Recently I had to clean out and make ready for sale my parent’s house. It was an old house with an attic and a basement. It was stuffed with papers and knickknacks and furniture and clothes and all the things that go with living in a house for over 30 years. Circumstances meant I needed to do it all pretty much by myself. I suffer not only from arthritis but C.O.P.D. in the form of severe asthma. Needless to say it was a challenge.
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My brother had been suffering from a bowel obstruction. When he fell in the bathroom he was on the floor for three days before someone found him. That meant I had a mess of feces and blood that was wall to wall as well as in his room, the hallway, and the family room. I needed strong disinfectant. I also made sure I had gloves and masks on at all times. I wore clothes that could immediately be thrown in the washer. I started my way from the front corner and worked my way back to the door. I cleaned a small section at a time while kneeling on a piece of disposable plastic. I cleaned and rinsed until that section was completely cleaned dumping the water after every section and cleaning the bucket. I worked slowly and took breaks going outside so I could breath clean fume free air. In the end I threw away the bucket, all the rags, and the scrub brush.
Because of the amount of dust in the house I made sure that gloves and masks were worn no matter where I was cleaning. I used thick black garbage bags to hold old papers and things that were to be thrown out. I used a great deal of Lysol and Clorox wet wipes to keep down the amount of dust in the air. I used the Swifter wet mop to wash down the floors.
The old house had problems with mice. I found numerous spilled boxes of rat poison. I carefully wiped that up with wet cloths so that it wouldn’t get in the air. I found using wet things kept dust at a tolerable level. I vacuumed using a Hoover with Hepa filter.
There were many crawl spaces that had stuff in them. Some of them had rat droppings. I made sure to wipe everything off as I pulled it out and put nothing down on the floor until it was clean.
The basement was the biggest problem because it hadn’t been swept in 30 years or at least it felt that way. Even with a mask I still had problems with the dust getting in my lungs.
I found that the essential things in cleaning an old house were masks, gloves, wet wipes, wet mops, sweepers with Hepa filters, long sleeve clothes, and long pants. Shoes that are comfortable and can be wiped down are a must. Take frequent breaks. Take hot steamy showers to get moisture into the breathing passages and help get out the dust. If you start hurting too much you need to stop for the day. It will still be there tomorrow. Keep in mind that it will get done and there will be an end no matter how daunting it looks when you start.