Keeping Your Basement Clean and Pest Free

Keeping Your Basement Clean and Pest Free
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When you live in an older home, basements can be a challenge. Not only can they be damp and dusty, but they can harbor hidden dangers such a dead rodents, which can be diseased, or mold that family members may be allergic to. Always wear gloves and a mask when cleaning a basement that has either of these problems. If using a vacuum, empty it outside, still wearing a mask, and place the bag directly into a trash bag, tie and put in the trash container immediately.

You can mop or wash down concrete floors and walls with a solution of bleach and water (3/4 cup chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water) Allow the bleach solution to sit for 5 minutes, then rinse and dry. You can put a fan in front of the area to dry if you wish. Always wear rubber gloves when working with bleach or even vinegar solutions.

If you have a section of carpet that has mold or mildew you can clean the BACK of the carpet with one part hydrogen peroxide to 5 parts water. IF you can remove the carpet, then place it outside in the sun to dry. If not, prop the section up and place a fan to blow on the area til it's dry.

If you have mold or mildew ON basement walls you can try using one of these solutions to clean, but you must also find a way to remove the moisture from the area---fans to circulate the air or a dehumidifier---open windows if you can.

First solution: Straight vinegar sprayed on the walls! Don't rinse, just air it to dry and the smell will fade.

Second solution: Mix 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups very hot water, 1/2 cup salt, and 2 cups borax. I use a bucket for this type of thing. Apply solution to area and allow it to sit for 30-minutes. Apply the solution again, scrubbing with a soft bristled brush and rinse well.


Though most of us will find harmless spiders in the hidden areas of our basements there are occasionally the not so friendly variety. Lori asked for some tips on eliminating the spiders. As you all know, chemicals make me nervous so I try everything else first.

-First, they like quiet areas, so sweep often where you can-- on the floors, walls etc. Disturb them enough and they may go elsewhere. Sweep outside the house around the foundation too or spray off with a hose.

-Eliminate Clutter. Not always an easy one. (Clutter is my middle name.) Try not to give spiders too many hiding places if possible. I'm almost done eliminating cardboard and storing everything in plastic tubs with lids. This helps too. Storing newspapers and magazines in the open or in cardboard boxes is a big attraction for spiders.

-Keep the outside, around your house, debris free. This includes window wells. Don't keep wood of any type, rocks, leaves or other items against the house. Try to keep shrubs and trees from touching the house. This provides a dark, damp place at the foundation.

-Check screens to make sure they are hole free and tight. Seal any cracks or crevices where spiders can enter with caulk.

Note--IF you are ever bit by a spider try to capture it or at least smash it so you can still identify it and take it with you to the doctor in a plastic bag. Brown recluse and black widow spiders have particular treatments and it will help to know what kind it was. Wear gloves and long sleeves when cleaning an area that you can't see clearly before touching. If it swells at all or looks odd, call the doctor.

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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