Spring cleaning may get the most attention, but keeping a tidy house is a year-round task.
Whether it’s day-to-day chores or giving your house a good scrub, housework can be a challenging task for senior citizens who struggle with mobility issues, health restraints or low energy levels. Making this struggle worse, having a cluttered and unclean home can lead to anxiety and stress for the homeowner.
Here are some helpful cleaning tips for seniors to make the process easier and give you more time to do the activities you enjoy most.
Make A Checklist
One of the first things to do before making your home clean is to get organized. Anytime there is a significant cleaning project that includes several cleaning tasks, it is important to create a checklist of what needs to be done.
Your checklist should include day-to-day or weekly tasks or chores such as sweeping the floor and doing laundry.
But you should also consider adding these items to your checklist to enhance the safety in the home:
Organize the medicine cabinet. Remove all expired medications and ones you don’t use. Having too many empty bottles or partially-used bottles can add to confusion about which medications you should be taking. To properly dispose of unused or expired medicine, contact your local community’s waste service or town hall.
Check your food. It’s easy to accumulate food that eventually gets pushed to the back of the refrigerator or cabinets. Eliminate expired food or items that have spoiled.
Change smoke detector batteries. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends changing smoke detector batteries twice a year. To remember, consider adding this item to your list when it’s time for your clocks to fall forward or backward.
Update your emergency plan. Cleaning doesn’t have to only be about dusting your bookshelf or pulling out the vacuum. It’s important to periodically check safety systems in the home. These include:
1. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are properly working
2. Fire extinguishers to ensure they haven’t expired (each home should have at least two)
3. Emergency kits to make sure they include items like antibiotic ointment, Band-Aids, spare batteries and a current medication list
4. An updated list of who to call in case of an emergency
Use What’s Handy
Now that you have a list ready to go, use the tools that you have at your disposal to make clean-ups a breeze.
For hard-to-reach areas, a broom can save you some time and back pain. Use a clean broom and cleaner to scour baseboards or to scrub shower walls.
Enlist the help of your dishwasher to do more than cleaning pots and pans. Use it to rinse grandchildren’s toys, oven knobs and air vents. Just be sure to turn off the dry cycle when washing items that may melt from the heat, and remove metal items promptly to avoid rust.
Nobody likes to clean toilets. A household staple, white vinegar can come to the rescue. Next time you are cleaning, fill a mason jar with white vinegar, and pop a few holes in the lid. Place the jar inside your toilet’s water tank. This will keep your toilet spotless for weeks.
Belongings quickly can accumulate over the years. But having too many possessions can make a space feel chaotic, and worse, dangerous. Struggling to manage clutter also can take away precious time from what you enjoy most - enjoying hobbies and spending time with loved ones.
Here are some tips to create a clutter-free home when cleaning:
- Keep hallways and walkways clear. When tidying up, make sure no items are blocking high-traffic areas to avoid tripping hazards.
- Give every item a home. If you don’t have somewhere to put it, either discard it or get rid of something else to make room for it.
- Use small bins. Using small bins that can be easily carried from room to room is a great way to store craft supplies, wrapping accessories, cleaning supplies and gardening tools. Small bins can fit on most shelves or in most drawers and cabinets.
- Make three piles when decluttering. Separate items into “yes,” “no” and “maybe” piles. This can help you organize everything from clothing to decorations and kitchen appliances. If you haven’t used an item in more than a year and it holds no sentimental value, place it in the “no” pile.
For more information on eliminating clutter and downsizing, you can read our previous article Top 6 Senior Downsizing Tips.
Ask For Help
It is important to know your limitations. Cleaning a home can be overwhelming and stressful for anyone, especially older adults. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re not feeling well enough to tackle the chores by yourself.
Family members and friends can make the process go more smoothly and efficiently. They can help you:
Move heavy furniture
Access hard-to-reach spots
Carry trash and recycling outside
Deliver unwanted items to donation spots
You can learn more about the importance of having cleaning services for seniors in our previous article.