then just paint over it? The rest of the inside of these cupboards in question are painted white...

If any of you have any suggestions for other things to look for or do while doing a deep cleaning, let me know. I want to start off by having this place as spic and span as possible before moving in.

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Congratulations on your new home. When we bought our house, the owner was a widow who obviously hadn't cleaned in years. The outside was also a shambles, everything overgrown. We took a full week off work to clean house. One day alone I spent cleaning the range hood. I scraped with a one-sided razor blade. The tub had the grungiest ring. And thirty bundles of cuttings from the back yard. We are now in our 50's, no way we'd have the energy to do all that cleaning today. Good luck to you. Oh and for the wall stains, get a Mr. Clean magic eraser. They're great.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 8:08AM
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What's under the carpet? I wonder if you could just haul it outside, clean up whatever is under. Then you could get it out of your house.

You might try the Mr. Clean sponges on the spots on the walls. But if you are going to wash the walls completely before painting, usually people us a trisodium phosphate product (TSP) like Spic n Span. You can see what your paint store recommends. They might also be able to advise you about painting the fireplace.

You'll just have to try to see how that contact paper comes up, maybe using a wide scraper to loosen it as you pull. The surface will probably be difficult to clean, so you might end up putting in fresh contact paper. I don't care for it too much either, but at least it would be clean and it would be YOUR contact paper.

Sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you. Congratulations on your new home. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 8:20PM
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What about some "Goo be Gone" on that grunge under the old contact paper? I think it is available even in grocery stores these days.

As far as deep cleaning, if I were you, I would consider it part of the expense of the buying the house and get one of those steam vapor cleaners. Now is the time. You are not so worried about stripping the paint as much as you are getting it clean. Might even get the goo up. But I don't think you will spend less than $500.00. (Though I see one at this link, awfully cheap, maybe too cheap?)
Best Selling Vapor Steam Cleaners

I'd check if it were me.

Good luck. And let us know how it works out.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 9:15AM
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I like to use lighter fluid or mineral spirits to remove sticky glues. However, I read a hint here about cupboard shelves and love it. Buy the cheapest self sticking floor "tiles" from Home Depot and cover your shelves with it. It is so easy to trim and set. I have always hated doing shelf paper, but this was easy and fun. Makes a durable surface.

Use TSP on that fireplace. Seems like painters use it on everything that needs to be cleaned.

I have used Greased Lightening spray to remove greasy residue. I got it at KMart or the hardware store.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 12:25PM
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Yo can remove old shelf paper with a hot blow dryer. use some garden gloves or an oven mitt, so as to keep the heat from burning or dryig out your fingers. You can also go to a home store and buy brand new, nicely done shelves and have the store cut MDF (medium density fiberboard, comes in neutral colors)to size. The sign at my local store says "a dollar a cut", but they have never charged me over a dollar to do ALL the cuts for me. Buying the new shelves aill save you a TON of time and they'll be all nice, shiny, and new!

I agree with the poster above who suggested removing teh carpet. Better to have no floor covering (especially if the old owners had pets) than to try to clean iccky old carpet.

The Mr. CLean sponges work like a charm on stained paint, but be careful with matte finishes or texture. You may end up taking some paint completely OFF or winding up with crumbles of sponges on your wall (easily vacummed off).

A lemon half sprinkled with kosher salt takes off the scummiest scum in the bath area and cleans shower scum off doors and tiles like nobody's business.

Let any otherr cleaners work for you for a few minutes before tackling the job. Just letting a cleaner sit on a dirty spot for five minutes before scrubbing cuts the job time and elbow grease time in half!

Congrats on your new home. How exciting to be in a place of your very own!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:00PM
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I hear you on the carpet, but what's under it is very old linoleum/vinyl tile -- throughout the entire house. The carpet was glued to the tile in some places, and although the carpet lifts up easily enough, it does leave a sticky residue on the tile. I'm concerned for my pets' health -- I don't want them sticking to it, or possibly licking it. We'll spend the $60 to rent a steam cleaner so that we can make the carpet semi-habitable for the 2 weeks or so until we can start laying the wood floor.

