You made it through the winter, and now it’s time to open the windows and let in the sun. Sure, it may shine a little extra light on the laundry, dust, and other chores forgotten during the holiday craziness, but that’s what spring cleaning is for. But with all the cleaning products, ladder climbing, and heavy lifting, things can get hazardous pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Keep reading for our top 5 spring cleaning safety tips.
1. Prevent slips, trips, and falls.
Things are bound to get a little messy when you’re going through your things, choosing which to keep, donate, sell, and throw away. As your floor becomes a minefield of half-opened boxes and clothes piles, you can protect yourself from trips and falls by:
- Clearing away any trip hazards before you start;
- Organizing items as you pull them out, always leaving a walkway to get around;
- Throwing away trash as it builds up instead of letting it pile on the floor;
- Staying off freshly mopped floors until they’re dry.
If you’re busting out the step stool or ladder, stay balanced as you work. Don’t lean too far to one side or climb higher than the manufacturer recommends. When possible, have someone steady the ladder while you use it to reduce your fall risk.
2. Watch your form during heavy lifting.
Storage containers, donation boxes, and trash bags have one thing in common: they can all get extremely heavy. To reduce the risk of hurting your back while lifting, brace yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, bend at your knees, using your abdominal and leg muscles to support you as you lift. Ask for help lifting heavy or odd-shaped items and take multiple trips instead of trying to carry everything at once.
3. Be safe around cleaning products and chemicals.
As you start scrubbing your counters, toilets, and other surfaces, you’ll probably turn to cleaning products for a little help. Many cleaning solutions contain toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that can pollute your indoor air and cause harm when inhaled. To minimize chemical exposure, follow these tips:
- Read all product labels before combining cleaning chemicals. Never mix bleach with ammonia or acids—it creates a toxic gas that can cause severe respiratory symptoms and even death.
- Use low or no-VOC cleaning products, such as those found in the EPA Safer Choice database.
- Make homemade cleaning solutions with water, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon.
- Open windows and turn on exhaust fans to increase ventilation when using cleaning chemicals.
4. Clear the air—and your shelves—of dust.
Dust contains a wide range of ingredients, including many different allergy triggers and harmful chemicals. Dry cloths and feather dusters can send dust flying into the air you breathe, where it’ll continue to float around until settling back down on your floor, shelves, or furniture. To dust your home without polluting your indoor air, try using a vacuum, damp washcloth, or microfiber cloth to trap the dust as you clean. An air purifier may also reduce household dust, trapping airborne particles before they have the chance to settle.
5. Care for your body.
Spring cleaning is a big task, both physically and mentally. To keep yourself going strong while you clean:
- Hydrate often;
- Take breaks at least every hour or so;
- Listen to your body, and don’t try to push through back or joint pain;
- Dress for success in comfortable clothes and non-skid shoes;
- Wear a dust mask and gloves as needed.
Walking through a freshly cleaned home feels great, especially when you finish the job without hurting yourself or getting too dizzy from chemical fumes. Safe spring cleaning means taking a few quick moments before each task to get organized, remove potential hazards, and make a plan of action. Then, you can get to work!
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