Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Some of the tasks that you can perform during your annual spring cleaning may actually improve your family's health. The following ten spring cleaning activities will help make you, and your home, healthier and safer:
- Thoroughly dust your home and clean or replace air conditioning and heating filters; clean all ducts and vents to decrease your exposure to pollens and other airborne allergens. For more, please read the Indoor Allergens and Allergy Treatment Begins At Home articles.
- Organize your medicine cabinet, discarding expired medications and old prescription medications no longer in use. Your pharmacist can advise you about the best way to dispose of old medications, since tossing them into the garbage may be dangerous. Many pharmacies and clinics offer a medication take-back service for free. The U.S. FDA also has issued guidelines about the safe disposal of drugs. You'll reduce your chances of becoming victim of a medication error and gain some storage space.
- Check the garage and basement for old cans of paint, thinners, oils, solvents, stains, and other forms of "toxic" trash. Call your city or county sanitation department to find the location of the hazardous waste drop-off center, and get rid of anything you're not going to use.
- Likewise, check under the sink and around the house for old, potentially toxic cleaning products and dispose of these.
- Have your chimney professionally cleaned. You'll reduce the chances of carbon monoxide exposure from your chimney when it's fire season again.
- Clean all mold and mildew from bathrooms and other damp areas with non-toxic cleaning products. Mold is a fungus which can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible people. For more, please read the Mold Questions, Answers, and Facts and Mold Patrol for Mold Control articles.
- Check your rugs to be sure that rugs on bare floors have non-skid mats. Older mats that have become dusty may need to be washed or replaced to provide effective protection from falls. Outfit your bathrooms with non-skid bath mats.
- Inspect outdoor playground equipment and be sure that it remains sturdy and in good repair. Pay particular attention to guardrails, protruding bolts, and other potential sources of injury.
- Change the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. For more, please read the How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning article.
- Collect old batteries throughout the house for disposal in a battery recycling or hazardous waste center.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Home & Recreational Safety." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 30 Aug. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/>.