It’s that time of year again… time to open the windows and beat the dirt, grime and dust of winter out of the house, a practice commonly known as “spring cleaning.” Actually, spring cleaning used to be very important in the “old days,” when people had stoves for heat that tended to make everything sooty. Now, we can clean anytime we want to (and our heaters burn much cleaner!), but it’s still a common tradition to dedicate a weekend or two to spring cleaning. Unfortunately, there are some safety hazards associated with spring cleaning, so while it’s great to get the kids involved in this as a family activity, it’s also important to be aware of some tips to keep everyone safe and healthy:
- Watch little fingers and toes (and big ones, too!). A lot of times, spring cleaning involves moving heavy furniture so that we can clean and dust underneath. While little ones might want to help, it’s very easy for small kids to get underfoot and get little appendages crushed or bruised. Make it a rule that only adults (you can include pre-teens and teens in this) can move furniture, and that younger kids need to stand out of the way.
- Use caution with what chemicals and products you allow kids to use to clean. It’s safe to give even the littlest helpers a spray bottle with water, a squirt of dishwashing liquid, and a few tablespoons of vinegar. They can also use baby wipes. Older kids can probably handle some of the “green” household cleaners. Save the harsher chemicals, like bleach and ammonia-based cleaners, for teens and adults. Remember never to mix cleaning products; this can create dangerous fumes.
- Don’t leave buckets of water laying around if you have toddlers. Fledgling walkers are top-heavy and it’s possible for them to drown in a bucket with as little as a couple of inches of water inside. If you need to leave the room when mopping or cleaning outdoor equipment, dump the bucket or take it (or the child) with you.
- Don’t leave ladders set up. They’re just too tempting to young children. If you are cleaning out gutters or washing windows, take the ladder down when you leave the area.
- Make sure someone is watching the youngest children. It can be easy to get involved in a cleaning task and, particularly if it’s in the garage or outdoors, it can also be easy to lose track of your littlest ones! Make sure that you know who is responsible for small children, and if you need the help of the only other adult, ask an older child or hire a mother’s helper to watch your toddler or preschooler for an hour or two.
- Don’t rush. It doesn’t all have to get done in one day or one weekend. The more you are rushing to get the spring cleaning done, the greater the chance of injury. So take it easy and remember that you can work on it over the course of several weeks.
Do you have any great spring cleaning tips to share?