Our homes are not always the safe places we think! Keeping a clean home may not seem important, but having a dirty home can make you sick.
- People can, and often do, get sick from germs in the home. Kitchens and bathrooms can be a place where germs grow and multiply.
- Too much moisture can result in mold. Mold, along with dust and germs, makes the air you breathe unhealthy. Unhealthy air can make you sick.
- Lots of clutter can be a home for cockroaches, rats, and mice. These pests make the air unhealthy, food unsafe to eat, and can damage your home.
- Drips left on the floor can cause someone to fall and hurt themselves.
- Grease buildup in the kitchen can start a fire.
Are you convinced? Having a safe and healthy home – clean and pest free – can be simple. It only takes a few minutes of cleaning and organizing every day. Don’t let dirt and clutter pile up. If you do, it will be harder to clean.
First, you need some basic cleaning supplies. Your cleaning kit should include:
- Sponges for wiping and cleaning
- Cloths for cleaning and dusting
- Paper towels to wipe up wet areas
- Toilet brush ONLY for cleaning the toilet!
- Scrub brush to clean stubborn stains
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands
- Broom for sweeping floors
- Mop for cleaning floors
- Vacuum for cleaning carpets
- Dishwashing liquid for washing dishes
- Household cleaner for all other cleaning jobs
- Spray bottle for mixing household cleaners
- A box to hold cleaning supplies
To keep sponges and washcloths germ-free, rinse them in HOT, soapy water after every use.
To get rid of germs in the kitchen sponge, it is a good idea to throw it in the microwave for two minutes or run it through the dishwasher. Let it dry before reuse. That's it!
Keep lots of sponges on hand. Use different sponges for different cleaning jobs. Throw sponges out after a month or so of use.
Immediately dispose of sponges or cloths used to clean up human or animal waste.
You can buy household cleaners in the store, but they cost a lot. They also have chemicals that can irritate your lungs, especially if you have asthma. There are less expensive and less harmful household cleaners you can make. Here are some examples:
- White vinegar can get rid of germs and mold.
- Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water (one cup to one cup). Shake it up and you're ready to clean!
- Spray and scrub sinks, counter tops, toilets, showers and tubs, floors, refrigerator and wash windows with your vinegar and water mix.
- Warning: Don’t use vinegar on marble.
- To mix, put baking soda in a resealable container. Add enough water to the baking soda to make a paste.
- Use on hard to clean surfaces like tiles and stove tops. Rinse with water after use.
You don’t have to do everything all at once! Start a schedule - do a little every day. This way you can take control and keep dust, mold, and other germs from building up.
A Cleaning Checklist (Go to: https://ddssafety.net/everyday-life/healthy-homes/healthy-home-keep-your-home-clean) will help you set a routine. Print it out. Post it on your refrigerator. The checklist helps you remember what to do daily, weekly, and monthly.
Also check out The Healthy Home Checklist video: https://ddssafety.net/everyday-life/healthy-homes/video-healthy-homes-checklist.
Give special attention to cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms – hot spots for germs, mold and pests! Keep the sink, countertops, refrigerator, cutting boards, stovetop, and wherever food is stored or prepared, clean and germ free.
After cleaning, thoroughly dry surfaces. Wet or damp areas are a breeding ground for germs and mold. Throw out trash to keep insects, rats, and mice away.
Here are a few other jobs that should be done on an as-needed basis:
- Clean lint screen on clothes dryer every load
- Clean hood over stove at least once a month
- Check and change furnace filter every few months
Pets need a clean home too! Your pets live where you do. Pets can get sick if their home isn’t clean and tidy. It is important that your household cleaner is safe for your pet. Vinegar and baking soda are safe. To keep you and your pet healthy:
- Keep pet food separate from your food.
- Store pet dishes, utensils and can openers separately.
- Always wash your hands after touching your pet, their food, cages, litter boxes, and after picking up pet waste.
- Clean litter boxes every day. Pick up dog waste in a plastic bag and throw in the garbage outside.
Figure out what people already know about keeping their home clean. Then find out what they want to know. Go from there.
- Be informed – learn about things like pest control and mold prevention. Become familiar with, and use, the resources provided by the SafetyNet.
- Be practical – set goals. Focus on cleaning jobs that are doable. Make it fun!
- Be patient - give simple explanations. Demonstrate what to do. Give as much assistance as the person needs.
- Be positive - help people to understand that having a clean home will make a real difference in their lives.
- Use scare stories.
- Assume people understand what to do and how to do it – check for understanding.
- Assume people understand the importance of a clean and pest free home.
For the Healthy Home learning tools to use when working with the person you support go to: https://ddssafety.net/everyday-life/healthy-homes/all-about-healthy-homes.