How to Make a Spooky Haunted House—and Keep Your Home Clean!
Halloween is just around the corner, and no night of trick-or-treating would be complete without at least one haunted house in the neighborhood. Don’t you remember going door-to-door for candy as a kid, then passing other trick-or-treaters on the sidewalk and having them warn you to, “Watch out for THAT house!”
Whether you opt for a graveyard scene, a mad scientist’s laboratory, or a zombie apocalypse, the setup doesn’t have to be expensive or labor-intensive to be spooky, but it’s usually expected that there’s going to be a mess afterwards. Follow these simple steps to make your haunted house the creepiest on the block—and also make sure it stays the cleanest!
Create a Spooky Atmosphere Without the Risk of Staining
A few careful details can transform your front lawn, driveway, or patio from an everyday home to a place that sends shivers up the spines of trick-or-treaters. To immediately create an effective atmosphere, black lights and/or flickering lights are a must. Black lights will make everyday t-shirts and sneakers glow an eerie white, while flickering lights create atmosphere and make it difficult to see what’s coming next.
Find a soundtrack of scary noises to accompany your scene: wolves howling, witches cackling, chains dragging, or ghouls moaning should do the trick. Many spooky soundtracks are available to download for free, or you can just as easily stream them as YouTube videos. Play them on your laptop or through Bluetooth speakers throughout the evening.
Another creepy element that every haunted house needs to set a mood is dry ice. It has a short shelf life, so don’t bring it out until right before showtime. Just prior to the trick-or-treating hours, pour the dry ice into buckets, cauldrons, or beakers of warm water to make bubbling noises and produce a ghostly mist that will make the place appear truly haunted.
WARNING: Always handle dry ice with care, as contact with the skin can burn you. Place dry ice containers in areas where they can’t be accessed by the hands of children.
Above all, the most convenient aspect of frightening music, lighting, and dry ice is how none of them create additional messes like so many other atmospheric choices would.
Try These Clean and Convincing DIY Props
Fake blood and monster makeup are great for producing scares, but they usually require COIT technicians afterward to blast away the stains and restore your carpet flooring and furniture upholstery. The good news is there are countless possibilities for how you can decorate your home while still leaving cleanup to a minimum. If you want to skip handing large sums of money to the local Halloween store this October, here are a few favorite DIY tricks that make for some fantastically creepy props:
- The Head in Jar Prank: For this surprisingly convincing prop, you will need a large jar, water, food coloring, access to a laminator, and a photograph of a face that blends front and side views. If you want to make one yourself, you can create a suitable image by photoshopping three images together, or you can search online for existing images that are easy to download and print. Once you have your picture printed, trim it to fit in your jar, laminate it, and place it in the jar with the image facing out, curved so that the photo takes on the shape of the jar. Finally, fill the jar with water dyed green, yellow, or another creepy color that looks like preserving liquid. Note: As long as your kids don’t spill the food coloring and nobody knocks over the jar, this brilliant Halloween decoration will leave your home stain-free.
- Chicken Wire Ghosts: To create spooky figures that can either stand alone or hang from trees, mold chicken wire into the desired shape of the apparition. You can try making a full body, from head to legs, or just the shape of a dress standing alone without a head or limbs. Don’t worry about getting the details exactly right since these decorations are meant to be viewed from a distance. If desired, you can also drape the final project with white linens or tie on scraps of cloth that flutter with gusts of wind. Again, this fun prop will leave your home unblemished!
- Creepy “Ingredients” You Can Touch: This one’s a classic, but is also a little dangerous on the clean-o-meter, especially if your haunted house caters to children. Play the role of the mad scientist and allow kids to reach (but not look) into different containers to feel icky ingredients: peeled grapes for eyeballs, Jell-O for brains, cold cooked spaghetti for veins, and anything else you can think of—get creative! Our biggest recommendation is that you place some form of a drop cloth underneath this area so if kids jump, they don’t spill the Jello-O or Spaghetti onto your furniture or flooring.
Don’t Forget the Candy, and Have Fun!
After visitors have braved your haunted house, reward them with treats, and above all, have fun! If the festivities leave an unplanned mess, companies like COIT mean there isn’t a spill or prank that can’t be erased. For help removing stains, sticky candies, silly string, or other debris from your driveway or home interior, the team at COIT is always a phone call away.