Cleaning an Old House


Step one: Get rid of your husband, kids, and pets! Just kidding…keep them around, maybe they can help!

I have an old house, almost 100 years old, and it comes with it’s own challenges, when it comes to keeping it clean. Joanna Gaines would LOVE my house, because every wall and ceiling is made of shiplap! If you are familiar with the show “Fixer Upper”, then you know what I am talking about. Shiplap is very long, wide planks of wood that came from – you know it…ships. This material was used in the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s to build homes, and let me tell you – this stuff is tough! I don’t have to worry about finding a stud to mount anything on a wall, because the entire wall is practically a stud!

One of the first things I did, after moving in, is to remove the old ceiling tiles, and expose the shiplap, with the intentions of replacing it with something else, maybe the old ceiling tins, or something cool like that, but when I saw the beautiful wood grains, and rich color, I couldn’t bring myself to cover it up!

So in removing all of the old cloth like wallpaper that covered the ceiling, and walls, it looked like the scene from a movie where you see the aftermath of an explosion, with the piles of debri, and dust floating in the air! And in the middle of doing this demolition, I’m on a ladder pulling this stuff off the ceiling, when my neighbor comes to my door, telling me that my seven year old son has hurt himself, so I drop everything, and run down the sidewalk, looking like the victim from a movie, who has survived! Looking back on that day, it’s no wonder everyone was looking at me strangely! Long story short: he had fallen off his bike, and the peddle landed across his shin, breaking it, so I had to run him to the emergency room, looking more like the injured than he did!

Anyway, getting back to the point of this post…cleaning an older home just isn’t the same as cleaning a newer home, because they aren’t as air tight as a newer home, so your cleaning efforts don’t last as long. Dust will be your arch nemesis, that you will come to loath!

Step two: Start from the top. Clean the ceiling fans first, if you have them, most of us normal people do, even though the designers on TV don’t like to include them, because it ruins the effect, or some sort of bologna. I came home the other day, and the ceiling fan was off, and I told my husband “Never turn these off! When you do that, I can see how dirty they are!”. The ceiling fans are what causes a large part of the dust, that and the drafty windows and doors, us tracking the outside in, and pets. So starting from the top will eliminate some of the cause, and if you can be diligent in keeping the ceiling fans clean, it will cut down on the daily dust buildup.

Step three: If you have hardwood floors, invest in a dust mop, this will help with the quick sweep around the house, when you don’t have the time to vacuum, or sweep and mop. I use a vacuum, because with the real wood floors in an old house, there are gaps between the planks that hold a lot of dust, and just sweeping will not get that. I also use a product for my wood floors called Rejuvenate and it works great to cover scratches, and gives it a nice shine. Rejuvenate has a cleaning spray, and a liquid restoring solution for when the floors need a freshening. There are several other products that say they do what Rejuvenate does, but in my experiences, nothing has worked as well, and I have tried quite a few

Step four: Dusting..ugh! I feel like this is an Olympic event that I am training for, and will never be ready to compete! Swiffer is my best friend for a daily dusting, but once a week, or so, you will need to do a real dusting that includes using a polish, or just good old fashion water, depending on what you are cleaning. There are some great cleaning clothes out there, that will do specific jobs, and these work great – the fabric holds in the dust and grime, instead of just moving it around.

Step five: The porcelain fixtures, specifically the toilet, and tubs. Old houses have old galvanized plumbing, unless you have replaced it all, and with that you get rust in the pipes, so this will cause a unique cleaning situation, in that some of your common toilet bowl cleaners will not work. I found this amazing product called Zep Commercial Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 32 Ounce“>Zep, and it comes in different types, for different cleaning needs. I use the Zep Commercial Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 32 Ounce“>Zep Toilet Bowl Cleaner, it works great to get that rust and hard water that accumulates just under the bowl edge, where you have to look under the rim to see. I know what all of the minimalist are thinking, and I have tried the “green” cleaning products, but haven’t found one with the strength to get those pesky stains. Just be sure to use gloves, and that you are locking this product away from children, and pets, because it is strong!

So to wrap this up; I love my old house, and all of the annoying things that come with owning it, you will spend more time cleaning here, than you would in a newly built home, but the trade-off is the character, and history that the old house has, cannot be recreated, it just has to happen naturally.

Happy cleaning!


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