5 things you need to know when cleaning out your loft

5 top tips for clearing your loft

attic with wooden beam and brick wall
(Image credit: TBC)

A spring bank holiday weekend clear-out... Why not? You'll gain space, peace of mind and perhaps end up with a sizeable donation to give to charity. Sure, it can be an effort (been there just a couple of weeks ago), but the more prepared you are, the easier and more rewarding it will be. Read these 5 things to get you ready for operation loft clearance.

1. Prepare for dust
Dress for battle. Seriously. Shifting long-forgotten pieces of furniture, boxes and old loft insulation will dredge up industrial levels of dust, fluff, mould and Lord knows what. We suggest wearing an FFP3 grade dust mask, CE marked, available at any hardware store. You may feel slightly overdressed, but your lungs will thank you for it. (Ours were black after a couple of hours' work.) And put on goggles and gloves while you're at it. And, of course, take a good torch.

dear head taxidermy with white background

(Image credit: TBC)

2. Beware of dead stuff
Look out for fauna. Dead more often than not. Wasps, bees, moths, mice, spiders, bats, birds - the animal kingdom loves a life between the eaves. Careful with active wasps' nests - they don't need much provocation, but that's what pest control is for. Also, when we say dead stuff, we don't mean vintage taxidermy - that's bonus cash in the attic; if you find that, flog it!

gym equipment

(Image credit: TBC)

3. Don't mention the C word* - hoarder, moi?
Beer mat collections, tacky holiday souvenirs, broken vacuum cleaners you've been meaning to repair (we found three... don't ask), videos, trampolines and other well-intentioned NY resolutions/regimes that we didn't follow through... Hey, we've all accumulated stuff/clutter*.

The trick is to know what to hang on to and what to let go. Of course, it's not for anyone to tell you what to keep or not. Based on personal experience, we'd say be honest with yourself. Yes, you may protest, 'Oh, but I need that!' But if you really need it, what's it doing in the loft you visit once in a blue moon?

buddha statue

(Image credit: TBC)

4. Think like a Buddhist - no attachments
An attic clearance can be a sentimental journey, full of nostalgia and wistful reminiscing (‘So that's where my favourite doodah went'). And while it's easy to clear stuff you don't want (ie things you've no emotional connection with), it can be difficult to part with the things you're attached to. We're talking furniture from previous homes that doesn't quite work in the new place, stuff the kids made, letters, photos, heirlooms.

To clarify your judgment, try asking yourself: Do I use it? Would I save it in a fire? Would I buy it now? Have on hand boxes/black bags marked Chuck, Charity and Keep. Why not pass on the stuff you don't like to someone who might actually use or enjoy it? Try Freecycle or eBay. Be grateful for the things that served you, then move on. If you are keeping it, organise it. Use transparent boxes and label.

Note: no offloading stuff to the shed or basement either! Using fancy new storage systems that help you stash your stuff away more compactly is just procrastination. Get rid!

tar road with vehicles

(Image credit: TBC)

5. What's the size of the job?
Are we talking a dozen bin bags? Or 30 plus? Would a skip be in order? Perhaps you could share one with a neighbour? (Double the fun!) Try to quantify how much stuff you need to clear. Many skip hire websites help you visualise the space needed by asking how many bin bags you think you will fill. If you need to park your skip on the road, you may have to get a permit. And if you're traipsing stuff in and out of your home, line halls and floors with cardboard to protect them from scuffing.

So are you ready? Get up early like it's a day of work. Put your favourite playlist on and go for it! Stop for breaks and take an easy lunch, such as a pizza, and enjoy. You'll feel energised and literally loads lighter afterwards. Trust us, there's no sweeter feeling than seeing a skip of rubbish being taken away... Maybe you'll even be inspired to tackle other changes/moves in your life. Loft conversion maybe?

PS At the end, avoid the temptation to buy yourself something nice as a reward. Unless you want to do the same thing next year... Good luck!

For more decorating inspiration, craft ideas and cleaning hacks don't miss our dedicated DIY guide.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.