Great ideas -- I'll try removing the contact paper first. If it's a no-go, then I love the idea of putting down the cheap flooring tile :)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 3:37PM
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I am adding that stickdown flooring tile to my shopping list and this is for my OWN house.....the one I have OWNed since it was brand new. I have some spots where this is just the ticket .................after all these many many years!~

thanks so much


    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 1:26PM
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Well, I got very lucky -- I pulled the contact paper up, and the sticky residue was easy to remove. So yay! I'm going to paint over the shelves (which are already painted white). I have a lot of work ahead of me this weekend -- we're cleaning the kitchen, and then painting it :)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 5:24PM
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I recently bought a small hand-held steam cleaner for around $30. With microfibre cloths, I've found it to the BEST thing for cleaning. No chemicals and it gets ghastly things off paintwork etc! Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Just wanted to report back in -- we cleaned the kitchen on Saturday, and it took just about all day! We went through several buckets of Mr. Clean and Pinesol, and half a dozen sponges. We pulled out every shelf and drawer, and scrubbed everything down. There was a fine layer of dirt over every surface, in addition to whatever spills and stains were in the cupboards. Now, a certain amount of dirt is expected when you live in Southern California -- all that smog and bad air leaves a film over everything, but it was pretty obvious that this was several years worth of dusty dirt in some cases. Blech. My husband and I vowed that we would do a deep clean of our kitchen every year from now on. I'm not the tidiest person in the world (nowhere near it!) but it's just hard to believe that someone could live with such grime.

What really creeps me out? Knowing I'm breathing all this smog and dirt in on a daily basis. I'm starting to think that we're going to have to move out of the big city in a few years, for the sake of our health.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 7:25PM
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My congratulations and sympathy!! Sounds like things are going well . . . you brought back memories. For about 7 years we owned 6 rental properties. When we bought them, we deep cleaned and painted each house. Every time a tenant moved out, we deep cleaned and painted the house. I painted one house three times! It was shocking what some people could do to a house in just a couple of years. Anyway, reading your post reminded me how happy I am not to be in that business any more!!!

Enjoy your CLEAN new house!!


    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 9:43PM
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Our house wasn't too bad (we live by the beach in socal) when we moved in, but I know what you mean about the grime here. Our solution for the deep cleaning? Remodel kitchen, new wood flooring in entire house, and paint everything. Now it's all new... for now... THe downside of living so close to salt water is the salty mist gets on everything outside...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 1:32AM
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Congrats on your new home!
It sounds like you are both making great progess.
I would pull the carpet up and try to see if you can use maybe goo gone or an orange extract cleaner to remove the tacky residue. If you're going to put down hardwood you'll have to have the carpet up anyway. Sometimes deep cleaning can't get rid of all of the filth.
Glad to hear you painted the shelves. Roaches can lay eggs under contact paper if there is a loose edge. Learned about roaches from a nasty adjoining neighbor and learned that info from the exterminator. Needless to say I will never use contact paper again.
Magic Erasers are FANTASTIC, but not on matte paint. It will leave spots on the walls. If you're going to repaint and wanting a fresh clean wall, I would use bleach and water and give them a good scrubbing.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 11:43PM
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LOL, this thread brings back memories -- the original post is well over a year old :)

You'll be happy to know that after we deep-cleaned the kitchen, and steamcleaned the carpets, we moved in shortly after that.

We started working on one room at a time. It took us about 6 months total to "finish" the house (it's not completely finished yet, but close enough), which involved ripping up carpet in each room, painting the walls, installing hardwood floor, new base molding, etc. It took us so long because we did it ourselves, only on the weekends, and we're slow and lazy ;)

I can not tell you how disgusting the carpeting was as we ripped it out. Pet stained, full of years worth of dirt, just nasty beyond belief. It was a relief to get it out as we worked through each room.

Having seen how nasty the house was when we moved in, and seeing what slobs some of my friends are, I make it an effort to keep my house tidy and clean. I can't say that I'm always successful, but at the very least, I don't think people recoil in disgust when they walk in. I couldn't bear to have someone think of me the way I think of the person who lived here before me...

