It feels great once it’s finished, but the prospect of spring cleaning can seem like a daunting task. After being cooped-up in a stuffy house all winter long, there are always those traditional, seasonal tasks to care of before summer starts. You know it all needs to be done, but where to start?
With busy lifestyles and multiple commitments, it will likely take some planning to make sure that you have all your bases covered. The key is to remember that your spring cleaning ritual doesn’t all have to be completed in one weekend. The types of things that you’re doing aren’t exactly critical, so why not spread it out a little and take your time? You’re likely to do a more thorough job and it’s a lot less stressful. Approach it like a pro this year – make an action plan, assign tasks and take care of your household business logically and safely.
Whether it's climbing, cleaning or carrying heavy loads, household chores can be risky. It’s important to pace yourself, as most home accidents tend to happen when you’re rushed or distracted.
- Clean in an organized manner - there’s no point in mopping the floor only to dust the ceiling fan next.
- Clean the things you’d never normally think to clean. This might include mattresses, garbage can interiors, shower curtains, the washer and dryer, your dishwasher, kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the filters on air purifiers. You’d be surprised at the bacteria that can build up over time.
- Clean and test all fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Also be sure to change the batteries.
- Check dates and pressure gauges on fire extinguishers
- Clean out the medicine cabinet and safely discard of any outdated medications or items that you no longer need
- When cleaning windows, check that all safety latches and guards are secure
- As you move things around, check electrical cords for excessive wear and make sure they are tucked away to avoid any tripping hazards
- Have your fireplace chimney professionally inspected and cleaned
- Steam clean your rugs and carpets to eliminate any allergens that may have built-up over the winter months
- Check the garage for flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint thinner, paint and cleaners. Keep only the amount you need to use and safely discard of the rest.
- When dusting, check that all light bulbs are the proper wattage for the item being used. Using higher watt bulbs can cause a fire hazard.
- Check inside and outside your home for evidence of pests such as wasps or bats etc. This is a good time to have any nests removed before critters become more active.
- Make sure that your emergency supplies such as first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, candles etc. are stocked-up. This is usually a good time to review your family emergency or evacuation plan as well.
Avoiding Common Injuries
A good spring cleaning often means climbing, lifting heavy objects and using strong cleaning solutions, all of which can potentially lead to serious injuries. Falls are typically the leading cause of unintentional accidents in the household.
- For reaching high areas, use a proper ladder rather than a chair or box to stand on (see ladder safety below)
- Don’t leave items on walkways, stairs or landings that could cause a tripping hazard. Also watch the size of the loads you carry so that you can keep a line-of-sight for where you’re headed.
- Beware of slick floors when mopping, and clean up any spills right away to avoid the potential for slips and falls
- When lifting heavy objects or moving furniture or appliances, be sure to get some help. Don’t be a hero. Use your legs to lift, don’t twist and hold heavy items close to your body to help save your back.
- If you have issues with allergies, wear a mask when cleaning dusty areas
- To avoid injuries when using harsh chemicals, be sure to wear rubber gloves and use eye protection
- Try to break-up your tasks and take frequent breaks so that you don’t get over-tired. Also be sure to eat and drink to maintain your energy level and concentration.
- If you happen to be doing a lot of heavy lifting, make sure that you warm-up and stretch-out afterwards to keep your back from seizing-up.
- Be sure to read the labels and warnings on all household cleaners and follow the instructions exactly. When in doubt, don’t mix any of these items and NEVER mix bleach and ammonia as it will produce toxic fumes.
- Keep household cleaners in their original, labeled containers to avoid any confusion or miss-use
- Ensure that you have adequate ventilation when using any harsh cleansers or solvents indoors
- Make sure that caps and lids are secure when storing and keep all such items away from kids and pets
- Rather than using commercial cleansers for everything, try using some natural products as an alternative. Toothpaste works well for polishing silver, lemon juice is a natural bleach, baking soda works well on tile and sinks, and when mixed with vinegar it's great for cleaning out drains. White distilled vinegar is a popular household cleanser, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs. It’s a smart way to avoid using harsh chemicals, and it’s also environmentally friendly and very economical.
- Don’t use ladders differently than what they were originally designed for. Fashioning a makeshift scaffold or creatively combining ladders is never a good idea.
- Set the ladder up on a flat, even surface, open step-ladders completely and make sure locks are in-place. Get someone to hold the base steady while in-use.
- Always use the 4 to 1 rule when using extension ladders. That’s one foot away from the wall for every 4 feet you go up. This provides the most stable base of support.
- Don’t go beyond the highest safe level on any ladder. That’s the 2nd highest rung on a step-ladder and the 4th highest on an extension ladder.
- Go up and down slowly. It’s not a race.
- Keep both feet on the ladder and don’t over-reach. Always keep your hips within the boundaries of the vertical rails.
- Metal ladders conduct electricity. Watch for overhead wires and stay at least 10 ft. away.
Getting Rid of Clutter
Keeping on top of household clutter should be one of those ongoing tasks throughout the year. If you leave it too long, you’re more likely to procrastinate if the job looks like it has become too big. Aside from not being able to find the things you need quickly and easily, a cluttered home or garage can create hazards for trips, falls and an increased risk of fire.
When in doubt, throw it out - It’s amazing how liberating this can be.
Use it or lose it - This is particularly helpful when you are attempting to implement Rule 1.
A place for everything, and everything in its place - Some clutter is just stuff that belongs someplace else.
Label things - It’s a LOT easier to find what you’re looking for in boxes and bins if the contents are clearly marked.
No matter what your approach may be to spring cleaning, a solid plan, a realistic pace and some common sense will go a long way.