Eight Essential Spring Cleaning Reminders
By Joe Fleming
With (slightly) warmer temperatures and little peeps of colorful flowers making their way out of the ground, Spring is starting to signal its imminent arrival. If you have caught the spring cleaning bug, keep these helpful tips in mind:
One of the easiest ways to tackle spring cleaning according to the experts is one room at a time. Not only does this help you focus on tasks right in front of you, but it also gives you small wins that make you feel successful more often and empower you to build up to larger goals. If even one room seems a little too daunting, start smaller, like with the bathroom or even just the junk drawer in the kitchen.
Trash, Recycle, Donate
Before you go through a whole slew of things you need to eliminate, make sure you have enough bags or boxes available to organize them into items you want to throw out, items you want to recycle, and items you want to donate. Being able to immediately dispose of something into its proper receptacle means you won’t simply be placing it in another pile to worry about later.
Bonus tip: You may want another box for papers with sensitive data you would like to shred, like financial documents. You can take boxes of stuff to shred to your local office supply store or UPS and have them securely shredded for around $1/pound.
Don’t Forget Your Medicine Cabinet
If you are sitting on unused and outdated medications, now is the perfect time to dispose of them properly. When cleaning out your medicine cabinet, make sure to follow proper disposal instructions on the drugs themselves. Sometimes it is not ok to throw certain medications in the trash or down the toilet. Instead, the FDA recommends taking them to a Drug Takeback location or disposal receptacle at a participating pharmacy.
While your goal for spring cleaning may be to get organized and downsize your belongings, it is your health that will ultimately benefit! Removing large pieces of unused furniture and especially clutter from the floor can help reduce your risk of experiencing a fall in your home. Curled up rug corners, pet toys, and loose cords can also be serious trip hazards so make sure to address those as you clear common walkways in your home.
Add to Your Cash Flow
One great way to bring in a little extra cash is to sell gently-used items of value you re-discover while spring cleaning. While Ebay and Craigslist have been common platforms for private sales in the past, apps like Facebook and Nextdoor are also making it easy to quickly list items for sale and connect with local residents who are interested in buying them. Furniture, clothes, decor, silver flatware . . . chances are you have something of value that you simply aren’t using anymore.
Don’t Overdo It
It’s easy to get carried away once you get on a spring cleaning roll, but it is especially important to remember to take frequent breaks and avoid heavy lifting. All the bending, twisting, turning, lifting, and crouching that happens when you give your home a thorough cleaning can take its toll on your joints and muscles. In addition to taking breaks and stretching, wearing a compression support for your lower back may help, as can utilizing tools like reacher grabbers, hand trucks, and dollies. When in doubt about a large job, ask for help from a neighbor, family member, or friend.
Protect Your Hands
As you age, your hands naturally lose muscle mass, flexibility, and skin elasticity. One thing that can make aging skin even worse, however, are the harsh chemicals commonly used to clean surfaces around the home. Make sure you are protecting your hands during spring cleaning by wearing rubber gloves whenever you use cleaning solutions and washing and moisturizing hands when you are finished.
While much of spring cleaning is addressing what has already happened in your home, another significant part of it is planning ahead for emergencies. Use your spring cleaning time as an opportunity to take care of tasks like updating and posting emergency contact information somewhere in your house and updating the Medical ID information on your smartphone. You may also want to create an up-to-date list of the medications you are taking with the dosages and contact information for your doctor as well.
And finally, make sure to take inventory of your living environment during spring cleaning and make note of areas where small safety upgrades could be a smart idea. Updating stair railings and installing grab bars in the bathroom, for example, are simple yet effective ways to prevent falls and help you age in place longer.