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Dirty deeds

Contractors, woodworkers or anyone else who installs furniture or cabinets try to contain their mess, but there’s something they almost always miss.

Tarps on the floor in wet weather are great, as are shoe covers and drop cloths. All help keep a client’s home clean during an install. Afterward, liberal use of brooms, vacuums and general elbow grease get rid of whatever was created. But while doing the actual work I’ve seen few contractors take a moment periodically to wash their hands. The result is that handprints and smudges can get everywhere, especially on light-colored walls.

My ceiling installers did a great job, taking great care during and after working to contain any inevitable mess. But once they left, they left behind handprints, mostly on the walls up near the ceiling where they weren’t readily apparent. As a result, they were missed during cleanup.

While working, anyone inside someone else’s home should make sure throughout the install that their hands are clean and, correspondingly, they should watch where they touch and lean. Installations are dirty work, taking a break every once in a while to wash up can go a long way to preventing missed messes later.

Likewise, a clean, dampened rag kept with working gear – or better yet, a “dirt eraser” like those from “Mr. Clean” and others – will quickly eliminate smudges and smears while working. And, if you find you’re using one a lot, it should be a reminder to take that hand-washing break I mentioned earlier.

When doing final cleanup afterward, it’s only natural to mostly be looking down when cleaning, as that’s where the mess usually is. But be sure to look up, too. You might be surprised at what gets left behind above your head.

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