A Brief History of Spring Cleaning


The seasonal ritual of spring cleaning has been around as long as humans have lived in permanent dwellings.

In ancient times, spring cleaning was often done as part of a spring religious holiday or festival. Ancient Persians commemorated Nowruz, their New Year celebration coinciding with the vernal equinox, with a ritual house cleaning called kooneh tekouni, an apt phrase meaning “shaking up the house.”

Early Hebrews conducted a thorough cleaning of their homes in preparation for Passover, the traditional spring holiday. And in the Chinese tradition, a house cleaning holiday serves as a precursor to the New Year (which is generally thought to be the first day of spring.)

It was fitting for ancient peoples to ritualize detailed cleaning in the spring, a time when the earth renews itself and seasonal cycles start afresh.

Imagine living in Wisconsin before the modern inventions of electric heat, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. These hardy folks brought their whole lives inside for four to six months while the cold weather raged outside. During that time, they would have had to adjust and modify their normal, warm-weather cleaning habits.

Instead of carrying all of the dirty clothes and linens outside on “wash day” to launder in a big cast iron pot over a fire, they would wash their clothes in small batches in the kitchen and hang them to dry beside the wood stove or fireplace. Sheets and blankets would go unwashed through the winter months. The lack of light would have made it hard to see well enough to clean in a detailed way. Heating with wood meant that the floors and rugs would constantly be covered with stray wood chips and pieces of bark. By spring, everything in the house would be coated with a fine layer of ash and soot.

So as soon as the days lengthened and the weather grew warmer, families did their spring cleaning, spending a few days to a week cleaning everything that had grown dirty and neglected over the long, harsh winter.

One of the most important, time consuming, and labor-intensive tasks in the spring cleaning regimen was beating the rugs. People didn’t have wall-to-wall carpets back then, but they did have large, room-sized rugs woven of wool or reeds, and smaller rugs woven of old rags. These heavy, dirt-covered rugs would be hauled outside, hung up on a line in the sunshine, and beaten with sticks until no more dust remained. Then they would be left to hang in the sunshine and air out for a day or so, before being brought back in.

Thankfully, today, we have access to miraculous appliances like vacuum cleaners and washers and dryers. Though it still gets cold and dark in the winter, we no longer have to suffer through months of dirty living conditions and poor air quality just because it’s cold outside.

But, even though we now live in a time of comparative luxury, spring cleaning is still a tradition that many people uphold. It’s as good a time as any to see to those household chores that only need doing once a year, like cleaning behind the refrigerator, changing the air filters, and dusting the baseboards. It is nice, and even energizing, to spend the first few days tidying up, getting rid of the old, and making room for the new.

A Valentine's Day Cleaning Guide for Dudes


So you’re a dude, and you’ve got a special someone coming over for Valentine’s Day dinner.

But, let’s face it—you’re a bachelor and your home is a bachelor pad. Your idea of cleaning is moving the empty pizza box from the floor to the lid of the trashcan. So how do you make sure your date won’t flee your apartment before cocktails? Here’s a handy home cleaning guide, paying special attention to areas that dudes often forget about.

  1. Odors. The thing about residential odors is that they are usually only perceptible to guests. This isn’t only true for dudes; it’s just a fact of life. We get accustomed to the smell of our homes to the point where we block it out, and it takes leaving for a week’s vacation and coming back to really notice there’s something off. So here’s what you do: the day before you have your lady friend over for dinner, ask a friend or neighbor to come over and do a sniff test for you. If you don’t have time for that, it’s okay. You can mask any stealthy odors, but whatever you do, DON’T use Lysol or any other chemical-heavy room spray. They actually don’t smell that great, and many people experience allergic reactions to them. Instead, throw some orange peels and cinnamon sticks in a pot with a little water, and set it to simmer for an hour or two before your date arrives. That will make your whole house smell amazing.
  2. Living Room. The main thing you’re going to want to do in the living room is pick up any clutter off the floor and furniture. Your sneakers, your gym bag, your stack of poker chips—put them in a closet. Empty beer cans and used paper plates, obviously, go in the trash, and don’t forget to take the trash out before your date comes over! Once the room is tidied up, sweep the floor or run the vacuum cleaner and clean any glass tabletops of all stains and smudges. It wouldn’t hurt to run a dust cloth over the TV screen, either.
  3. Kitchen. I’ve met a lot of bachelors who don’t have plates, silverware, or basic cooking stuff. If this is you—and I’m not saying it is—the first thing I want to know is what possessed you to invite your date over to your place for dinner? But, never mind, there’s no time for answering questions. Thrift shops often have good deals on gently used kitchen and dining accouterments. Once you’ve got all the necessary items, give your kitchen a once-over to ensure it won’t offend your date. The most important things are to make sure that the countertops, floor, and appliance surfaces are clean. If you have a bit of time after that’s done, give your sink and faucet a polish with a wet cloth. And finally, make sure there’s no rotting food in the fridge, just in case she opens it.
  4. Bathroom. Dirty towels into the hamper. Clean the toilet bowl (here’s an article on getting out hard water stains, if you need it). Arrange your toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, etc. neatly on the counter, or better yet, put them in a drawer. And most importantly, clean all of the beard trimmings out of your sink and off of your mirror.
  5. Bedroom. There’s certainly no guarantee that your date will set foot in your bedroom, but giving it a quick cleaning might help the chances that if she does enter, she’ll stick around for awhile. First, you’ll need to wash your comforter and linens. It doesn’t matter if they look clean—if you haven’t washed them in a while, they’re not clean and she’ll be able to tell. Then make the bed neatly. Clear any clutter off the dresser and bedside table, and remove any piles of dirty clothes from the floor. Vacuum the carpet, dust the blinds, and replace any dead light bulbs.

