Back-to-School Spring Cleaning

Every spring, a lot of folks get out the ol’ mop and broom and give their place a thorough cleaning. I’d like to count myself among that group, but the last thing I want to do once the sun decides to shine again is play a lengthy game of tag with a house full of dust. So I no longer make a feeble attempt at spring cleaning, but faithfully embark in a thorough back-to-school cleaning spree each year instead. Hey, I’ve actually learned to look forward to it!

So whether you faithfully bring out the Windex at the first sign of a daffodil, or you don’t even know what Windex is, here are some things (no Windex required!) that need attention too. So while you are busy shopping for all that cool new back-to-school stuff any prepared student might need, why not pick up some things so your home can be just as prepared?

Here are some things to get you started.

Smoke detectors

First off, if you don’t have at least one smoke detector, go out and buy one ASAP. Yes, it can be annoying if it goes off when you torch your toast. But that piercing beep may just save your life. If you already have a smoke detector, check the batteries and change them if you need to. No point in having the thing hanging around if it doesn’t have the juice to wake you up if your house if burning down, right?

Carbon monoxide detectors

See above. That’s right, read that paragraph once again. Most home detectors basically work the same, the only difference being what triggers that ear piercing, cringe inducing BBBBBEEEEEPPPPPP! If you have both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector but don’t know which is which, now would be a good time to get that figured out. After all, they’re part of the family, you know. They’ve seen you in your underwear, listened to you snore, and hung around through it all. Don’t you think you should be on a first name basis by now?

Fire extinguisher

Alright, so you have torched the toast. Royally torched it, that is. Flames are no longer flickering, they’re growing. Fast. And the smoke detector (with nice, new batteries!) is screaming at the top of its lungs. You reach for the fire extinguisher and …

I’m sure you know how to write a happy ending to that story. You heroically flatten those flames and save the day. Even though your trusty toaster is now toast itself, you bravely go out and buy a new one to put on your nice clean countertop. Aaaahhhh. Life is good!

Now that’s the ending we all want. A little toast flambÃ?© is no big deal if your fire extinguisher is in working order. If not? Well, home flambÃ?© doesn’t taste so sweet. A new toaster will be the least of your worries if you are busy trying to piece together the charred remnants of you life.

So go out and buy a fire extinguisher if you don’t have one already. And if you do, be sure to check the expiration date and buy a replacement if necessary. Also figure out how to use the thing before you stash it in the corner. Once the flames start burning, there will be no time to read the small print. And with fire, seconds not only count, they add up fast.

The fridge

While you’re in the kitchen, take a peek in the fridge. Hopefully everything is still in a recognizable state and not hairier than Godzilla’s arms. Once you’ve tossed the scary stuff, take a closer look at all that is left. Check expiration dates. Not just the month and day, but the year too. Yes, the year! I stayed in one woman’s home while she was on vacation and found an open bottle of salad dressing, front and center in her fridge, that was over five years old! Needless to say I didn’t eat much salad while I was there.

May as well do the freezer too, while you’re at it. Stuff can leak, ooze, spill, and do other undesirable things, then all that messy stuff just gets refrozen where you don’t want it. And check those expiration dates, please! Freezing can prolong the life of some things, but not forever.

Canned and boxed goods

Basically the same as the fridge and freezer, just not as cold. Canned goods last a long, long time, but it’s still a good idea to check for expiration dates so you know which cans to open first. Also, be sure the cans look healthy. Toss those that are bulging, dented, rusty, or look like they’re ready to just call it a day. Holes, tears, and bugs are the enemies of boxed foods. And the best place for the enemy is in the trash.

Cosmetics, personal items, and medications

Once things are in line in the kitchen, it’s time to get those little rubber duckies in line in the bathroom. Lotions, sunscreen, shaving cream, and other creamy stuff can all get rancid if you’re not careful. It probably wouldn’t hurt you to use it, but do you really want the first thing to come out of people’s mouths when they see you to be, “EEEEWWWW! What’s that awful smell?” Thought not.

Cosmetics are a little riskier to use once they have expired. Use an old mascara, eye shadow, or eyeliner and you could end up with a nasty eye infection. Not too pretty! Powdered makeup generally lasts longer than liquid, but not indefinitely. If anything looks funny or smells weird, make sure it’s final destination is the trash and not your face.

Medications, prescription or otherwise, may be your saving grace in sickness or in pain. If you’re popping old pills though, you would be lucky if the only thing they do is refuse to work. But then there is the temptation to take another, and another, and another thinking maybe you just haven’t taken enough. If the bottle says not to exceed ten pills a day, believe it. Even if medication has expired and you don’t feel like it’s doing it’s job like it used to, taking more than the recommended amount is never a good idea. And some meds can get stronger with old age. Toss those old meds and hopefully you will grow stronger with old age as well.

Just doing these few things should get you well on your way to a cleaner, safer, home. And, as you may have noticed in the past, once you clean one area, others seem to cry out for your attention too. When they do, go ahead and answer their call. You’ll be happy you did next year when back-to-school time rolls around and you pull out this list once again, knowing you’ve kept your home in A+ shape.

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