Spring Cleaning and Child Safety

As fresh air and sunshine replace snow and rain, 78% of Americans roll up their sleeves and do some spring cleaning, according to the American Cleaning Institute’s annual National Cleaning Survey.

Spring cleaning can be a great family activity, but it’s also a time to think about safety.

Check for safety issues as you clean

Here are some questions to consider as you tidy or scrub:

  • Is your furniture secure? Children like to climb on furniture, and it can be dangerous if a bookshelf or big TV topples. Anchor furniture to the wall for safety.
  • Does your home have tripping hazards? Cords and cables, insecure mats, and even toys left on the floor can trip people when they walk. Busy families might not even notice obstacles like bottom drawers that get left open or a collection of toys sitting on the stairs.
  • Are cleaning supplies stored safely? If you keep them under the sink, make sure you use cabinet latches to keep them away from kids. If your kids can get through safety latches, put chemicals up high.

In order to avoid falls and other household accidents, it makes sense to tidy up clutter before you start to scrub surfaces. This is also a good time to check your smoke detectors and change the batteries. Also make sure you know where your fire extinguisher is. Check the date on it — they expire.

Use nontoxic cleaners

We’re all using more disinfectants during the pandemic, but there are different levels of toxicity in different cleaners. It’s probably time to give up bleach and ammonia. If you use them, make sure you never combine the two. Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia creates dangerous fumes. 

The CDC recommends using soap and water first to clean surfaces. Then use a household disinfectant. Products containing hydrogen peroxide or thymol offer an effective but less toxic formula. However, disinfectant wipes and sprays from major brands like Clorox and Lysol are EPA approved. If you’re not sure, you can check at the EPA website

Wipe down hard surfaces with enough disinfectant to make surfaces wet. Allow to air dry. For toys and other surfaces children make contact with, rinse with water after they dry.

If you use a bucket for your cleaning, make sure you don’t leave it where kids can get into it. Empty the bucket and store it safely when you’re through with it.

Involve your kids

Kids who are too big to be banished to a playpen while you clean can help. Divide up chores and share. For example, a small child can carry dirty laundry to a hamper one piece at a time, a bigger kid can fold clean clothes, and a teen can run the washer and dryer. 

Sharing in household chores can be fun for children, and it can be easier for you to keep an eye on them while you work. It’s also healthy movement and a chance to build life skills.

Child-sized brooms let kids sweep, one of the earliest chores children can do successfully. Kids can  also enjoy putting old socks on their hands and dusting surfaces. Make sure to remove all the knick-knacks before they start. That can be a good job for a teenager.

When you finish the job, celebrate with a family dance party or a favorite easy meal.

Spring cleaning can actually reduce stress and make you feel better. It can also reduce dust and mold in your home, helping with respiratory wellness as we move into the spring allergy season. Combine it with household safety and enjoy your fresh, clean home.