Guide to difficult tasks: Clearing the attic Part 1

Please note that this guide is intended to mitigate the risk of injury while clearing the attic but it is not a guarantee against injury and you should cease work if you feel any discomfort and contact your doctor if pain persists.

Clearing an attic or loft is not a job for the faint hearted. In most homes the idea behind having a loft was as a room or space used to store seasonal belongings and sentimental keepsakes. Seasonal belongings may have included winter clothing, sporting goods or suitcases. Sentimental keepsakes may have included wedding dresses, old family photos and your now adult children’s toys, school uniforms or pre / primary school artistic creations.

But most of us know the reality and it’s not as orderly as described above: lofts and attics contain everything and anything, out of sight and out of mind, buried under a mountain of dust! 

Although many other removalists will not clear lofts or attics for reasons of OH & S, Canard Solutions have successfully cleared many, and using the following guide will help you clear yours safely.

Poster showing ladder with one rung a broken bone

Maxim: Safety First!


1. Wear suitable / comfortable clothing that is not too tight as to restrict movement but also not too loose that it could easily snag. Your choice of footwear is important – footwear should be a flat-soled, good gripping running shoe or work boot. 

2. Safety equipment: use a face mask as it will be dusty up in the loft; wear gloves to protect against splinters, nails or spiders (see point 3)! Bring up some knee pads too in case you end up kneeling on a hard timber joist or safety plank. Your knees will thank you!

3. Beware of spiders, wasps and other pests that may have made your loft their home. If you discover an insect nest call a pest control expert. 

4. Your loft may or may not contain a loft ladder to use. If it does make sure the loft ladder is fit for purpose. If in any doubt about the loft ladder’s weight bearing integrity, remove it and use a sliding sectional ladder that extends beyond the loft hatch. Where possible tie the ladder to a rigid object inside or outside the loft to prevent the ladder slipping away. Even better, have a helper on hand to hold the ladder at the bottom as you ascend and descend the ladder. 

5. As you navigate yourself around the inside of the loft be very mindful of what you are stepping on. Do not tread only on the joists but bring up a solid timber plank or scaffolding board that can sit firmly on the joists and provide you with secure, safe footing as you commence removing items out of the loft. (see Appendix A). 

Loft joist with board laid across them to provide footing for sale clearing of attic

Position the board across the joists.

6. Use a portable light source if the attic has no electrical light fixture already in place. If using a portable light source be careful that you don’t trip on any cabling. It may be a great idea to invest in a head torch. These are great as you are then free to work with your hands and head torches can be used for many other applications in life like cycling or walking at night. 

7. Work with at least one other person, preferably two, in the following way: the person in the loft hands down the items to a second person who then either stores items in the designated place (assuming two people) or passes items to a third person who stores them in the designated place (assuming three people). 

Next week, in part two of ‘Clearing the Attic’, we look at how to prepare, sort and process items removed from the loft. Many people won’t want to do this – you can call on us! Canard Solutions, 03 9013 6084.