Spring Cleaning Checklist for Home Safety
Trees and flowers are bursting with color again after a long winter, which means it's time to brighten things up indoors as well. Spring cleaning is a practical tradition -- homes often collect more dust over the winter, and it's finally warm enough to let in the fresh air -- but it's also a great opportunity to conduct an annual safety inspection of your home.
Before we get into the home safety checklist, let's make sure we avoid spring cleaning safety hazards by reviewing a few safety reminders.
Indoor and outdoor spring cleaning safety tips:
- Practice ladder safety.When cleaning gutters, high windows, ceiling fans and other areas that require a ladder, always wear non-skid shoes and ensure that the ladder is stabilized on level ground. You should ideally have a partner hold the ladder for you, but if you must use a ladder alone, always let someone know first.
- Read all cleaning product safety labels. Safety warnings about ventilation, burns and other chemical hazards are vitally important. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia creates a potentially fatal toxic gas.
- Keep children safe.Make sure your cleaning solutions, trash bags and other supplies are kept out of their reach.
- Lift with the knees.When moving furniture and other large objects, practice proper lifting posture and consider wearing a back brace for additional support.
- Wear a dust mask and eye protection.When you're cleaning out especially dusty or dirty areas, a simple disposable dust mask and pair of goggles can spare you some irritation.
How to Spring Clean for Home Safety
- Deep clean your dryer.Even if you clean the lint trap after every load, your dryer is accumulating flammable lint particles in other areas. Thoroughly clean your dryer by moving it away from the wall and wiping down every surface. Use a vacuum hose attachment or long, flexible brush to clean out the lint trap inlet and the vent pipe. If your lint filter appears clogged, clean it with a nylon brush and water.
- Clean around your gas furnace.While you're replacing your furnace filter, vacuum up dust and remove any combustible items like paper, paint or fuel. If you didn't get your furnace tuned up last year, don't skip it this year -- a professional inspection is your best defense against heat exchanger cracks that can release carbon monoxide into your home.
- Maintain your emergency detectors.Your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be dusted with a dry cloth and checked with the test button. Replace the batteries if they're more than six months old, and replace the entire unit if it's past its printed expiration date.
- Check your fire extinguisher.If you don't have at least a small kitchen fire extinguisher, it's time to get one. But if you do have one, check its label and inspection tag for an expiration date. If it hasn't expired, check the pressure gauge to ensure it's in the proper range. Any rechargeable fire extinguisher with no inspection tag or which hasn't been inspected for more than a year should be professionally serviced.
- Inspect for mold.This is especially important in bathrooms, laundry rooms and wherever there is moisture. Mold has a distinct musty smell and appears as dark, fuzzy spots on surfaces. If left to spread, it can cause serious respiratory health problems. You should clean any mold you find with bleach, but it's also important to locate and address the underlying cause, which could be a leaky pipe, an air conditioning problem or a breach in your home's exterior.
- Manage electrical cords.As you clean each room, check to make sure power cords and extension cords don't present a tripping hazard. Inspect all cords for damage and immediately discontinue use if you find a punctured sheath. Ensure that cords aren't running under rugs or around door frames, as this can lead to damage.
- Audit your emergency kit.Some things in your emergency kit are built to stand the test of time. But others like batteries, canned goods and bottled water must be replaced every so often.
- Schedule a chimney sweep.If you have a fireplace, you should have your chimney inspected and swept annually to prevent fires, carbon monoxide accidents and structural problems. This maintenance is best performed in the fall, but chimney sweeps can book up early, so schedule it now while you're in a spring cleaning state of mind.
Spring cleaning is a big job, but when done right, it leaves your home smelling fresh, feeling comfortable and safer than it was before. Roll up your sleeves and incorporate these tasks into your spring cleaning list!