A loved one dying can be tough, and while we may be expecting the emotional impact, it is easy to forget all the practical tasks that have to be done. Once immediate things like arranging the funeral and dealing with finances are sorted, one particularly big job is cleaning out the deceased’s house, flat or room e.g. cleaning out elderly parents’ homes.
We might only ever have to do this a few times in our life so it’s understandable that a lot of people don’t know where to start. Here’s a guide to how to clean a house when someone dies (UK specific information).
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How to clear a house when someone dies
Make a plan
Successfully clearing out someone’s house is a big job and takes a bit of planning. Start by working out when you’ll do it and who will be involved. If you can, get the whole family to help. Cleaning out deceased parents’ home together will make it much easier. Try to set aside a good few days for the task – things always take longer than you think. Also, be sure you have all the cleaning products you’ll need to hand before you start e.g. Cif Power & Shine spray, Domestos bleach products and Persil laundry detergent for freshening up household fabrics.
Once you get started cleaning out deceased house items, there will be lots of decisions to make. Sort everything into different categories: things definitely to get rid of, things you want to keep and things about which you can’t yet decide. Once you have things you need to dispose of, work out what you can donate to charity shops, whether anything is worth auctioning or selling online and how to empty the house of the rest. If you are cleaning out an elderly parent’s home and have taken everything with sentimental value, you could employ house clearance professionals who will take things away, but be sure to get a few quotes as prices do vary.
Dealing with problems as they arise
Clearing a house after death is such a big task it’s likely that you’ll run into problems somewhere along the line. Most can be solved with a little time and thought. For example, if you are cleaning out an elderly parent’s house contents with siblings and there’s a disagreement as to what to keep and throw away, put the item to one side and designate time to discuss it later. It’s also important to be prepared for the unexpected – a lifetime’s worth of stuff is likely to include some things you didn’t know about. While you clean out houses after death, try to take things in your stride and don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult.
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Knowing how to clean out parents’ houses after death or the living space of another loved one is difficult, both physically and emotionally. Take your time and be sure to call on your support networks as you go through the process. While it may not be that much fun, it’ll feel good to know that it’s done.