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 3:32PM
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This brings up recent happenings for me
My grandparent 90 and 88 always had an immaculate house about 7 years ago my grandmother had bypass surgery and then had a heart attack and has short term memory loss and basically all she does is sleep
my grandfather is getting alzheimers and does not clean anymore
my sister and I cleaned there house while my grandfather was in the hospital last weekend I emptied my vaccuum 6 times and we threw out a bag of garbage, just papers and empty kleenex boxes and I washed and disenfected the floors and the entire bathroom took us all weekend I did not realize it was that bad til I started , you say the people you bought the house from were old maybe 10 years ago it was a showcase, growing up you could eat off my grandmothers floors now she could care less
Its sad and I am not soapboxing just your thread brought this situation to light for me.
Congrats on redoing the house yourself that must feel wonderful

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:41PM
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I'm new to this forum (usually hang out in the Garden or Small Homes), but wanted to thank you, Gardener64, for bringing in a new perspective; and you and your sister are wonderful for cleaning your grandparents' home. In addition to decreased range of motion and energy levels, and other limitations that come with advancing years, many elderly people simply cannot see as well as younger folks! (I'm not there yet, but am beginning to understand what's looming on the horizon in years to come, lol.) When my dad was diagnosed with cataracts several years ago, I learned that they can give everything a yellow cast ... so if laundry comes out a bit dingy, it's not even noticeable, it's just like everything else. And if one needs large print books and a magnifying glass to read the print on medicine and vitamin bottles, it's not likely that smudges, dust and crumbs will be very noticeable.

Rivkadr, what fun it must have been to come back to this thread after several months. Congratulations on making such wonderful progress on your new home; it isn't easy when you're both working and doing it all yourselves ... been there! One word of caution, though: we've been in ours for 30 years now and I've come to the conclusion that houses, like gardens, are never really "finished" ... but then, that's part of the adventure ;-) Much happiness to you in your home; everyone's different, but I can't help but think you'll feel more pride and satisfaction, knowing you did it yourselves.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 9:54PM
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I can fully understand why the house got the way it was, and I have sympathy for the elderly woman and the dire straights she must have been in with declining health. What I don't have sympathy for is that she left it for us to clean up. She should have hired someone to clean the house before we moved in, if she couldn't get it into presentable shape herself (i.e. the standard is broomclean -- it was nowhere near that). She made more than half a million dollars off the sale, so it's the least she could have done. I try not to get grumpy about it...looks great now, but the first thing you DON'T want to have to do when moving into a house is clean the heck out of it (light cleaning, sure -- deep scrubbing, no). If we'd had more money, we'd have hired someone ourselves, but we were stretched as it was. Ah well. All in the past now.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 6:46PM
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I would suggest bleach to clean and dissolve stains and to sanitize things. Vinegar works great on windows, I find it works better then windex.. also Im a huge fan of Magic Erasers.. they work great and I recommend them to everyone. Also when I steam clean or shampoo my carpets, which I have my own steam cleaner/shampooer, I usually do the carpet twice about once a month. When Im done shampooing I will add a small amount of fabric softner and go over the carpets again. I dont think this is recommended for use in most carpet cleaners, but so far it hasnt done any damage to mine. I makes ur carpet soft and fresh smelling. I've also learned from a friend of mine that if you place a apple or onion cut in half in corners of the room for a couple of days they will absorb odors.. not sure on the results bc ive never tried it myself. I use baking soda hidden behind furniture to absorb odors. Im also a big fan of using pin-sol to clean and disenfect and get rid of odors. I also use fabreeze on furniture and curtins, One trick that I have also learned is that if u put a dryer sheet on your air conditioner filter, it freshens ur house also. They tend to not last long but changing them every 3 or 4 days helps keep a fresh smell thru out your house. Good Luck on ur new house.. it may take awhile to get it all cleaned but when ur done.. it will all be well worth it..

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 9:39PM
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I once rent3ed a house that belonged to a woman 103 years old. She had finally given up the idea of living alone and taking care of a house. She moved in with her daughter. The house was very dirty, a greasy yellow film everywhere. The old woman had poor eyesight and didn't see the film at all. It took me a long time to clean up, but after I did I enjoyed living in "my" place. I cleaned, scraped, painted everything. Lots of Top Job is what I remember using. I stayed there 2 or three years, aqnd I maintained by cleaning everything fully on Thursdays. I even washed the phone! The woman died and the family decided to sell the house and I had to move out. It wasn't very big and it had some leaks in the roof, but I have fond memories of "my first place".

