With the entrance of spring, most people have been thankful to finally kick Old Man Winter out the door for the rest of the year, and frankly, slam the door in his face after such a harsh winter. For some, with the warm weather also comes the yearly task of creating a more immaculate home.

With the entrance of spring, most people have been thankful to finally kick Old Man Winter out the door for the rest of the year, and frankly, slam the door in his face after such a harsh winter. For some, with the warm weather also comes the yearly task of creating a more immaculate home. Spring cleaning can be a daunting task, and many people have increased sensitivity to chemical cleaners, particularly young children and seniors. Marsha Alexander, Housing and Environmental Design Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, recommends several ways to keep spring cleaning safer for the family and the environment.



10  Use an alternative to chemical cleaners whenever possible.

Water and vinegar is an inexpensive and safe window cleaning solution rather than using a harsh chemical cleaner. Vinegar or lemon juice can clean chrome fixtures, remove rust, and remove hard water spots.



9  Always clearly label the storage container with the container’s contents and mixing instructions.

This way there is no confusion after the product has been out of sight, out of mind for a year.



8  Keep hazardous products out of the reach of small children.

Do not leave products unattended or unsealed. “If the phone rings or you are called out of the room, close the product and take it with you or take the child with you,” Alexander says.



7 Store all hazardous products away from food items in locked cabinets with childproof latches.

If pregnant, avoid toxic chemical exposure. Many toxic products have not been tested for their effects on unborn children.



6 Limit the use of aerosol products where possible.

Aerosol products tend to release more chemicals into the air because they disperse the product into very tiny, airborne droplets. Alexander says she highly recommends using a pump spray, which makes it easier to direct the product toward its intended use, releasing fewer chemicals into the air.



5 Use only the specified amount.

“I believe in using products sparingly and only in the specified amount,” Alexander says. “Twice as much does not mean improved results.”



4 Keep your poison control number posted by the phone in case of emergency.

In Missouri, that number is 1-800-222-1222.



3 Safely discard toxic and flammable materials you no longer need.

Alexander recommends calling your city to inquire where a hazardous waste site is located in the area, and to never mix chemicals in the trash that will wind up in the landfill. For a list of hazardous waste collection events, see story on page 8.



2 Never mix household products or chemicals together unless specifically instructed.

“A  lot of people think that they can mix different things and it will be more powerful, but that can be very dangerous.” If products are mixed, additional toxic chemicals may be released into the air through chemical reactions, she says. Common examples are ammonia and chlorine bleach, which are found in many household cleaners. When mixed, they form a toxic gas.



1 Always read product labels.

This is the most important tip to remember when it comes to safe spring cleaning, Alexander says. Being careful to read the manufacturer’s warning labels and instructions, and following them, is the easiest way to keep yourself and your family safe.