Do you like to clean?
Hmm. I can probably guess your answer.
Most people find cleaning a necessary evil and even for
those of us who get a certain amount of satisfaction out
of this ongoing chore, we want the process to be quick,
efficient and effective.
If you employ a spring-cleaning ritual each year, you
especially want the task to go smoothly. Here are some
common cleaning 'mistakes' that can slow you down or even
be downright dangerous.
1. Not having the right tools or supplies for the job.
You don't clean your mirrors with toilet bowl cleaner
(I hope)! Not only is it not effective to do such a thing,
but it can be unsafe, as well. Likewise, assemble the right
sponges, scrub brushes, and spray bottles to do the job and
you'll see faster, easier results. Collect old toothbrushes
for hard to reach tiny corners and recycle old t-shirts
into hardworking cotton rags.
2. Waiting too long to clean.
Quick weekly cleanings generally take less time than
monthly scrubs when the dirt and scum has had time to
3. Running around for cleaning supplies.
If you are using non-toxic or 'green' cleaners that can
safely be stored inside your home (see number 9 below),
keep a separate supply on each level of your home. Store
them in a carrier or bucket (out of reach of children)
for easy toting. Keep a shopping list near your cleaning
supplies and when you are running low on something jot it
down. Simply collect the lists before you head to the
4. Lack of proper ventilation.
Are you using toxic cleaners? You are if you are using
most common store brands. They certainly work (kill germs)
but they work indiscriminately, often harming the
'good stuff' along with the 'bad stuff'. If the label on
your cleaner says to 'use with adequate ventilation' or
something similar, the US EPA (Environmental Protection
Agency) says to open windows and turn on fans. Breathing
these chemical vapors is hard on anyone's respiratory
system and if you have asthma or other related breathing
problems, you probably shouldn't be using these cleaners
5. Not using gloves.
Chemicals can be ingested, inhaled and absorbed through
the skin. (Your amazing skin is like a sponge...that's
why things like birth control and nicotine patches work
so well.) Getting a household chemical on your skin once
probably won't hurt you, unless you are extremely sensitive
or have an allergic reaction, but I'm guessing you've
cleaned your home more than once. Again, read the label.
Many products read 'eye and skin irritant'. Protect
6. Not having a place for everything.
Does your household struggle with clutter? Examine where
that clutter tends to pile up and take note of patterns.
Put another basket here, another bin there and you will
solve a lot of clutter problems quite easily. Set a
container at the bottom of your stairs and at the top
of your stairs for things that need to go up or down.
Once a day take the container with you and put the items
away. (This is a great task for children).
7. Bandaging messes instead of fixing them.
Let's say your dog regularly chooses one corner of your
porch to shake off in after coming indoors. You can keep
cleaning it everyday, scrubbing on the painted walls and
all the surrounding fixtures or you can place some plastic
sheeting on the wall and floor and move away any items that
are in his path. Additionally, you can try retraining him
to use a more convenient spot. The point is, you have to do
the job anyway, why not make it as efficient and painless
8. Do I dust first, or vacuum?
While there are plenty of opinions on the proper order of
dusting and vacuuming, make sure you are using your own
experience to guide you and increase your efficiency.
Taking a few moments to examine your processes in other
areas could reveal you're having to do double duty
unnecessarily. The kitchen floor may need sweeping, but the
time to do it is AFTER you cook, not before. Getting those
clothes out of the dryer promptly may save you from ironing
later. Cleaning the mirror in the bathroom is best done
last, after all the splashing from the sink is finished.
9. Storing household cleaning products incorrectly.
The US EPA states NOT to store cleaning products next to
food. For years I stored my household cleaning products
in the pantry, high up, on a shelf of their own. But then
I learned about outgassing. Ever walk down the cleaning
products aisle at your favorite grocery or discount store
and smell the chemicals from those sealed bottles and
boxes? For some people, their eyes burn and they cough.
Now think about bringing those products home, opening
them and leaving them in your storage closets for months
at a time. These are potent chemicals; make sure they are
doing the job you purchased them to do and ONLY that job.
Either store them in a locked cabinet away from your
family's living spaces or choose non-toxic products that
work just as well, but are safer.
10. Disposing of cleaners improperly.
Caustic chemicals are often not meant to be poured down
the drain. Doing so is hard on your pipes, can release
toxic fumes into the air and is polluting to your water
supply. And you certainly don't want to be mixing
chemicals! That is extremely dangerous! If you have
left-over cleaning products that are toxic and you want to
get rid of them, contact your local city government for
the hazardous waste disposal location in your community.
Since we all have to clean, why not make the process as
safe, efficient and effective as possible? Often it's not
a matter of doing MORE, but of doing DIFFERENTLY that can
really make a daily difference. Spend a little time
studying your home and your family's needs and see what
simple changes you can choose that will make a lasting
difference for your loved ones.
Colleen Langenfeld delivers helpful resources to
working moms. Find simple ways to make your home
and family healthier by visiting
http://www.paintedgold.com/1 and clicking on the
happy kids picture now!
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