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Cleaning and Our Health: Springing into Healthy Cleaning Habits


spring cleaning

Table of Contents

Cleaning and Our Health

Physical Health Benefits

Mental Health Benefits

How do I get Started with Cleaning?

Getting Started Around the House

Getting Started with the Kitchen

Getting Started with the Bathroom

Cleaning and Our Health

Cleaning regularly and maintaining an organized home can positively not only our physical health but our mental health as well. However daunting the task of cleaning an entire home or apartment may appear, the benefits can be worth it in the end. Spring can be a great time to set your cleaning habits for the rest of the year and beyond.

Physical Health Benefits

Immune System Strength and Respiratory Health

Dust, pet dander, and allergens can make their way and settle into our homes, affecting our respiratory health and immune system.

Promote Wellness

Disinfecting is an important part of cleaning that can help us avoid illness, whether it’s foodborne, bacterial, or viral. Regularly clean and disinfect your most used items, which could include your phone, keyboard, bedding, and bathroom and kitchen towels. The kitchen is usually the first place foodborne illness originates, so washing produce and regularly disinfecting surfaces and the fridge can help stop foodborne illness.

Avoiding Falls

Decluttering and organizing can help you avoid falls in the home. Keep walkways clear of shoes, rugs, toys, and any other miscellaneous items. Use shoe racks, storage bins, and shelves as designated storage places.

Physical Fitness

Findings from a study on the relationship between physical activity and features of the study subjects’ neighborhoods showed that the interior condition of the study subject’s home affected their physical activity. “If you spend your day dusting, cleaning, doing laundry, you’re active,” says NiCole Keith, one of the leads on the study and associate professor in the Department of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Mental Health Benefits

Focus

Clutter can negatively affect our focus whether we’re conscious of it or not. One study found that when we have a lot of objects in our field of vision, they compete for our attention and limit our processing capacity. Decluttering becomes an important part of cleaning as a way to increase our focus.

Mood and Stress

As part of increasing focus, decluttering can also help increase our overall mood and decrease our stress levels. Based on one study’s analysis of speech patterns and how study subjects talked about there homes, those with higher ‘restorative home scores’ had decreased daily depressed mood.

How do I get Started with Cleaning?

Knowing the benefits of cleaning sets a good foundation but knowing where to start is just as if not more important.

Clean Room by Room

Think of spring cleaning as a room-by-room project. Prioritize your rooms by time or overall workload and start at the top of each, dusting first and vacuuming/sweeping last.

Sort as You Go

As you clean, sort your belongings into four categories: trash, give away, store, or keep.

Get the Family Involved

A family reward can keep everyone on track for finishing the clean. Set realistic expectations for how much kids can do and for the quality of what they finish. Try specific directions such as “make sure all of x is put away in y place” versus a broad direction to “clean up.”

Choose the Right Tools 

Keep cleaning products to a minimum - too many can create their own clutter. Look for one or two all-purpose cleaners and washable microfiber cloths. Worried about allergies? Wear a dust mask for inside cleaning and a pollen mask for outdoor work.

If you or someone living with you has respiratory issues, watch out for cleaners with volatile organic compounds (often found in citrus and pine-scented cleaners). You can also try baking soda and water, vinegar and water, and other ‘homemade’ cleaners. Always research before mixing household items for appropriate ratios and for safety.

Make It Fun

Put on your favorite music to get you moving. Set cleaning goals for every half hour or hour and reward yourself if you meet your goal.

Areas and items to consider tackling this spring clean:

Getting Started Around the House

Ceiling fans

  • Use an old pillowcase to cover and wipe down each fan blade - the pillowcase catches dust as it falls.

Blinds

  • Work top to bottom, moving from left to right across each blade.

Curtains

  • Use a lint roller on the lower half.
  • For a deeper clean, toss them in the dryer with a damp towel, run an air-fluff cycle for 15 minutes, then hang them up right away.

Couches/pillows

  • Use vacuum attachments in couch crevices.
  • Toss smaller pillows into the dryer for 10-15 minutes to kill dust mites & freshen the pillows.

Mattresses

  • Washing your bedding (sheets, pillowcases & blankets) regularly can reduce allergens & dust.
  • Throw smaller pillows into the dryer for 10-15 minutes to kill dust mites & freshen the pillows.
  • Vacuum your mattress & sprinkle some baking soda over it (you can mix in a few drops of an essential oil if you’d like).
  • Come back & vacuum the baking soda after a few hours for a fresher mattress.

Tables/shelves

  • Move tables and shelves to vacuum/mop/sweep under them.

Carpet

  • Vacuum starting in the corner away from the door.
  • An annual steam cleaning can help reduce allergens & freshen the house.

Trash cans

  • Hose down the inside.
  • Spray it with a disinfectant.
  • Scrub with a handled brush.
  • Rinse it out either outside or in the tub.
  • Place upside down to dry.

Doors/windows

  • As you clean doors & windows, check for and seal any air leaks in the frames that could allow moisture inside.

Getting Started with the Kitchen

Chrome/glass/ stainless steel

  • Spray these surfaces with a 50% water/50% rubbing alcohol mixture.
  • Polish and clean with a dry cloth, removing water spots and fingerprints.

Lime buildup

  • Lay vinegar-soaked paper towels over lime buildup to soften the deposits & make them easier to remove.
  • Wipe down with a clean towel.

Pantry

  • Take everything out of the pantry and throw out old or stale items as you organize. Put like items together as you refill the pantry.
  • Put newer items towards the back – follow “First In, First Out”

Refrigerator

  • Take everything out of the fridge and throw out expired items.*
  • Work top to bottom as you wipe the interior and each shelf down with hot, soapy water. Wipe with clean water after to rinse off the soap and dry with a clean towel.
  • An optional step after cleaning with hot, soapy water is to use a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach in 1 gallon of water to sanitize.
  • Wipe down food and drink containers with hot, soapy water before returning them to the clean fridge.

*Don’t leave food out for more than 2 hours.

Oven

  • Remove any splatters/dried food with a damp sponge.
  • Run the self-clean cycle.

Microwave

  • Heat a cup of 50% water/50% white vinegar for 5-10 minutes to loosen any sticky or caked on food.
  • Wipe the microwave down with a clean towel.

Kitchen Sink

  • You should try to deep clean the sink every day, not just during spring cleaning.
  • Don’t let dishes or food waste build up to help avoid germ growth. 

Getting Started with the Bathroom

Tile

  • Spray down tile first, allowing the cleaner to sit while you clean.
  • Use a baking soda & hydrogen peroxide paste on moldy/mildewy grout.

Sink/counter/faucet

  • Clear the counter surface completely.
  • Wipe the counter and faucet with a white vinegar/hot water mixture then a clean towel or cloth to dry.
  • Throw away old or unused items and wipe down any items you’re keeping before putting them back on the counter.
  • Clean out all the bathroom drawers.
  • Wipe down the inside of the drawers with a microfiber cloth.
  • Throw away any old or unused items and wipe down any items you’re keeping before putting them back in the drawers, organizing as you go.

Shower heads

  • Spray the shower head with a 50% water/50% white vinegar mixture.
  • Wipe down with a clean towel or cloth to remove the grime.


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