20 Essential House Cleaning Safety Tips

You don’t want to be that person.  The one that was injured, or damaged their home, doing the very normal, daily task of cleaning house.  Because even though it’s a common activity, it does carry risk.  So take a moment and  read on for a list of basic safety precautions that everyone should be using.  

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We often feel so comfortable in our own home that we can slack off on the safety precautions we know we should take.  And  cleaning is a common area where this happens.  We talk about using a house cleaning checklist, so we created this checklist for safety. But by following some simple rules of thumb, you can dramatically reduce the risks involved, for yourself and your family.

If in doubt, don’t.

Common sense rules the day here.  Maybe you’re tempted to stretch just a little farther than comfortable on that step ladder, or pile on a few more items in that laundry basket to carry down the stairs, or leave an open bottle of cleaning solution “just for a minute”.  When you know you’re pushing a limit or taking a risk, resolve to take a few extra minutes to do things safely.

• Read and follow instructions.

Be sure to read cleaning supply labels, manuals that come with appliances, and care instructions for your belongings and take them seriously.  This can save you from accidentally damaging our home or exposing yourself to an unhealthy or dangerous situation.

• Avoid tripping and falling hazards.

Stay alert and present.  And develop good habits that help avoid potential hazards.  For example, stand on a step ladder when you need to reach something, keep the stairs clear, put away electrical cords immediately after use, empty and move buckets as soon as you’re done with them, and let people know when floors are wet and slippery..

• Use the right tool for the job.

Not only is it safer, but it makes just about any job easier as well.  A good example is the step ladder.  When you need to reach a high space, don’t just look around and step up on anything that happens to be nearby.  Buy a convenient, fold-away step ladder that doesn’t take up much space, but provides a safe, balanced way to reach high places. We all improvise and make do with what we have when we need to, but if it’s putting you or your belongings at risk, it’s worth doing it right.

• Wear protective clothing.

Household cleaners, even mild ones, are not made to be in contact with the human body.  Skin absorbs everything, so always wear appropriate gloves.  Eyes are vulnerable to splashes and fumes, so consider eye protection.  Inhaling fumes and fine mists affects our nasal passages and lungs, so consider a facemask.

• Wear the right shoes.

We usually wear comfortable clothes to clean.  And your slippers or flip-flops may be comfy, but they’re not the safest footwear choice.  Be sure to wear shoes that provide good balance and traction.  This will minimize tripping and falling hazards.

• Ask for an extra set of hands when needed.

It may feel like an unnecessary interruption to stop what you’re doing and ask for another set of hands.  But it’s much better than pulling a muscle and having to work around that for days or weeks.  Remember this the next time you are moving a refrigerator, a sofa, or some other bulky piece?

• Use care around food or food prep areas.

Don’t let cleaners come in contact with food, cookware, plates, glasses, etc.  Clear these items from a counter before you sanitize it.  And be sure to remove any cleaner residue before putting things back.

• Clean up after cleaning.

The last 5% of a task is sometimes the hardest part, but it’s important. Develop the habit of cleaning up immediately after you’re finished. Don’t let products or tools sitting around.  Also, clean your cleaning tools regularly and store them properly. You’ll reduce hazards, keep you cleaning supplies in good condition, and make it easier the next time you have to clean.

Spring Cleaning Safety Tips for Home

No matter what climate you live in, Spring Cleaning is all about giving *everything* a good, deep clean.  It’s the time to freshen up and restore your home.  Odds are you’ll be completing your Spring Cleaning Checklist alongside you regular cleaning, so keep up with the everyday safety tips (above).  But also remember these tips for a safer annual cleaning. 

• Be aware of outside conditions.

Spring cleaning usually entails outside jobs as well as inside.  Watch for soft ground from melting snow, slushy areas, and slick wet surfaces.  

• Be careful accessing and using large tools.

You may need to get to large items that you haven’t used in a while, such as a ladder or power washer.  Take time getting them out of their storage space and remind yourself of the normal safety precautions when using them.

• Pace yourself.

And don’t try to do it all at once. Spring cleaning is usually more strenuous than regular cleaning, so set yourself a reasonable schedule.

How to Use Cleaning Products Safely

We all have our own collection of cleaning supplies that we like to use.  (If you’d like some new ideas, see our Essential House Cleaning Supplies List.)  And they range from extremely mild to extremely caustic.  No matter what products you use, it’s important to use them all safely!

• Use the mildest product that works.

This is a rule of thumb to keep your home safer and healthier for everyone in it. In general, the milder a product is the less safety issues it presents.  So switching out a harsher cleaner for a milder one is a good idea, as long as it gets the job done.  

• Don’t think natural cleaners are harmless.

Natural cleaners still contain ingredients designed to dissolve grease, remove dirt, and disinfect.  In other words, “natural” or “green” doesn’t mean they aren’t still potentially dangerous.  So don’t let your guard down.  Continue taking your normal precautions and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

• Don’t mix cleaners.

It’s no joke.  They often contain very strong chemical ingredients and mixing them together can easily create a very dangerous situation.  Serious bodily injury and/or damage to your property are very real possibilities.

• Limit access to all cleaning products.

They should definitely not be accessible to children, pets, or vulnerable adults.  This may mean storing them out of reach, or keeping them in a locked cabinet.  Be careful not to let your guard down while you’re using them.  Always keep containers closed and don’t leave them unattended.

• Ventillate the area you’re cleaning.

Ventillation is always important.  It reduces fumes, dust, and allergens when cleaning.  If possible, opening your windows is great, but at least turn on exhaust fans.  And if you have a room with no ventillation, be aware of how long you spend cleaning it and the products you’re using, to limit exposure.  

• Keep cleaners in original labels.

Don’t rely on memory.  Always have the manufacturer’s labels available to reference in case of questions or an emergency.

• Label all home made cleaning products.

Make it easy to see what the ingredients are, what the cleaner is meant to be used for, and what (if any) are the directions for use.

• Store cleaning products properly.

This is an important part of your safety measures.  In general, here are the storage conditions to meet.

  • Dry
  • Temperature controlled
  • Not near open flame or heat source
  • Off the floor
  • Away from living space if possible, like in the garage

Wrap Up

We have so many options when it comes to keeping our homes clean.  But we need to be aware of the inherent risks involved in these everyday activities.  Having in a safe home cleaning routine isn’t difficult, it just takes a little knowledge and some good habits.

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