Cleaning and Clutter

Cleaning is an important part of maintaining a healthy home environment. These tips can help you clean your home safely and effectively.

  • Read labels and follow instructions

    Labels are instructions that tell you how to use a product safely and effectively. Always follow label instructions when using a cleaning product.

  • Don't mix cleaning products together

    It is usually not a good idea to mix two products together. Do not mix cleaning products unless the instructions tell you to.

  • Store properly

    Follow label directions for proper storage of all cleaning products. Keep products in their original container. Keep all products out of the reach of children, use child proof locks on cabinets, and make sure child-resistant caps and covers are on properly.

  • Choose carefully

    • Choose cleaning products carefully and use as little as possible to get the job done.

      To learn more about chemicals in many household products, visit the National Institute of Health's website. Some third-party organizations may certify cleaning products that minimize harm to human health and the environment, but it is important to evaluate the criteria used for certification. The New York State Office of General Services maintains a list of environmentally-sensitive cleaners approved for use in New York State schools.

    • If someone in your home has allergies or asthma, it may help to choose cleaners and personal care products that are unscented.
  • Learn the difference between cleaning and disinfecting

    Disinfecting and cleaning are two different things.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection."

    "Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection." Disinfect only in areas where it is necessary or required.

  • Reduce chemicals

    Avoid using spray products and aerosols. Instead, pour cleaner onto a cloth to wipe on the surface. Microfiber cloths and mops are best because less cleaning chemical is required.

  • Prevent dirt and debris from being tracked into your home

    Using walk-off mats near entrances to remove dirt from shoes and creating house rules, such as removing shoes upon entering the home, will help prevent dirt from being tracked inside.

  • Washable surfaces

    When possible, select bedding, furnishings, floor surfaces and window treatments that are washable. In general, floors and window shades with smooth or hard surfaces may be easier to clean. Wash your bed linens once a week in hot water and dry them on high heat.

  • Reduce clutter

    Reducing clutter can make it easier to clean and is also an important part of keeping your home free of pests like cockroaches and mice. To prevent problems with cockroaches or mice, don't leave dirty dishes or pet food out overnight and make sure garbage is stored outside in a can with a tight-fitting lid.

  • Remove dust

    Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Using a dry mop or rag is not a good idea because it can make the dust (and any allergens or irritants it contains) airborne and easier to breathe in. If possible, use a high performance vacuum cleaner with HEPA filtration.

    If you live in a house built before 1978, be sure to clean window sills and wells where lead-based paint chips and dust may accumulate. As noted above, use a damp rag to clean.

  • Keep your home dry

    Keep your home dry by fixing leaks, cleaning up standing water and using exhaust fans or opening a window to prevent steam from building up in the kitchen or bathroom. Keeping your home dry will reduce the potential for mold growth and pest issues that require extra cleaning.

  • Increase ventilation

    Open windows and doors or use an exhaust fan to increase ventilation when cleaning.

  • Avoid contact

    Try not to touch or breathe in chemicals (including cleaning products). To reduce your exposure, keep the area well-ventilated, wash your hands thoroughly after use and follow all label instructions on how to use the product safely.