Spring is here! Having started officially on March 20th, in my opinion spring doesn’t really hit until April. As the rainiest month of the year for many places, April is always such a pleasant one still. It’s (typically) when we can say goodbye to overnight freezing temperatures & snow, and say hello to warmer days & morning dew.
Now that spring is in full swing, we can get right to it: Spring Cleaning.
Where it comes from. Why it’s good for everyone. & How to get started.
The term “spring cleaning” was coined (in English) sometime between 1855-1860, but the custom itself far predates the term & some form is present in many cultures all over the world (source). The earliest documented instance of housekeeping, which was exhibited at the Smithsonian in 2000,
included this diary entry from a housewife in 1864: “Swept and dusted sitting-room & kitchen 350 times. Filled lamps 362 times. Swept and dusted chamber & stairs 40 times.” Drudgery journals, such as this one of women’s rights activist Lydia Maria Child, detail housekeeping rituals and shed light for historians on why the biggest housecleaning of the year traditionally happened in spring (source).
Today most all homes enjoy two things: electricity & an industrialized heat source. Most homes are not reliant on whale oil, kerosene lamps, wood burning stoves, or coal furnaces for light & heat. But, when most homes were, spring offered financial relief from the dark & cold burden that is winter. Spring days are longer, brighter & warmer. Sunlight beaming through windows offered light & warmth that winter chill would have prevented. Opened windows also allowed housekeepers to clean chimney stacks & soot covered rooms properly & without sacrificing heat.
Spring is the natural time to do this kind of thing. Furthermore, there are religious & other cultural reinforcement to this worldwide custom.
- Judaism: Passover
- Catholicism: Good Friday
- Greek Orthodox: Lent
- Iran: Nowruz (Persian New Year)
As humans have used the availability of fresh air & abundant sunlight as an excuse to recover from the winter & reassess for the new year; For many wild animals, spring is a natural time of rebirth: Hibernators awaken. Birds return north. Fish thaw. Mating rituals begin & they start building nests.
Ultimately, spring cleaning may have more to do with simple biology. During winter, we’re exposed to less sunlight due to shorter, often dreary days. With a lack of exposure to light, the pineal gland produces melatonin — a hormone that produces sleepiness in humans. Conversely, when we’re exposed to sunlight, our bodies produce much less melatonin. It’s possible that we spring clean simply because we wake up from a winter long melatonin-induced stupor and find more energy as the days grow longer when spring arrives. After all, it’s easy to allow a house to get a little gross around the edges when you’re sleepy (source).
Spring is an easy going time of year because yard maintenance is low as you await regrowth of the landscape. Instead take the time to clean the gutters (& add gutter guards), since you won’t be fighting as much falling debris. You should also do maintenance for all your summer specific appliances (Air Conditioning, Pool, Boat, etc) now, to avoid being hit with problems when you want to use them most.
Because the weather is nicer, you can open the windows wide up & whip out the bleach cleaner. Emptying entire rooms (one at a time is what I suggest), cleaning it thoroughly & reorganizing it as suits your needs to a great start to a beautiful season. Epitomize natural light in your designs by locating intimate seating areas near windows. But, always remember do what works for you. Cute isn’t always functional. You don’t live in a magazine.
Another things that spring allows you to do is inspect & maintenance summer appliances like Air Conditioning units (home & auto), Pool & Pond filtration systems, boats & RVs. The early bird really gets the worm on this one because regular maitenance on all appliances & electornics can help prevent, but it can also help detect, problems. Early detection not only means preventing further damage, but it can also allow you to manage all your costs before it’s too late.
For example, if you find out in early Spring that you need a large part on your Air Conditioning replaced, you can choose to open windows & utilize household fans through the warmer days of Spring as you save to afford the repair costs. If you wait until summer to turn on the AC & it doesn’t work you are not only going to get hit with unknown repair costs, but you could also end up on an appointment waiting list with others like you.
Spring Cleaning & Maintenance Extra Checklist:
- AC Maintenance (home & auto)
- Water Pump Maintenance (if applicable)
- Sub Pump Maintenance (if applicable)
- Wash windows in & out
- Bleach window tracks
- Repaint Exterior walls/window frames/doors, if needed
- Weed & Spray Repellent
- Pest Repellent basements, garages & crawl spaces