I am a housecleaner with over three years’ experience and clean 3 to 5 houses per week, besides my own home. Since injuries are common for housekeepers, it is imperative to prevent injuries whenever possible. There are five tips that I’ve learned throughout my cleaning career that help me remain healthy, despite working a physical job.
1. Stretching before I work – I stretch all of my major muscle groups every morning prior to beginning a cleaning job. Any stretching program would basically work, but I try to do a morning wake up podcast by Yoga Journal that I downloaded to my iPad for free. Sometimes I am in a hurry and don’t get my yoga stretch done, but I always stretch for five or 10 minutes even if it’s at the client’s house.
2. Lifting – I use my own supplies for cleaning, which requires me to carry a vacuum cleaner, mops and brooms, a cleaning caddy and other assorted supplies from my vehicle into and around clients’ houses. When I was younger, I would have lugged as much as possible in each trip. I now take the time to properly lift all equipment and make extra trips versus over-carrying. Remember to lift with your legs and not with your back.
3. Bending and reaching – Cleaning requires constant bending, reaching, scrubbing, wiping, and squatting. By using a step stool, extendable dusters, and proper positioning, I keep bending and reaching to a minimum. Ligaments and muscles are easier to pull from an extended position. Instead of reaching from my tiptoes to reach top shelves or light fixtures, I bring a light-weight collapsible stool so that I do not over-extend my reach.
4. Falling – Slipping and falling are always a risk, especially when vacuuming stairs, carrying equipment, or cleaning tubs and showers. I wear slip resistant sneakers as well as being cautious. I often need to step inside large showers in order to clean the back wall, and there is a risk of slipping. By placing a towel on the floor outside the shower, I have a better surface to step on instead of a wet floor. I then use this towel to wipe up any water that has got outside the shower area. In addition, I take my time vacuuming stairs so that I do not trip over the vacuum or cord and fall down. I back down the stairs making sure that the cord is not tangled under my feet.
5. Stretching after work – Not only do I stretch prior to working, I stretch after cleaning. I don’t usually do the entire 20 minute yoga routing; however, I will make sure to stretch my wrists, arms, shoulders, hips, and back as well as thighs and ankles. Even a quick five-minute stretching session in the shower can loosen any muscle area that is tight and help prevent injuries.