Where Do I Start? Advice for Cleaning Deceased Parent’s Home

5 Things to Remember When Cleaning the Home of a Late Parent

We were contacted by a gentleman who needed help to clean the home of his deceased father.  As you can see from the video below, walking through a deceased person’s home can be sobering.  Each item of furniture takes on new meaning.  The “old couch” is no longer just a place to sit, rather its an untold story.  What memories does it have to tell?

As I write this article, I am reminded that for the family it is so much more than just memories, its also a burden.  We all have been touched in one way or another by the death of a loved one, but often what is overlooked is the aftermath.

The “Business of Death” is a Sad Necessity

I have an interesting perspective on what I call the “Business of Death.”  In my previous career, I was a Bank Manager.  There is an uncomfortable joke among bankers to the effect of …..  “Where are the Two Places you go when a relative dies?”  The answer is, “The funeral home and the BANK.”  People go to the bank to see what “stuff” was left.  One of the worst examples of this joke is when there is a race between siblings to see what Mom or Dad has left behind and to learn how to get to it first.

“Is there a Will in the safe deposit box?”  “What does it say?”  “How much money does mom have in her account?”

To all my fellow bankers reading this article, I ask, “How many times have you had to say, “I am sorry, I can’t reveal that information.  You will have to go to Probate Court to get it sorted out?”  (and all the bankers nod there heads at once….)

On the other hand, is it wrong to ask the questions?  Certainly not, but as with so many things in life, it involves a complicated mixture of emotions.  Often, its Sadness, Excitement, and Guilt that are the ingredients for this complicated cocktail. We are Guilty for being Happy that a loved one’s Sad passing has brought money to the family.  Life is complicated, isn’t it? Apparently, so is death.


1 evictionThe 5 Steps to Handle the “Burden of Stuff” Left When a Relative Dies

Overwhelming “Burdens of Stuff” are also left behind when a loved one passes away.  Its not just the money in the safe deposit box that one must worry about, but its the house full of “stuff” that is left to the next generation.  This “stuff” is known as junk to most people, and this “Burden of Stuff” is overwhelming.

1.  The first thing to do when sorting through “The stuff”  is to accept that “It will be an overwhelming task, and that is ok.”

The items left behind contain memories.  These memories can create illogical questions in your head, such as:  “If I throw this plate away, am I throwing away a piece of mom or dad?”  Of course you are not, but it can feel that way.  Be careful not to allow “feelings” to take over your life.

2.  Determine What Should be Kept and What Should be Removed.

Its not that uncommon for somebody to die without a Will.  The Lack of Will creates unnecessary tension for the next generation.  If you find yourself in this position, your resource is the Probate Court.  Go to your County’s Probate Court, and they can instruct you on what to do next.

3.  Donate or Throw Away Everything Else.

– If Items can be re-used, consider donating them to a Charity’s Thrift Store.  Often, if there is furniture involved, Thrift Stores will pick up the items for free.

– If you have a lot of junk, consider renting a U-Haul or some other type of Truck.  Generally, after gas and fees, you can expect a price of about $50 to $75 for the day.  After loading the truck, take the items to the landfill.  Depending on the amount, the landfill should be between $10 to $50.

4.  Consider Hiring a Company to Pack and Haul Away the Junk for You.

-This is something that my company does, but even if you can’t use us,( TurnClean Services,) there are tons of Junk Removal Companies out there.  Simply Google “Junk Removal,” and you will get a list of companies that will load and haul away your Trash / Junk.

5.  If the Deceased was a Tenant, talk with the Landlord to see what Obligations are needed to Satisfy the Lease.

-For example, many landlords expect the home to be restored to “Move-in Ready Status.”  Often they have cleaners that they already use.  If you do not want to deal with “cleaning the home” hire a cleaning company to do it.  Better yet, ask if the landlord would be willing to cover it.  What I mean is this.  Let’s say that your deceased mom or dad had a deposit with the property manager for $1,000.  Many Landlords would rather keep a specified amount from the deposit to have it cleaned themselves.  (generally about $250.)  If this is the case, take advantage of it.


I hope this article has been helpful to you.  My assumption is that many of you reading this have gone through tragedy, and I imagine you can guess that I have too.  All I can say is this……Just hang in there.  Things will feel better.  The Raw Hole will always be in both you and your family, but the “rawness” does get better over time.  But for now, I am sorry for what you feel.  It truly stinks.

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