Spring Cleaning Tips for Seniors

March 13, 2024

Spring Cleaning Checklist

The weather is starting to turn, and it's time to indulge in the annual spring cleaning ritual. It’s extra important for seniors to conduct spring cleaning checklists and let go of items that pose potential threats. So, clean out your garage, straighten up your parents' home and prepare your living area for the season ahead! Take a look at BrightStar Care’s guide to tidying up as the seasons change. 

Dispose of Harmful Items 

First things first—get rid of any items that may be harmful. We often overlook things that have been in our homes for a while and don’t realize they may become dangerous as time goes on. Here are nine things, according to AARP, that you should get rid of during this year’s spring cleaning: 

Hazardous Waste

Aerosol cans, batteries, motor oil, antifreeze and paint all need to be properly disposed of so they don’t contaminate the environment or accidently harm elderly folks, children or pets. Exposure to these substances and other household chemicals can lead to headaches, allergic reactions and, in severe cases, respiratory illnesses. Go to to find a safe place for disposal. 

Piled-Up Plastic Containers

Do you  have piles of plastic containers sitting around “just in case”? Take a closer look at that plastic. Containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 may contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical that leaches into food as containers age or heat up in the microwave or dishwasher. Replace containers made before 2010 with new plastic or glass ones, that don’t contain BPA.

Expired or Unused Medications

With age, there often comes a greater reliance on medication. But what happens when you no longer need certain medicines? Too often, people let expired medication gather dust. Instead, toss old drugs in an eco-friendly way. Don’t flush them down the toilet or put them in the trash. Take them to official collection sites on National Take-Back Initiative Day, April 27. If you keep expired medications around, you risk someone accidentally taking the wrong drug. 

Old Spices

Dried-up, decades-old spices won’t make you sick, but they won’t add flavor or nutrients to your food, either. According to experts at McCormick, seasoning blends last one or two years. Herbs and ground spices are good for one to three years, and whole spices last up to four years. Saving these age-old spices only adds to the clutter in your loved one’s home. 

Moldy Makeup

Makeup is only safe for a limited time. After that, infection-causing bacteria can start to grow, especially in eye makeup. Mascara only lasts two to three months, lip gloss six months and foundation six months to a year.

Crusty Contact Lens Cases

Did you know that 92% of contact lens cases are contaminated due to poor hygiene and lack of cleaning? Eye experts say cases should be cleaned with a fresh soaking solution and dried every day. After three months of use, it’s time for a replacement.

Old Pillows

Pillows older than 18 months contain fungi, dead skin and dust mites that can aggravate allergies, asthma and sinusitis. Try folding your pillow in half and squeezing out the air. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s too old. Beyond allergies and asthma, the Sleep Foundation asserts that old pillows also contribute to sore muscles—a big concern for many elderly folks. 

Expired Canned Food

Canned food certainly last longer than produce, but these goods will expire after a while. Be sure to read the labels on canned products to learn how long it will keep for. Canned tomatoes and fruits are good for 18 months, while canned meat and vegetables last up to five years. Throw old, expired food away—if it’s expired, it shouldn’t be eaten or donated. 

Germy Kitchen Sponges

According to a study done by the Agricultural Research Service, microwaving your sponge can kill 99.9 percent of germs. These cleaning implements are rife with bacteria thriving in the damp crevices. Some of these bacteria are linked to severe gut and skin infections. To reduce the bad stuff, microwave your sponge daily in an inch of water for a minute on high heat.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Older Adults

Once your loved one’s home is free from any harmful materials, it’s time to get started on the rest of your spring cleaning list. Here are just a few more tips for making the most of the season: 

Cleaning Up for Fall Safety

Around 36 million falls are reported each year, and that’s only counting those among older adults. With such a staggering number, it’s clear that falls are not just passing dangers—they’re a public health concern. This year’s spring cleaning is a perfect time to evaluate your loved one’s home safety and focus on fall prevention. As you help them tidy up, consider the following tips for a safer living space

  1. Clear walkways—Remove any boxes and cords from walkways. Even if they’re easy to avoid for you, they could be a tripping hazard for seniors. 
  2. Tidy up high-traffic areas—Consider moving pieces of furniture like coffee tables and ottomans from high-traffic areas. Try putting side tables right beside furniture instead of obstructing walkways. 
  3. Examine the floors—Have you noticed loose floorboards or rugs? Repair any damaged flooring or carpeting as soon as possible, and use double-faced tape to fasten loose rugs to the floor. 
  4. Invest in non-slip mats—Place non-slip mats in areas prone to getting wet—outside the bathtub, in front of the kitchen sink and in entryways. 

Checking Safety Equipment 

Here’s another thing to add to your spring cleaning checklist—fire safety. It’s a good idea to check smoke alarms and fire extinguishers regularly, and you might as well lump this task in with spring cleaning. Ensuring your loved one’s home is fire-safe will give you added peace of mind. Try these tips from the U.S. Fire Administration

  • Install a smoke alarm inside and outside each sleeping area
  • Replace smoke alarms that are older than 10 years 
  • Ensure carbon monoxide alarms work and are less than seven years old
  • Check all electrical cords and replace those in poor condition 
  • Make sure outlets do not feel warm to the touch 
  • Develop a fire escape plan that identifies an outside meeting place 

Clearing Clutter

You’re armed with lots of spring cleaning tips, but maybe you don’t quite know where to start. It’s understandable—tidying up an entire home is overwhelming, especially when you’re doing so on behalf of a loved one. If you’re feeling stressed, implement these strategies while spring cleaning for a senior loved one: 

  • Start small: Try not to think of spring cleaning as one giant project. Instead of resolving to clean the whole house today, start with a drawer, cupboard or closet and go from there. 
  • Create three piles: As you sift through your loved one’s things, place them into one of three piles—keep, donate and toss. Organizing items this way avoids one big, overwhelming pile of stuff you’ll have to sort out later. 
  • Downsize: Consider using this time to downsize. For every new item your loved one adds to their home, ask them to choose something to throw out. Encourage them to donate unused items in good condition and get rid of trash right away. 
  • Manage your time: Spring cleaning can last more than one day. If you’re on a time crunch, dedicate just a few hours over the weekend to clean. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once—spread the responsibility over several days. 
  • Ask a professional: You don’t have to do it alone! Look into professional organizers in your area and ask them for help decluttering your loved one’s home. 

Find a BrightStar Care® Location Near You 

Looking for in-home care services or assisted living for your loved one or a reliable medical staffing partner for your organization? Our experienced local care team members are ready to help. Find a location near you, contact us online, or call 866.618.7827 to speak with a local care expert and learn more about how BrightStar Care offers A Higher Standard®.