Spring Cleaning Safety
When the weather starts to get warmer, nothing feels better than opening up the windows, letting in fresh air, and sprucing up our homes for the new season. There are a number of risky behaviors, however, that can make spring cleaning a hazard. Keep yourself and the rest of your household safe and healthy this spring by avoiding the following cleaning mistakes.
Ladder accidents lead to 164,000 emergency room visits in the United States each year, according to the World Health Organization. Whether you’re cleaning out the gutters or dusting the tops of your kitchen cabinets, following proper ladder safety practices is essential during spring cleaning. Make sure the ladder is set up on an even surface and that the spreaders are locked before mounting it. It’s also prudent to have a spotter there to steady the ladder and lend a hand if necessary.
There are many commonly-used household cleaning ingredients that don’t play well together. Bleach, for example, is notoriously tricky to pair with other substances. A dangerous reaction can occur if bleach is inadvertently mixed with vinegar , ammonia, or rubbing alcohol. Unless you’re willing to carefully read and interpret the ingredient lists on all your products, it’s best to avoid mixing any two together.
Using Dirty Cleaning Tools
Clean tools are essential during spring cleaning, so it’s important to ensure sponges, brushes, and rags are washed or sanitized before getting started. Using a dirty sponge, for example, can spread bacteria around rather than eliminating it. When spending a whole day cleaning, cloths and sponges should be sanitized or replaced regularly to avoid spreading germs from room to room, so consider swapping out tools as you work.
Not Wearing Protective Equipment
Many commercially produced cleaning products contain strong chemicals that shouldn’t come into contact with your skin. Even when using homemade or natural products, however, it’s smart to wear protective gloves to avoid drying out your hands. It’s also recommended to wear a mask when working in dusty areas or cleaning with harsh cleaning products to prevent respiratory problems. Household cleaning products result in 125,000 eye injuries each year according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which wearing protective glasses or goggles can help prevent.
Storing Cleaning Products in Unsuitable Locations
Keeping cleaning products away from children and pets is paramount, so it’s important to avoid storing them in low cabinets or out in the open where they may inadvertently be spilled or ingested. Be sure to keep chemical cleaners out of reach of little ones in a garage or upper shelf in order to avoid accidents.
Using a Dirty Vacuum
A vacuum is designed to suck up dirt, dust, and other debris from your home’s floors, but the bristles can end up housing dangerous bacteria. A study by the University of Arizona found that vacuum brushes contained traces of mold, E. coli and even feces—yuck! A vacuum should be disassembled and deep cleaned annually, but it’s also important to clean the filters on a monthly basis and the bristles after every few uses.
Related: 15 Cleaning Mistakes Everyone Makes
Unsafe Lifting Techniques
Muscle strains, disc injuries, and joint pain can all result from unsafe lifting. Whether you’re moving furniture, ladders, or cleaning equipment, practicing proper lifting techniques is key. It’s important to stretch before doing any heavy lifting and to bend your knees to avoid putting undue pressure on the back. Also, don’t attempt to do a job alone if it requires an extra set of hands.
Carelessly Cleaning Animal Droppings
All kinds of critters can take refuge in your basement, attic, or yard over the winter, and it’s important to be careful when cleaning up the messes they leave behind. Racoon and mouse droppings are particularly dangerous because they could harbor Baylisascaris procyonis or hantavirus, respectively. Be sure to wear equipment like gloves, a mask, and protective eyewear when removing animal feces from your home or yard.
Disposing of Cleaning Products Incorrectly
Be sure to check the labels on your cleaning products for how they should be disposed of. Many cleaning wipes, for example, can cause clogs if they’re flushed down the toilet. Some cleaning products may be considered hazardous waste and shouldn’t be placed in the trash. Instead, contact your municipality to verify the best way to dispose of these products.
While it’s always best to use the most natural cleaners available, some jobs require more serious chemicals. Opening the windows not only instantly makes a home feel fresher and cleaner, but proper ventilation also prevents you from breathing in the fumes of chemical cleaning products. Keep the windows open as much as possible during spring cleaning and use fans to increase ventilation even further.
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