Basements are probably the only spaces which tend to be completely different from the rest of the areas of our homes. Cleaning a basement, especially a dirty one, can be quite a task. However, the problems may be more mental in nature.
Basement cleaning is actually quite straightforward, if you keep some basic stuff in mind.
Basement floors are usually made of concrete. The difference with concrete is that it is pretty tough and does not need special care such as carpeting, hardwood, or tile. Also, concrete is not absorbent, so you don’t have to be afraid of damaging it permanently with cleaners.
The one thing about basements is that they are basements!
- They are located under the house, where the light is low and the humidity high.
- We tend to be more rough and casual with using basement floors than the rest of our homes. Pet owners usually don’t mind the pets messing around down there either.
- A lot of general “stuff” we don’t want to throw away ends up there.
- Basements tend to be musty and smelly because of low ventilation and air exhaust.
- Mold and mildew love basements!
Here are a few basic steps to follow to keep your basement floor sparkly clean:
- Brush or broom away loose debris and dirt. If your basement floor is fairly flat, you can use a vacuum without too much trouble.
- Use soap and water and mop away. Wring out the mop well before mopping to prevent excess water from pooling. Lysol or bleach work well to get rid of mold, mildew and tough stains.
- Ammonia solutions are stronger than bleach in tackling disinfection jobs and tough stains. Be careful of the fumes, and never mix ammonia and bleach!
- If there are smells to get rid of, sprinkle bleaching powder and let it do its thing for an hour or two, then mop up. For stronger smells, leave on for longer.
- Tough stains such as rust or grease can be gotten rid of by a tough bristled-brush. Avoid metal bristles because they can scratch concrete and contribute to rust stains. Difficult rust stains need oxalic acid, a rust remover.
- Using a garden hose or a low-power washer will work well if mopping does not do the job. Letting water pool up is not a good idea, so mopping it up with a hand mop or a vacuum is a good idea.
- Air out the basement by opening windows or any other access doors. Use a dehumidifier or an exhaust fan helps too.
- Use paint or another type of concrete sealer to finish the surface. If you already have one, ensure it is intact and reapply if needed. This helps to both prevent stains from forming, and makes it easier to clean. Use of sealers or paints with chemical additives can dissuade the growth of mold and mildew. If you are painting for the first time, using an acid like muriatic acid or phosphoric acid to make the surface rough, helps the sealer to hold better.
- Trisodium phosphate or TSP, is an additive that helps get rid of some really difficult greasy stains.
- All of the methods apply to basement walls too, provided they are made of concrete as well.
Remember, safety first! Some of the chemicals used for basement cleaning can be nasty, so gloves and face masks are important.