Household Health: Tips for Spring Cleaning

Are your new year’s resolutions long forgotten? Don’t feel guilty. Spring offers another chance for new beginnings.

A good place to start is with your home. A thorough spring cleaning not only makes it look spotless; it can create a safer, healthier environment for you and your family.

Before you roll up your sleeves, you might want to review some general tips on safe use of household products, on MedlinePlus. MedlinePlus actually has a laundry basket full of resources. Compare the health ratings of different detergents, for example, to choose the safest one.

Spring cleaning is a convenient annual reminder to update your medicine cabinet, too.  Discard duplicate, unused or expired medications, and those in a damaged or unlabeled containers. Remove and shred personal identity information from prescription bottles before throwing them away. Store your up-to-date medications in a cool, dry place—not in bathroom cabinets, which can be warm and humid. If you keep medication in the kitchen, make sure it is not near the sink, stove or other appliances that may emit heat.

Has it been a while since you’ve used your cleaning products? Has the label peeled off? Visit NLM’s Household Products Database to find important information such as chemical ingredients and proper disposal techniques. Symptoms such as eye and skin irritation can be avoided by looking at the acute health effects of product use section. You can also check which household products have been recalled.

Safety can be a family affair. Parents and teachers can play the NLM ToxMystery game (also available in Spanish) with children, to see if they can spot potential hazards in each room of a virtual house. Avoid storing household chemicals in containers that children may confuse with those that store food or drinks. Any hazardous materials should be kept out of their reach.

Start your Dustbusters! Happy cleaning!

Information from NLM resources compiled by contributor, Wendy Narez