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Guidelines for Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning dates back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime memorial feast of Passover.Spring Lilacs

In Persia, the new year falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of khooneh tekouni, which means "shaking the house." Everything is cleaned, from drapes to furniture.

People have long understood the connection between cleanliness and health. When we do a thorough cleaning of our home, we improve the air quality and therefore our health. By investing time and energy in this time-honored custom, we offer a much-needed boost to our own and our family's immune systems.

Spring is the ideal time to do a deep cleaning, as the windows can be open without intrusion from bugs and heat. Here are ten suggestions for making this year's spring cleaning a resounding success!

  1. Plan ahead and prioritize. Pick one day or a series of days. Mark them on the calendar. Set realistic goals. Pick areas of the home that are often overlooked.
  2. Involve the whole family. Children are more capable than we realize. Research suggests that kids who are actively involved in the work of the household gain self-esteem, confidence, and a strong work ethic. Encourage your spouse to participate. (Here's how momsAWARE founder Andrea Fabry made a contest out of window cleaning!)
  3. De-clutter. The Jewish spring-cleaning tradition requires that every drawer, closet, and cabinet be cleaned and inspected for any item which is no longer needed. Use the opportunity to "clear out" and keep only those things that are used and/or needed. If it hasn't been used for a year or more, chances are you no longer need it. Call your favorite thrift store or charity to schedule a pickup. Having a date on the calendar will add further motivation.
  4. Take everything out. When tackling a closet, shelf, or drawer, take everything out first. It's tempting to dust around things or do a half-hearted job. Taking everything out before cleaning insures a more rewarding experience. You'll also make better decisions, since it can be easier to discard rather than put back.
  5. Use natural products. Spring is a perfect time to incorporate cheap and natural cleaning products. Discard your chemical products and try white vinegar and baking soda. Add some essential oils for a pleasant aroma during cleaning.

    Before disposing of chemicals, look for a hazardous waste disposal site near you.

    For more on integrating natural products into your home, see A Naturally Clean Kitchen and The Naturally Healthy Bathroom, as well as our Natural Year Challenge: Household Edition.

  6. Download our free checklist:
    The momsAWARE Dustbusting Dozen
    Pay attention to hidden dust collectors. Refrigerator coils, vents, fans, blinds, drapes, and other dust-prone areas may receive little attention during the year. Dust can be a breeding ground for mold. Tending to these areas significantly improves your indoor air quality.
  7. Move one piece of large furniture (at least). Enlist the help of family and vacuum under and behind that sofa, bed, desk, refrigerator, washer and/or dryer.
  8. Clean bedding, including pillows. If pillows are not machine-washable, consider replacing them. Pillows can be a source of mold, dust, and odors. At the very least, sprinkle with water and toss in the dryer at a high temperature. Consider washing your bedding and drying in the sun for a special "fresh" feeling.
  9. Clean the refrigerator. Check expiration dates and toss unwanted or unusable food items, even when they're half full. Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start!
  10. Reward your hard work! Plan a family movie night, go out to dinner, try a new essential oil, or invest in a book to encourage your desire to run an "all-natural household." Book suggestions include Better Basics for the Home, The Naturally Clean Home, and Super Natural Home.


"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

This site is dedicated to a true friend and mother — Barbara Dell Kessel (1929-2009)