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Lead-Safe Wisconsin: How to Check and Maintain Your Home for Lead

Small cute home

Lead is still present in paint and varnish in homes and child care centers built before 1978 and can be harmful. While it can hurt anyone, kids under age 6 are most vulnerable to lead poisoning.

The most common sources of lead exposure for children are lead-based paint, house dust, and soil that’s been contaminated with lead.

To protect your kids from lead poisoning, it’s important to check your home for possible lead hazards and maintain any painted or varnished surfaces in your home.

If your home was built before 1978, lead-based paint could still be present, even if there is newer paint on top of it. That’s why it’s important to check the condition of your paint, or hire a professional to complete a lead investigation called a risk assessment. If the paint is in good shape, lead paint probably isn’t a problem. But if your paint is peeling, chipping, cracked, or damaged, it could cause lead exposure and should be checked out.

Renovation work, including repairs and painting, can also disturb lead-based paint, causing potential harm.

Learn about hiring a lead-safe certified renovation contractor

Areas of your home to check

In addition to paint and dust, lead can be found in:

Lead dust can also be tracked into the home from:

More information about checking your home for lead

Here are ways to make sure your home is lead-safe:

  • Regularly check your home for chipping, peeling, or damaged paint. Use a scraper to loosen paint or make the surface smoother, but wet the area first and clean up afterward. Don’t sand.
  • Regularly check all painted or varnished areas that rub together or gets lots of wear, like windows, doors, and stairways, for signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Regularly check for paint chips or dust. If you see some, remove carefully with a damp paper towel and throw in the garbage. Then wipe the surface with a wet paper towel and a soap that cuts grease.
  • Wipe down flat surfaces, like windowsills, once a week with a wet paper towel and a soap that cuts grease. Make sure you throw the paper towels away afterward.
  • Mop smooth floors with a damp mop and soap that cuts grease once a week.
  • Consider hiring a certified lead company to test for the presence of lead in your house.

Dos and don’ts of lead-safe cleaning

Cleaning uncarpeted (painted or varnished) floors

Do use:

  • A damp mop with a standard sponge or string-type mop and a soap that cuts grease.
  • A standard vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum if you can’t see any dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint.

Don’t use:

  • A power buffing or polishing machine, or a vacuum with beater bars that could wear away the painted surface.
  • Sandpaper, or power sanders, unless it’s attached to a HEPA vacuum.
  • The scrubber strip on a mop.

Cleaning carpets and rugs

Do use:

  • A standard vacuum cleaner with a HEPA vacuum if you can’t see any dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint.
  • Wet scrubbing or steam cleaning methods to remove stains.

Don’t use:

  • A broom to sweep dust and debris.
  • Anything to shake or beat the dust.

Cleaning and dusting windows and other painted surfaces

Do use:

  • A HEPA vacuum to remove any debris and dust.
  • Soft, damp paper towels with a soap that cuts grease.

Don’t use:

  • Excessive rubbing to remove spots.
  • Solvent cleaners that may dissolve paint.
  • Steel wool, scouring pads, or abrasive cleaners.

More information about how to maintain your home


Last revised July 9, 2024