Where Are My Gloves?
10 Common Spring Cleaning Mistakes
By Colleen Langenfeld
Do you like to clean?
Hm. 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 store.
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 at all.
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 yourself!
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
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 as possible?
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. Dispose 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
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!