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