Now that winter’s over and it’s finally done snowing (fingers crossed!), spring is here. With it comes spring cleaning.
Giving your home a thorough cleaning can put you at risk for many injuries and hazardous situations. If you follow these tips, though, you should be able to avoid the majority of the dangers that spring cleaning can present.
Know Your Products & Chemicals
One of the dangers that may skip your mind is the chemicals you’ll be using to clean. Many cleaning supplies include hazardous chemicals that can poison you or do significant damage to your body. After all, cleaning product related poisonings of children is still a very real problem. This makes reading the label of your cleaning products, and storing them in a safe place, important.
While you may still need to use cleaning supplies with hazardous chemicals, knowing what’s in the products will help you know how to handle them. For example, if you see that a product has bleach in it, you should know to wear gloves, keep it away from your eyes, and not breath it in. Those happen to be good rules of thumb when dealing with any cleaning solution, to be fair.
Never, ever mix bleach with anything that has ammonia or acids.
Additionally, knowing what’s in your products can stop you from mixing cleaning products that should definitely not be used together. Never, ever mix bleach with anything that has ammonia or acids. Ammonia can be found in some glass and window cleaners and some paints. It’s also in urine, so you must be careful when cleaning the toilet. Acids are in many cleaning supplies like glass cleaners and drain cleaners, to name a few.
Combining ammonia and bleach creates chloramine gas, which can severely damage your lungs. Mixing acids and bleach creates chlorine gas, which can straight up kill you. So, yeah, read the labels and don’t mix cleaning products.
Embrace the Fresh Air
While you’re cleaning, especially with chemicals, it’s a good idea to ensure that any room you’re working in is well ventilated. Open your windows and doors to get fresh air flowing throughout the space. This can prevent the buildup of harmful chemicals emitted by your cleaning solutions, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Overexposure to VOCs can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and even cancer and organ damage.
Moving away from the dangers of chemicals, there’s also a chance you could fall, strain a muscle, or get a cut while cleaning. These can represent some of the most common issues facing seniors looking to freshen up their homes. Each year, over 540,000 injuries from slips or falls occur in North America. And, falls are incredibly dangerous for seniors.
As you’re cleaning, try to be mindful of wet floors, and make sure any ladder you use is secure and strong. If you’re nervous about your balance on step stools or ladders, look for an alternative way of cleaning hard to reach places.
Heavy is a subjective term, so if you’re unable to comfortably lift an item, get help.
Be careful about lifting items, especially heavy items. Heavy is a subjective term, so if you’re unable to comfortably lift an item, get help. This goes doubly for moving furniture. Even if you don’t need help lifting something, using proper lifting techniques is important. Anyone who’s ever had a sore back will instantly know why. Even lifting something lighter, like a broom or vacuum cleaner, improperly can strain your back and leave you aching for hours afterward.
If there’s one rule of safe lifting, it’s lift with your legs, not your back. What this means is generate the upward force you need to move something from the muscles in your legs, not the muscles in your torso. For a practical example, pick something light up off the ground. Did you bend your back at all? Then, you lifted with your back. Instead, bend your knees to lower yourself, pick the item up, and straighten your knees. Your leg muscles are more powerful than your back muscles and are better able to handle heavy lifting.
Ultimately, the best thing that you can do when spring cleaning is to be smart. Don’t go on a rickety ladder. Don’t inhale bleach fumes. Be careful walking on wet floors. But, it goes further than that. Warming up before you begin cleaning can also prevent injuries.
Soreness and fatigue is your body telling you to take a break.
As you’re cleaning, don’t push yourself too hard. If you start to feel tired or like you’re straining your muscles, take a break. Working too hard is really bad for your body. Probably not too shockingly, the phrase “no pain, no gain” isn’t necessarily true! Soreness and fatigue is your body telling you to take a break. Listen to it to prevent injury, lasting pain, or even just tiredness.
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Spring cleaning is a great tradition around the world as people everywhere take some time to make their homes spic and span. Participating in the action can hurt you if you’re not careful. This spring, remember our tips when you’re balancing on a chair, dusting your light fixture, and scrubbing the shower or tub. And, for the love of all that is good, lift with your legs!