How to clean an unoccupied property

Have you ever been inside a neglected or misused property and felt the itching desire to get your marigolds on and give it a thorough clean?

When you inherit or buy a vacant property, your urge to give it a deep clean can be even more overpowering. It can also be the first, vital step to renovating it and turning it not just habitable, but attractive!

Where to start with cleaning an unoccupied property

The chances are that the tasks before you are a little overwhelming. Particularly if you didn’t plan to spend your time clearing and cleaning a vacant home.

It could be an even more unpleasant project if you have bought a house or flat to ‘do up’ and someone has left the premises in an unruly state.

The first step is to put down your cleaning equipment and pick up a notebook and pen. Breaking the work down into a strategic ‘to do’ list can make it feel far less daunting. It can also ensure that you complete the tasks in the right order.

With a badly neglected home, making sure one task is completed before moving on to the next one, such as putting out protective covers before harsh chemicals are used, is usually the most practical and logical place to start.

The general rule of thumb is to start in one room and clean it from ceiling to floor. Then, gradually move from room to room until the whole house is fit for purpose.

For a DIY deep clean of a vacant property, your plan should include a full list of equipment, tools and substances you will need.

Being strategic avoids duplicating purchases, hiring items for longer than needed, or finding yourself delayed due to lack of an essential item. It also enables you to decide which cleaning products to bulk buy to save money - and which ones to use frugally, to avoid waste.

Whether you are doing the work yourself or bringing in a specialist clean-up crew, give some consideration to eco-friendly cleaning products. There are growing options of sustainable and environmentally friendly products and techniques for home cleaning purposes.

The advantages to quick clean ups

If cleaning an empty property involves a massive list of chores and considerable expense, it’s tempting to put some projects off for as long as possible. You may decide to clean gradually as time and money become available. Keep in mind though, that giving your vacant building a thorough and swift ‘once over’ could prove beneficial.

For one thing, clearing away debris and shifting the initial layers of dirt enables you to get a clearer picture of what needs doing. Once rooms are at least superficially clean, you will be able to spot any previously hidden structural issues such as damp or items such as window frames that may need to be replaced.

In some instances, the longer you leave the clean-up, the more trouble you’ll end up in. As what could appear to be a dirty wall could be mould caused by penetrating damp or bad ventilation. The longer you leave it, the more damage you will have to repair later.

Are there home insurance ramifications?

Owning and renovating empty homes always requires specialist unoccupied insurance cover. These policies are designed to respond to the particular issues and risks involved when you are mothballing a building or undertaking the cleaning work to make it usable again.

So, for example, you can add in specialist liability cover for clean-up crews and other tradespeople working on the premises. This could also include cover for grounds staff and landscapers who might restore the property’s exterior.