It’s that time of year, but where exactly did the tradition of spring cleaning come from? Learn more and find out our favourite tips & tricks to make your cleaning as simple as possible this spring.
The Origins of Spring Cleaning
If you ask some, spring cleaning is an annual guilt trip. Others say it is a biological reaction to the change in seasons. During the winter, people are exposed to less sunlight so our pineal gland produces more melatonin to compensate. Melatonin also makes us sleepier. It has been suggested that more sunlight as weather improves, and the days start to get longer, can bring a burst of energy, which springs us into action quite literally. While we may be more likely to accept a little mess in the winter when we are tired, the sun spurs us to start tidying up.
Any way you look at it, spring cleaning isn’t a new tradition.
There are also many cultural examples of spring cleaning. In Iran, Nowruz (Persian New Year) typically coincides with spring equinox. Two weeks before Nowruz, there is the tradition of khane tekani, which translates to ‘shaking down the house.’ As the name suggests, it requires a very thorough cleaning in order to renew the home. Once the house has been cleaned and sorted, fresh flowers are brought in to help welcome the new year.
A similar ideology can be found with Lunar New Year, where the home is thoroughly cleaned in preparation to bring good fortune. After the house is cleaned, there is no sweeping for a few days in order not to brush away any good fortunes that may have been brought with the new year.
Likewise, during Passover, Jewish people remove any leavened bread from their homes, which often requires a good clean to make sure all the crumbs are removed. Given the time of year Passover occurs, it might also be considered an example or spring cleaning.
Of course, the origin of spring cleaning might be far more practical than any tradition or religion. Homes were once lit with whale oil or keroscene, and warmed by burning wood or coal. After the winter months, there would be a layer or soot and grime in every room. Barbara Clark Smith, curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, speaking with The Washington Post, points out that you can’t effectively clean in winter, whereas warmer weather provided the opportunity to really clean.
So while most of us aren’t burning coal anymore, the generational habit seems to have stuck.
Step One: Make a List
It may sound like a no-brainer, but the first step of your spring-cleaning process should always be a list. Spring cleaning can feel like a massive overhaul that is often pitched as a fresh start, but it can also be overwhelming. A list is a great way to prioritize your tasks, and to break them down into simple, smaller tasks to feel like you are making some actual progress packing away your winter closet.
We find it more satisfying to start by sorting our closets and drawers. Go through your clothes, makeup, or even the dreaded ‘junk drawer,’ and donate or toss items you don’t need and don’t use anymore. Not only will you create more space, but it also gives you a great opportunity to implement a new organizational system.
Buy some new wicker baskets or a beautiful jewelry box so you stop losing earrings. Better yet, put some of your favourite pieces relegated to the bottom of your drawer on display. Try a beautiful marble dish to display your rings or hold your trinkets. You can also organize your throw blankets or guest towels in a fun, statement piece like the Tade recycled carrier bags for easy future relocation.
Once you’ve tackled your storage, you can move onto the nitty gritty tasks like laundry, cleaning shelves, windows, curtains, and more. Just don’t forget to put on a great podcast or your favourite playlist as you bust out the rubber gloves and rags.
Step Two: Keep Things Simple
One of the worst parts of cleaning is the chemical scent left behind by most cleaning products. While effective, they can leave you with a headache and can be a serious impediment to your cleaning progress requiring you to take breaks. Choosing an eco-friendly cleaner can make all of the scrubbing much easier with a product like Compagnie de Provence’s Open Air All Purpose Cleaner for your bathroom or kitchen. Or make a natural cleaner with the classic mix of water and vinegar to tackle your blinds and sinks.
You can also tackle any unpleasant chemical smells after the fact with a fragrant room spray. You can also make linen water a part of your daily routine. This fragrant water will gently scent your linens and clothing for an instant refresh without another trip to the laundry room.
Step Three: Choose Your Spring Scents
If you subscribe to the idea that spring cleaning is a natural biological response, then it makes sense for your fragrance choices to follow the same logic. Even with snow on the ground, we can imagine spring on the horizon by implementing natural and floral scents in our homes.
As we’ve discussed on this blog before, fragrances are extremely personal and can be tied closely to our memories. What better way to think of a spring stroll down a lush trail with your dog, coffee from your favourite local in hand, sun in the sky, then with a rose candle or a forest scent? Imagine a summer night sitting around a campfire making smores or sharing a bottle of wine with a sandalwood or pine fragrance.
Take your influence from Nowruz and Lunar New Year, and begin your year as you mean to go on. Give your home a deep scrub, and then the next day don’t lift a finger other than to light your favourite candle or diffuser. Wait for spring to blossom with a smile on your face, and your winter coat tucked far away in your closet.
What does your spring cleaning process look like? Let us know your tips and tricks for creating a fresh start for spring.