Spring is the ideal time to do a deep cleaning, as the windows can be open without intrusion from bugs and heat. Not only do we improve the air quality in our home, but we also add a much-needed boost to our immune system. Learn more about the benefits of 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.
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.
By investing time and energy in this time-honored custom, we offer a much-needed boost to our family’s health!
10 Spring Cleaning Guidelines
1. Plan ahead and prioritize
Pick one day or a series of days. Mark them on the calendar. Set realistic goals. Select areas of the home that are often overlooked.
2. Involve the 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. Our family has fun turning window cleaning into a game. (See Kids and Chores.)
The Jewish spring-cleaning tradition requires that every drawer, closet, and cabinet be cleaned and inspected for any item that is no longer needed. Use the opportunity to “clear out” and keep only those things that are used and 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. 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 ensures a more rewarding experience. You’ll also make better decisions since it can be easier to discard rather than put everything back. Removing everything is the hardest but most rewarding step.
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. Check out Earth911.)
My favorite natural cleaners:
- Black Tea Wood Floor Cleaner
- DIY Herbal Cleaner
- 5 Cheap Natural Cleaning Products
- DIY Toilet Cleaner Bombs
6. 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 and other contaminants. Tending to these areas significantly improves your indoor air quality.
See the momsAWARE free downloadable Dustbusting Dozen for more tips as well as a helpful checklist.
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. (Get more tips on healthy bedding in the article How to Choose a Safe Bed and Bedding.)
9. Be aware of asbestos
Many homes built before 1970 contain asbestos. Asbestos, a deadly fiber that causes mesothelioma, was used in insulation, floor tiles, home siding, and roofing. Linings around ventilation pipes, furnaces, hot water heaters, and other piping were also commonly made with asbestos. Since asbestos is still legal, it may be in newer homes as well.
Spring cleaning has the potential to stir it up. Although inhaling these fibers may not cause harm now, it can impact the long-term health of your family. Mesothelioma is an especially dangerous cancer as it can take 20-50 years for symptoms to develop. Learn more about identifying potential asbestos sources in your home in Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center’s article WATCH for Asbestos in Your Home.
If you suspect your home might contain asbestos, contact a qualified inspector for proper testing.
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.” My favorite books include Better Basics for the Home, The Naturally Clean Home, and Super Natural Home.