If you’re anything like me, cleaning is a lot like ripping off a Band-Aid: I want it done quickly, efficiently and without leaving behind a bunch of nasty residue.
Turns out, that attitude is a surefire route to disaster. Hasty, unplanned cleaning could send you nose-diving off a ladder, tripping down the stairs or ending up with noxious chemicals splurting in your face. Broken bones, strained muscles, chemical burns — who wants that?
Rebecca Hare is a certified professional organizer and owner of Simply Living, a consulting business for people who need their homes or offices organized. Hare sees everything from serious hoarding issues to families who simply don’t have time to get things cleaned up — all organizational nightmares that, oftentimes, have psychological roots.
“I try to come up with organizing solutions for the rest of their lives,” she says.
Hare, who also owns a housecleaning service, says a lot of organizational tactics are good to apply to big spring cleaning projects, too.
“Choose one area to clean,” she says. “I would choose maybe my garage. I would go to my garage and stay there and get that done. A lot of people jump [from room to room] and don’t complete anything.”
OK, so once I’m in the garage, how do I keep myself from falling off a ladder there, or watching my husband throw out his back while being unnecessarily macho with too-heavy boxes?
“I would get everything up off the floor. Gather everything around, get it in one spot and go from there,” she says. “Especially for hazardous things. Like little toys that have wheels — you could easily step on that and hurt yourself.”
But what about my macho man?
Hare says get help. Don’t lift anything and put your health in jeopardy. She points to organizations like Goodwill that have pick-up programs for some donation items. Heck, post a “you haul it, you keep it” advertisement on Craigslist. Don’t sacrifice yourself for the sake of cleaning.
Sometimes getting injured while cleaning starts with the smallest thing, Hare says.
“It could happen very easily,” she says. “You’d be surprised what people have laying around on their kitchen floors. Not only boxes of junk, but things like hammers. They say ‘I was fixing something in the bedroom, and I didn’t take it back out.’”
For that reason, Hare suggests that people simplify their homes. Pare down, donate, purge what you don’t need.
“More is not so good. Less is better,” Hare says. And when you have less, it’s easier to clean up and stay organized. “When you’re organized, you don’t have five, six of the same thing. You don’t have five staplers in your office.”
Safe Cleaning Checklist
Choose one area to clean and finish it before tackling other spaces. This strategy keeps you more focused and motivated and ensures success for completion.
Gather all cleaning products and tools necessary for the designated area. This cuts down on hurrying, wasting time, and unnecessary steps that could lead to tripping or falls.
When clearing out any old paint cans, unusable brushes, all flammable items, car products and cleaning products, place in separate container for special recycling.
If in doubt, do not open any container that has been used and then sealed for the season. Be safe and wear a facemask for these tasks, just in case.
When using ladders of any size, do not overextend by stepping on top rungs to reach higher places. The chances of losing your balance and tipping the ladder are greatly increased. Check to make sure that the ladder is grounded and steady. Take your time when ascending and descending.
Wear appropriate gloves for both indoor and outdoor clean-ups. Helps to prevent minor or major lacerations and harmful bacteria exposure.
Always wash hands when finished or when interrupted from your cleaning.
— From Rebecca Hare of Simply Living