How to Handle Cleaning Out a Parent’s House After Death

December 17, 2021

Cleaning out a parent’s house after death can be tedious and extensive. Often, parents have lived in a home for decades at the time they pass away. As a result, sifting through decades worth of stuff can take a long time, and you may not know where to start. 

Instead of assuming you’ll get to it when you have time, set a reasonable deadline for cleaning out a parent’s house after death. You will never get to it if you don’t have a plan on what to do with the house and a timeline for cleaning it out. 

Look to this guide for cleaning out a parent’s house after death: 

1. Collect Vital Documents

Before you start throwing things away in your parent’s home, you must collect all of their important documents. Maybe they kept them in a safe or a filing cabinet. Look for insurance documents, a will, birth certificates, social security cards, and more. 

If they have picture albums, letters, or other memorable papers worth keeping, remove them all from the house before any family members come in to help with cleaning out a parent’s house after death. Then you won’t have to worry about any sentimental items getting thrown out without your approval. 

2. Gather Immediate Family Members to Walk Through the Home

The daunting task of an estate cleanout cannot only be left to one person. There may be items inside the house that mean a lot to some family and friends but don’t hold any significance for you. 

Choose a day that everyone can visit the loved one’s home. Then, they can gather the items there on that day and take them home. Or, if there is a dispute on some things, they can make a note on who wants what and divide them up evenly at the end. 

3. Decide What to Do with the House

Before cleaning out the house, it’s best to know what is going to happen to the house. Will it be listed for sale? Will it be passed on to a child of an elderly parent or a grandchild? Of course, after the death of a loved one, these are sensitive decisions to be made. But they need to be addressed. 

What you do with the home will change the way you clean it out. For example, if you are ready to list the house for sale, you would remove all wallpaper and old flooring and paint the home in a modern color. This process would require eliminating personalizations to the home that your parents made.

But if you decide to keep the home in your family, maybe you would leave the stain-glassed window that your mom put in the kitchen. Or you would keep up the bathroom wallpaper that is vintage from when you were a little kid. 

4. Sell Large Pieces of Furniture or Valuables Not Claimed by Family

After family members have walked through the home, you may need to put on an estate sale as part of cleaning out a parent’s house after death. List all valuables for sale and split the money once the sale is over. 

5. Set Up a Sorting Station

You will want a large area where you can sort items into boxes labeled, donate, sell, keep, and trash. Having a place for each item that you sort will keep the process moving swiftly. 

The best part about having a sorting station is hiring a junk removal team at the end of the cleanout. They will haul everything away without you having to worry about the heavy lifting. 

6. Discard of Hazardous Materials and Medication Responsibly

Be sure to ask a doctor about medications and how you can properly dispose of them. Hazardous materials like oil, gasoline, paint, and more can be brought into a recycling center or a fire department for disposal. As the junk removal team about hauling away these items for you! 

7. Make Necessary Repairs and Updates

At this part of cleaning out a parent’s house after death, you will be left with an empty house. The bulk of your work is done at this point. But there are still repairs and updates to be made.

If your parents lived in the home for decades, it is time to inspect the house and make sure there is no mold or significant damage present. Then, make minor repairs like the light in the living room that flickered with the fan or the loose railing up the stairs. 

Update the home with new flooring or a new coat of paint. Trim the yard to enhance the curb appeal for potential buyers. Even if a family member moves into the home, they will want some updates added. For some tasks of cleaning out a parent’s house after death, this step may require hiring a contractor. 

8. Clean the Home

Along with making updates to the home, the final step is to clean the home from top to bottom. Even if your parents were very clean, more cleaning is needed once all of the items are moved out of the house. 

For example, wipe down cupboards and drawers in the kitchen. Clean the baseboards. Check for cobwebs in areas of the home that weren’t used as often. Get the carpets and tile professionally cleaned. 

It can be therapeutic during the grieving process to throw yourself into cleaning and meet your deadline with having the home ready for sale or new residents. Once you have completed cleaning out a parent’s house after death, you will walk through the home with fresh eyes. 

10. Take a Moment to Reflect

The final step in cleaning out a parent’s house after death is to take some time in the empty home and reflect on the lives that were lived in the home. You will never regret taking a moment to sit down and remember the memories that happened in one room on Christmas morning and in another room as your mom played the guitar for the grandkids. 

Part of cleaning out a parent’s house after death is finding closure and saying your final goodbyes. Of course, you have other ways to remember a parent. But giving up their home to a stranger or other family member can be a challenging step to take. Give yourself grace and a moment to take it all in before handing over the keys. 

Ask for Help with Junk Removal Services

Cleaning out an estate can feel overwhelming, with decades of stuff to sort through and donate to the right people. But, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Get help cleaning out a parent’s house after death by calling Junk-A-Haulics. 

Our team can haul all of your items away at the end of the project, making the process go faster and more efficient. For example, if you have a big haul of furniture to donate, let Junk-A-Haulics take care of it rather than loading it into your vehicle one by one. Contact us today to set up an appointment. 

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