How to Clean Your Home During and After a Renovation

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Chad and I bought our house in 2018, and it was, to put it nicely, a fixer-upper. Right away, we did fixer-up, at least the upstairs. And may I just say it looks fabulous. However, the basement we put off for a couple of years, until this past summer. 

Our basement renovation project was a very messy journey, especially because we were living in the house during the renovation. So I thought I should take some inspiration from this experience and teach you how to deal with the mess, dirt, smells, and buildup during your renovation. And, of course, how to clean your home after a renovation has taken place. 

I’m also going to share my favorite Dyson products for dealing with renovations. Specifically, the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cold Formaldehyde and the Dyson V15 Detect. This amazing Dyson technology is going to help you beat all that reno dust. 

A big focus of this article is cleaning and staying on top of dust! Renovations generally aren’t grimy; they’re dusty. And if you’re living in your home during a renovation, this can be a big problem because dust can really affect air quality. That’s why it’s so important to know how to clean during and after a renovation. But don’t worry, I’m going to show you how to keep your home and your household happy and healthy, even during renovations. 

Melissa Maker cleans the house

Keep Your Home Clean During Renovations

Since I started my cleaning business over 15 years ago, we’ve done a lot of post-renovation cleanings so, luckily, I had a lot of experience in it by the time I renovated my own home. The first thing to know is you want to keep the space as clean as you can during the renovation. Whether that’s you or your general contractor taking that task on, it’s important to make sure that the house is being cleaned up after each day. 

I know this sounds like a lot of cleaning. And it is a lot of cleaning. But if you clean up each day, you avoid dust and debris buildup that will be way harder to clean. Plus, you want to make sure dangerous items like stray nails and wood splinters get picked up, especially if you’re living in the house during the renovation.

Stay on Top of Dust

Dust comes from sanding and cutting and different types of construction materials. So if you haven’t experienced a home renovation yet, I’ll let you imagine just how much dust they actually create. Hint: a lot! 

Unfortunately, a regular vacuum is not up to the task of dust removal when it comes to home renovations. You’ll need some sort of industrial wet dry vac for this job because it’s so important to prevent dust from circulating and settling throughout your home. Of course, you won’t be able to stop every piece of dust, but an industrial wet dry vac will do the best job. And, like I said, the more you can stay on top of it during the renovation process, the less work you’re going to have to do on the back end. 

With that being said, if you’re just renovating a particular area, you can also put up plastic barriers to prevent the dust and debris from making its way to other areas in your home. This might be something your contractor will do, so talk to them about it. I would also suggest taping any vents or ducts to ensure no dust particles are circulating through your home’s ventilation.

Maintain Good Air Quality

Something not everyone thinks about before they start renovations is the air quality throughout the renovation. All that dust flying around is a real hazard to our health. During our renovation, it was really important to me that we maintained good air quality for myself, Chad, Riley, and our cat. 

After staying on top of dust and blocking off areas, an air purifier is your best defense against dusty air. I actually kept two running (one on each floor) throughout our entire renovation. Air purifiers can pick up super fine dust that even your industrial vac might miss. And air purifiers filter those impurities that aren’t visible to us, specifically VOCs and formaldehyde, which is actually a big concern! 

Melissa, Chad, and Riley sitting in front of the fireplace

Invest in an Air Purifier: Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde

Taking on air quality during a renovation is a big job, even for an air purifier, so it’s important to choose a high-quality air purifier that’s up to the task. For my renovation, we chose to use the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde because not only does it automatically sense, capture, and trap pollutants, it detects and destroys formaldehyde, hence the name. Not all air purifiers can do that!

The Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde is a super strong air purifier. So strong that it removes 99.97 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns. Remember, this is the kind of stuff that’s off-gassing from paints, flooring, new fixtures, and furniture. 

If you know me, you know I love Dyson products. One of the reasons I think they’re so great is that they use amazing scientific tests on their products. And I’ll explain what I mean by that. The standard way that air purifiers are tested is a test called CADR. This test involves putting an air purifier in a small room with air circulation. The room has one sensor that tests the air quality.

Dyson raised their eyebrow at this because this test isn’t very effective. Why? It doesn’t actually mimic real life. Your air purifier isn’t going to sit alone in a small room; it needs to put in the work. So Dyson decided to create their own test to make sure their air purifiers were up to snuff. 

Dyson’s test is called the Polar Test. They put their air purifier in a larger room (one that reflects what our actual homes look like). Even better, this room has nine sensors instead of one to ensure the air is clean throughout the entire room, not just in one part. I love Dyson because I trust their products are tested, and tested, and tested until they’re perfect! And that’s important when it comes to my family’s health. 

Post-Renovation Cleaning

OK, you made it through the renovation. Now it’s time for the post-renovation clean. To prep the space for this massive clean, remove all those final materials like plastic barriers, paper on the floor, boxes, paint cans, building materials, and everything else that doesn’t need to be there anymore. You also want to think about disposing of any clutter that has built up during the renovation. 

Then, it’s time to tackle, you guessed it, all that dust. Will you be sick to death of dust after your renovation? Also yes. Dust always falls from the top to the bottom and finds any and all horizontal spaces. You’ll find dust taking a little holiday on even the tiniest horizontal surfaces in your home. Think about the tops of door frames, all the grooves on your doors, the baseboards, the molding, literally anywhere there is a horizontal surface.

Pretend you’re auditioning for the role of mean in-law, and run your finger along all the horizontal surfaces in your house. I bet you’ll find dust on every one. To manage this, start by dry dusting the area first. Drywall dust gets really streaky when wet, so start with a microfiber cloth and dry dust as best you can. 

If you notice dirt and dust left behind after you dry dust, then it’s OK to use a little bit of moisture. All you need is a couple of spritzes of all-purpose cleaner on a microfiber cloth for this. 

One of the reasons post-reno cleans take so long is because we have to clean the vertical surfaces as well. That’s why your walls, your windows, and your baseboards are also going to need extra attention. Now, you’re going to use the same process. Use the same process for this. First, dry dust with a microfiber cloth, and follow that with a wet dusting process.

Clean the Floors: The Dyson V15 Detect

Then, it all comes down to the floors. Once all that cleaning and dusting is done, you’ll want to give your floors a final vacuum with that wet dry vac. Once that’s done, you can then maintain your floors with a regular household vacuum. 

You might notice more dust after you clean. And that’s because fine dust resettles for up to two weeks after a reno. But don’t cry; it will be over soon. And for dealing with the aftermath, I love the Dyson V15 Detect. 

The Dyson V15 Detect has a laser that can detect all sorts of dust, even tiny particles. So it’s easier to find all that super-fine dust that’s left behind. 

Melissa vacuuming her hallway

Change Your Furnace Filters

Something people often forget to do after a renovation is to change the furnace filter. Your HVAC system is a major player in air quality because it’s responsible for the flow of air throughout your entire space. 

During renovations, your system has no doubt been working overtime, and it’s likely clogged from all that dust. So definitely change your filter, and this is a great time to make that duct cleaning phone call and get your ducts cleaned. 

How to Clean Your Home After a Renovation

By now, you’re probably sick of hearing about dust. To be honest, I am too! But what’s worse than hearing about dust is living in a dusty home during renovations. So remember, stay on top of dust before it lands on top of you and invest in a high-quality industrial wet dry vac, air purifier, and regular vacuum. 

Have you undergone renovations in your home? Or do you have a renovation coming up? Let me know in the comments how you handled your renovation or what your game plan is for an upcoming renovation!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.