Vol.2, No.6

Cleaning high places

Cleaning the highest places in your home can be challenging or even dangerous. Take a few simple precautions to make sure everying goes smoothly.

Feather duster
Photo Credit: Ann Morrison
When giving your home a thorough cleaning, you don't want to overlook the high places that often collect dirt and debris. Ceilings, top shelves, tall furniture, and other hard-to-reach areas sometimes attract dust from ceiling fans or open windows. Here are a few safety tips that can help you reach these areas.

1. Do the high areas first. You will be more alert and energetic and thus less likely to have an accident if you begin with these parts of your house. Also, you can brush the dirt and dust downward to be caught with lower-level dusting and vacuuming. Prepare your cleaning materials, such as dust mop, broom, cleaning cloth, and a bucket of warm, soapy water as well as some newspapers to set it on before you begin. Start in one room and work your way through the house or at least the parts you plan to tackle that day.

2. Use a sturdy stepladder. Check each step before setting foot on any of them. Balance the open legs evenly on the floor where you will be working. Make sure there are no uneven spots in the floor. Check the hinges to be sure they will hold and not fall open. Keep your cleaning materials nearby, but do not lean them against the ladder or try to take up too many items with you. Be sure there is adequate space for you to step onto and down from the lowest step of the ladder by not setting it in a cluttered area.

3. Make room to work. Occupy your toddlers with playtime in another room or in an enclosed area where you can keep an eye on them but they can't get to the ladder and climb or tip it. Have some open space for setting down articles from top shelves while you wipe off the shelf area. Turn off the ceiling fan so it doesn't blow more dust while you work. In fact, you may want to start by cleaning the fan first after turning it off. You can open a window for fresh air, but be careful if there are any strong breezes that might knock something into the ladder and jiggle it.

4. Prepare your dust mop or damp cloth before ascending the ladder. Leave it set while you remove all items from the top shelf of the cabinet or furniture you wish to clean. Carefully bring a manageable armload of items down the ladder and set them aside for separate dusting. Never carry more than you can comfortably handle without jeopardizing your balance. Alternatively, you can move the items from one half of the shelf to the other while cleaning the first and then the second.

5. Wipe clean all high surfaces, from the ceiling fan to ceiling trim and tall furniture items. Use warm water with a touch of mild soap to clean the surfaces. Come down and rinse off the cloth in clear water and return up the ladder to wipe away soapy residue. Let everything air-dry before returning items to the shelves or tops of furniture. Work your way down the ladder to the middle and finally the lower shelves where you won't need vertical support.

Use a long-handle dust mop or broom to remove ceiling or wall cobwebs and dust. You can also attach a clean cloth to a broom and wipe it along closet door lintels or window frames, which will eliminate that much climbing. When you are done, the room may feel and smell like new!