Cleaning After Construction

26 May 2021
Cleaning After Construction

Cleaning a building after new construction or renovation is a vital step in preparing it for public use, of course, but it can be a seemingly Herculean task even for professionals. Construction tends to generate a significant amount of dust and other fine particulates that settle throughout a jobsite—and sometimes well beyond it. Professionals hired to clean after new construction/renovation need to pay special attention to removing the dirt and debris that’s unique to such environments, because it can cause significant problems later if it’s not properly addressed.

Clear Out the Large Debris First

All post-construction cleaning should start with what is possibly the most obvious step—removing large debris from the site. This will often include scraps of new building materials (cutoffs from lumber, plywood sheeting, sheet rock, flooring, etc.); empty or mostly empty cans of paint, stain, polyurethan coating, or other finishing products; and, less frequently, some leftover items or scraps from any demolition that took place. Trying to do more detail-oriented cleaning without clearing these larger obstructions usually leads to a significant amount of duplicated work, so they’re best removed first.

Sturdy waste receptacles and liners are crucial for this step since the debris you’ll be removing will be largely comprised of heavy and/or rigid pieces. Large receptacles are also advisable to cut down on the time you’ll have to spend emptying and relining them, which you’ll probably be doing often anyway.

Floors, Part 1

After all of the large waste items are cleared out of the space, the next most logical step is to sweep, vacuum, and/or mop the floors in/around the job site. The idea is to remove as much construction dust from the floor as possible so that there’s little (if any) left to kick up or redeposit onto other surfaces as you move upward. Be especially attentive to carpeted floors in this phase of the job; they’re likely to be holding a significant amount of dust, but also larger pieces of detritus like wood or metal shavings, splinters, and so on. They may also have grimy or oily deposits that need to be removed in this phase.

Keep in mind, though, that you’re almost certainly going to have some dust and other particulates float down to the floor from the walls and elevated horizontal surfaces that you clean—that’s okay. You should come back to floors again as part of the final step to beautify the space.

Windows, Walls, and Countertops

Once the floors are thoroughly cleaned, you should move on to vertical surfaces like walls and windows, as well as adjacent horizontal surfaces like countertops and windowsills. You should be primarily removing dust and construction grime here—larger pieces of debris won’t (or, in most cases, shouldn’t) adhere to these surfaces. Sturdy rags, sponges, and chamois are the best tools for the job, especially when they’re combined with quality degreasers for hard surfaces and ammonia-based cleaners for glass. This is also a good time to dust light fixtures and replace any burnt out bulbs.

This step might also include cleaning doors, windows, and/or cabinet faces, depending on the space in question. Many of these surfaces can simply be dusted because they’re unlikely to accumulate more than a thin particulate layer, but appropriate cleaners may also be necessary if any oily residues have settled on the vertical surfaces.

Floors, Part 2

After you clean the countertops and vertical surfaces, it’s exceedingly likely that some particulates will have re-settled on the floor. You should vacuum and, where appropriate, mop (although, depending on the material and the amount of dust deposited, you may be able to get away with just dust mopping) to prepare the floors for their final treatment—polishing for hard surfaces and shampooing for carpets. Those final steps are important not only to make the environment more attractive, but also to prolong the life of the flooring itself. And, in the case of carpeting, shampooing and extraction helps to promote better health in the space since soft flooring can be a breeding ground for germs when not properly maintained.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning after construction doesn’t generally require an especially involved or complex plan, but it does call for an eye for fine details and a general understanding of proper order of operations.

View All Entries