Teach Me To (series)

Spring Cleaning – For The Sake Of Your Family’s Health

Spring cleaning

An informal poll I conducted recently indicates most women don’t bother with Spring cleaning. They simply keep up the best they can throughout the year.

In an era when we are afforded much more choice about how and where to spend our time and place our priorities, we don’t feel the pressure to keep house like our grandmothers did. They were stuck at home so they made their home a testament to their worth as a homemaker. Modern women tend to prioritize their children. They forgo housekeeping chores for spending time with their kiddos.

Read why that’s a problem itself in Good Moms Don’t Try To Raise Happy Kids.

Why Go Back To Spring Cleaning?

While this transition in emphasis from housekeeping to child-raising was being made, we noticed a corresponding increase in allergin sensitivity. Dirty houses make us and our kids sick. And the main allergen in our houses is dust mites.

Spring cleaning

Magnified dust mites on a pillow.

The first thing you need to know about dust mites is your house has them. Everyone’s does. Tens of thousands at least. Maybe more. They like your house because they feast on the 1/3 ounce of dead skin cells that you shed every week.

The good news is they’re only really visible under a microscope and they don’t bite or carry diseases. So that makes them almost beneficial, right? They’re like nature’s behind-the-scenes scavenging household cleaners.

However, there is bad news. Dust mites poop what they eat. Twenty times a day. And when they die, you breathe their little decomposing bodies – and their waste – into your lungs. Might not be so bad if we’re talking about barely perceptible amounts. I mean, you gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die, right?

But according to an Environmental Health And Safety Organization article on dust mites, “Beds are a prime habitat (where 1/3 of life occurs). A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. Ten percent of the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.” (Read more disgusting facts from their article here.)Dust mites poop what they eat. Twenty times a day. And when they die, you breathe their little decomposing bodies - and their waste - into your lungs. Click To Tweet

That volume is what gives us runny noses, itchy eyes and throats, coughs, sinus pain and pressure, blue-colored under eye bags, and triggers asthma attacks.

Ready For Spring Cleaning Now?

I don’t know about you, but reading about dust mites makes me want to burn my house down. Short of that, it inspires me to at least give it a thorough deep clean once or twice a year. If I just do it on the fly as I can throughout the year, things will be missed. Other “things” will multiply. Maybe our grandmother’s weren’t so backward after all.

So here’s my Spring Cleaning checklist to make sure dust mites (and fungal spores) are held at bay.

Step One – Don’t clean clutter

Go through your whole house and get rid of everything you don’t use or love. Junk it, donate it, or garage sale it.

Step Two – General tips

Clean your house top to bottom. Literally. Begin in the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms. This approach gives dust mite and mold territory the priority. If you live in a ranch-style house, still begin with the bedrooms. For every room, clean:

Walls – dust with a clean towel draped over a broom. Work in up/down strokes not side to side.
Baseboards and moldings – wipe down with your preferred cleaning solution & water
Vents – vacuum out
Windows – clean inside and out
Floors – vacuum and/or mop, paying close attention to edges and corners. Shampoo rugs.
Ceiling light fixtures/fans – dust & wipe with damp rag. Replace burned bulbs (w/ efficient LED).
Window treatments – wash or dry clean as instructions indicate
Large furniture – move to clean behind and under

Remember this is a once a year deep clean. Unless you enlist a team of team of paid professionals, you can’t expect to complete it in a day. Or even a weekend. Do not be deterred. Everyone who lives in your house must be a contributor to its upkeep. Use a checklist to help you progress through a systematic plan over the course of a month.

Step Three – Room specific plans

Bedrooms:

Strip bed and wash all bedding (including mattress pad and pillows) in 140-degree water to kill mites.  If you don’t already have them, invest in hypo-allergenic pillowcase and mattress covers to keep mites out. Vacuum and flip mattress. Clean headboard (if you have a padded headboard, consider replacing with anything else). Dust/wash lamps and loose decorative items. Dust/polish furniture. Clean and organize closets.

Bathrooms:

Scrub tub/shower. Decalcify shower head. Clean and organize vanity. Scrub sinks. Clean and disinfect toilet bowl inside and out. Shine mirror and metal accessories. Address mold issues with a bleach solution to eradicate.

Living/Family Rooms:

Vacuum and shampoo (with upholstery cleaner) upholstered pieces, especially under cushions. Run pillows in a hot dryer to kill mites and fluff. Dust and/or wash loose decorative items. Dust electronics thoroughly. Clean remotes with antibacterial wipes. Clean lampshades with a lint roller. Have wood-burning fireplace inspected and cleaned.

Kitchen:

Clean and organize fridge, freezer, cupboards, and pantry. Clean oven, under oven drawer, microwave, and dishwasher (if needed). Wash down outside of cupboards with de-greasing cleaner. Clean under fridge and stove/oven – be sure to look for mouse droppings. Clean out trash can with a disinfectant.

Dining Room:

Empty china cabinet and clean contents and shelves before replacing. Polish furniture and clean upholstered seats.

Laundry Room:

Clean washing machine dispensers and dryer lint trap thoroughly. Clean under machines.

Garage & Basement:

Sweep and wash floors. Look for rodent droppings and address that issue according to your conscience. Clean and organize what you have stored.

 

Spring cleaning

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