If you’ve been living with builders in your house, you know how destructive construction work can be. Even when everything goes according to plan and your tradesmen are as tidy as possible, dust and dirt are inevitable. With post-construction cleanup comes specialized cleaning requirements. Brick or drywall dust can damage your home if not cleaned properly, and some construction debris can be hazardous to your health.
Pro Housekeepers are experts at post-construction cleanups. Whether you’ve finished remodeling, are at the end of an insurance claim, or got carried away with the DIY, our post-construction cleaning tips will help you get your house back in order again so you can enjoy its new look.
Before You Begin
Try to get the area as dust-free as possible before you start cleaning intensively. Not only will this make your final task easier, it’s safer to avoid breathing in a lot of dust or debris. Seal off any rooms that aren’t affected using plastic sheeting available from most hardware stores, and use masking tape (also known as painter’s tape) to secure the plastic to your walls and doors without causing lasting damage. Don’t forget to block vents and openings with more plastic sheeting to protect your HVAC system.
Always start from the farthest point from your front door and work out. That way you won’t be tracking more dirt through rooms you’ve already cleaned. For a first pass, get a soft-bristled broom and sweep each room as clean as you can. Even sweep the ceiling and walls to get all the loose debris, and brush toward the center of the room. If the dust is particularly bad, wear a good quality dust mask while you work. Lightly spraying the dust with water can make it easier to sweep.
Pro Tip: A wet/dry vacuum is great for picking up loose dust, or if the dust is really bad look for sweeping compounds at the local hardware store. These are sawdust-like mixtures used to bind the dust and make cleaning a breeze.
After most construction work, fine dust will be your biggest problem. Even when taking all the proper precautions, this kind of dust is almost impossible to completely contain. Unfortunately, it can cause damage if it clogs your HVAC system or gets into electronics.
The best way to clean fine dust is to use a damp microfiber cloth. If you get the dust too wet it will turn to mud rather than sticking to the cloth, so make sure to wring it out until it’s barely damp. You just want to pick up the dust with the cloth, not soak it. This is a process you’ll have to repeat on every surface, including floors and walls.
Wash the cloth between each pass and change out the water you’re using once it turns cloudy to prevent reapplying wet dust to areas you think you’ve cleaned. Then let the area dry thoroughly and use a vacuum with a brush attachment to get any remaining dust. Finally, spot clean with a damp cloth and give the walls and floor a final wipe down.
Pro Tip:If you have fine dust on a carpeted floor, rent a wet/dry vacuum from your local hardware store. Getting a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter will ensure it removes as much dust as possible.
Drywall and Plaster Dust
Drywall or plaster dust offers its own unique challenges to cleaners. If you get this dust too wet, you risk forming plaster and staining or damaging the surfaces of your house. If you suspect there’s plaster in the dust you’re trying to clean, follow these tips to minimize the risk of damage.
Make a cleaning solution by adding two cups of white vinegar to a gallon of warm water. Sponge mop a small area with as little water as possible and immediately dry completely with a towel. It may take several applications to get all the dust up and remove any white residue or dullness from wooden or tiled surfaces. Switch out the water and vinegar solution once it becomes cloudy to prevent recontamination.
Pro Tip: To save your water and vinegar solution, have a bucket of clean water and use that to rinse out the plaster dust from your mop or sponge. Also change out the towel you’re using once it becomes too damp to dry effectively.
Brick and Mortar Dust
Brick dust tends to be heavier than other dusts, which can make it tricky to clean up. To start, use the nozzle on a powerful vacuum to suck up as much dust and debris as you can. Then dilute 1.5 cups of hydrogen peroxide in one gallon of water and use soft cotton rags to wipe dust off hard surfaces.
On soft surfaces such as carpet you’ll need to use a stiff-bristled brush and scrub the dust. Never get brick dust wet on a soft surface, because it will lead to staining. Scrub the dust loose and then vacuum up the excess.
Pro Tip: Used dryer sheets make great dust collectors. Simply run them along dusty surfaces and throw them away once they’re full.
Spackling paste is putty commonly used to fill small holes, cracks and surface defects in plaster, drywall and wood. Its versatile nature makes it popular with DIYers and professional renovators alike and cleaning dried-on spackling paste is common during post-construction cleans. How you can clean spackling depends on the surface it’s on.
As a first step, wipe away as much paste as possible. Use a damp sponge and clean with a dry towel. If there’s any white residue remaining, sponge clean until it all comes off.
If you still have spackling dried onto the tiles that won’t come off with a damp sponge, try to scrape off as much as possible using a plastic putty knife so you don’t damage the tiles. Then cover the remaining spackling with a damp towel and allow it to soften until it will scrape up. Then sponge clean until the stains have gone.
Wooden surfaces are much more prone to water damage than tile, so you need to keep them as dry as possible. Wipe up any wet spackling with a dry towel and use window cleaner or white vinegar sparingly on the residue.
If the spackling is completely dried on, use wood oil to soften it until it can be scraped up with a plastic putty knife.
Don’t try to wipe up spackling paste from carpet because it will only create more damage. Instead, leave the paste to dry completely and start cleaning by breaking off and vacuuming as much of the spackling as possible. Then spray the spackling with carpet cleaner and blot with paper towels.
House renovations can be exciting but also testing times. You want to reclaim your home and enjoy the changes, but post-construction cleanups can take a long time and become a real headache.
At Pro Housekeepers, we’re experts at cleaning up after builders and DIYers. Leave the stress of construction behind by calling in our team of friendly cleaning professionals. Our transparent pricing means no hidden surprises and we’re even available for same day appointments to have your home cleaned in no time at all. Give Pro Housekeepers a call and let us take care of all your post-construction cleaning needs today.