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 10:38AM
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The young mothers in my neighborhood got together on a Saturday morning and cleaned an elderly neighbor's home for her. The lady had been in the hospital, but her mobility had been declining for a while before that. They did this a couple of times, a few months apart. Eventually, the lady had to get full-time home help, and her helpers have made the entire house "spit spot" clean, little by little, over the past year. It's a very happy ending, as my friend has really blossomed with their care. I don't know if she could have bridged that year between her hospitalization and the home helpers, if the neighborhood had not pitched in.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 12:19PM
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My all time fav for almost ALL cleaning jobs is amonia. I know w/all the craze of "safe" product" it sounds a bit harsh, but I'm telling you it is the only all purpose cleaner that works on almost anything you need to come "clean". It works on grease around the stove/oven and cupboards, it will work on the sticky stuff from contact paper, (I use a heat gun to help release the bulk of it, then clean up residue with amonia). I use it on bathroom fixtures, even shower doors. It does smell, but theres a reason it has been around for so long, simply put it works. And takes a lot of the "work" out of most projects if you let it set for a while.

I clean houses for a living, (thus the name)and I use it in all my clients homes. It is the absolute best for cig smoke on walls.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:59AM
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You mentioned a fireplace. Be sure to have a certified chimney sweep clean your chimney. He will also check for cracks in the chimney which could cause a house fire. If you have central AC, it is well worth the price to have the ducts professionally cleaned. Several years ago I moved into a rental and made a deal with the landlord to split the cost of the duct cleaning.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 8:53PM
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I agree with Maidinmontana. Ammonia is the greeatest all-round cleaner. Grease, bathrooms, and it's tops for mirrors and windows (dilute with water & put in a spray bottle.). Be careful, it smells awful. the only thing I don't use it for is my laundry.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 12:04PM
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I just came across this post, and it's timely -- I'm moving into my first home this month.

Mine's not bad -- the young woman who owned it just moved out several months earlier -- but there's still plenty of cleaning to do!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 3:13PM
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My daughter recently started a job as a maid. She told me they use Windex on everything. Windex is mostly ammonia, plus color and scent.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 10:30AM
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I absolutely love this thread. When we bought our house in 1981, the previous owner left it a mess. Oh, she did scrub out the tub. But not the floors or range or anything else for that matter. The bathroom walls had disgusting tobacco stains-her husband was a smoker and died of lung cancer. Hubs and I took a full week off from work to clean it. I remember spending most of one day scrubbing the range hood fan-disgusting grease from previous (original) owner. And she haggled with us over the last hundred dollars of the sale price. She "left" us her washing machine and dryer and wanted an extra hundred before we moved in. We told her at the closing meeting, take them out or we will charge YOU a fee of one hundred dollars to haul them away. Turned out she left them and we didn't give her the extra money and they both worked for about five years. The dryer was a "Speed Queen" commercial dryer and actually worked very well. And the back yard was a mess too. We spent most of the summer trimming back her grossly overgrown bushes. Took 30 bundles of sticks and branches out. And it turned out the previous owner moved to Arizona, hated the heat and was back a year later. She moved in with her sister and we "heard" thru connections that she was sorry she sold the house to us. But we spent most of that first year making the house habitable. And clean. Really clean.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 8:09AM
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If you need a good cleaning of your house, and you really want advice (bye,bye Spammers) look in the phone book for "Serv Pro". They are a national corporation that does disaster cleaning, like after fires and floods. They were recommended to us by Allstate Insurance after a kitchen fire. They send a crew in with heavy duty vacuums and carpet cleaners. They did a great job for us. I'm not affiliated with this company and I'm not a Spammer. Just giving my limited experience.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 8:27AM
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Deep cleaning is a top to bottom, thorough and complete cleaning which you can follow up with standard or more routine cleaning tasks deep cleaning entails moving all your knickknacks and moving the furniture to clean under it. Everything is touched, all the way from the top of the ceiling, down to the baseboards and the floor. Everything from the top to bottom and in between is scrubbed until it is free of dirt and dust and shines like new. Even the most-cared-for home needs an occasional deep-cleaning, so here's a simple list to help you get your home in tip-top shape.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 6:41AM
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