That’s it! By following the tips in this guide, you can be confident that your bachelor pad will not only not turn off your date, but that it might actually leave a good impression! Happy Valentine’s Day, dudes!

Essential Oils for the Green Home


Whoever figured out the secrets of mass-distilling essential oils deserves the thanks of every green homemaker! Many of these lovely smelling potions were once so expensive to produce that only the wealthy could afford them, and they were used almost exclusively for perfumes. But now, they are affordable enough to use on a daily basis for home cleaning purposes, which is particularly wonderful since science has shown what amazing cleaning properties they have!

If you’re not already stocking your cleaning supplies with essential oils, you definitely should! Here are our six favorite essential oils for home cleaning.

  1. Lavender- With its soothing herbal scent and powerful antibacterial properties, lavender oil is a great natural cleaning aid to have around the house. It’s also one of the easiest essential oils to find in stores. Experiment with adding it to homemade or unscented dish soaps and laundry detergents to freshen your home.
  2. Tea Tree- Tea tree oil (or Melaleuca) is one of the strongest natural antifungals available. It’s also antibacterial and antiviral. Use it in a water-based spray to clean counter tops and bathroom surfaces, or to prevent mold growth in the shower. You can also make homemade antibacterial wipes, gels, or hand soaps with this wonder of nature.
  3. Lemon and Orange- Citrus oils, especially lemon and orange, are excellent at cutting grease, while filling your home with a sunny, sweet aroma. Use them mixed with a carrier oil like olive oil for wood furniture polish and natural wood floor cleaner, or by themselves to lift grease from the stove-top. Lemon oil is also antibacterial and antiviral—so combine a few drops with water in a spray bottle to use as a surface disinfectant.
  4. Rosemary- Use rosemary oil as an antibacterial and antiseptic air freshening spray. Its fragrance is warm and earthy, and many people say that the scent of rosemary helps improve their focus. Scientific research has shown that rosemary oil contains compounds that could have a positive effect on memory, so definitely use this spray if you’re constantly forgetting where you put your keys!
  5. Peppermint- Peppermint oil is another great antibacterial choice, and its cool, fresh aroma makes your house smell like Christmas! It’s also an effective pest deterrent for spiders, as well as ants, flies, and other insects.
  6. Thyme- This oil is one of the most effective germicides Mother Nature has to offer. It’s even effective against salmonella, so you can use it in a soap or spray to clean cutting boards and other surfaces that have been touched by raw meat.

At Green Home Cleaning, we use essential oils in our homemade cleaning products to ensure a deep clean and an uplifting mood in our clients’ homes. If you live in the Asheville, NC area and would like to see the difference Green Home Cleaning can make for your home, give us a call at 828.505.7320 or drop us a line via our contact form.

Christmas as a Kid Versus Christmas as an Adult

The Joy of Christmas Morning


As a child, you woke up on Christmas morning with an unmatched feeling of anticipation. Christmas was the highlight of your year. You jumped out of bed at 5 a.m. and rushed to the living room to see what new riches awaited you under the tree. You knew you weren't supposed to start opening presents until Mom and Dad were up, so you went to their bedroom and leapt on top of their sleeping bodies until they got up. (You were blissfully unaware of the fact that they'd stayed up until 2 in the morning on Santa Duty.) You tried to wait patiently while Dad made coffee and Mom made sure there was a roll of film in the camera, but your heart was pounding with holiday adrenaline. Finally, when both parents had appeared in the living room in their bathrobes and with bags under their eyes, you tore into the beautifully wrapped presents. Fifteen minutes later, it was done. You took your new bike outside or set up your new game console and spent the rest of the day in happy play, never noticing the noise of the vacuum or the flurry of activity in the kitchen as your parents prepared for the dinner guests.

Now, as an adult, chances are you're the one being dragged out of bed on Christmas morning with only three hours of sleep under your belt. You've spent the last month trying to find the perfect gifts for your kids, and then another several hours wrapping them on Christmas Eve, and now you get to watch the joy on your kids' faces as they destroy the living room in record time. You're the one who gets to spend the rest of Christmas morning picking up gift wrap, basting turkey, and cleaning the kitchen in preparation for the stream of relatives who will soon be arriving. If everything's going smoothly, you might get a chance to watch your kids play with their new gifts for five minutes. Enjoy it while it lasts, because by tomorrow afternoon, they'll be complaining of boredom.

Holiday Snacking


When you were a kid, the holiday season was a month long cookie and candy fest, punctuated by pie. Your stomach was a bottomless pit for gingerbread and candy canes, and you had no problem filling the leftover space with turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Now, you're an adult. It's Christmas Eve and you're at a party. You have eaten one small plate of hors d'oeuvres and the tiniest possible sliver of pumpkin pie, and you were just about to participate in the champagne toast, when all of a sudden the heartburn waylays you. Uggh. And you feel bloated. When you catch a glimpse of yourself in the hall mirror, you realize that you look bloated, too. Blast it all! Why is it that every holiday season, the very air around you fills up with tasty, delicious, fatty, indigestion causing, DELICIOUS edible treats? It takes you until October to work off the extra holiday pounds, just in time for another holiday season to begin.

Dreaming of a White Christmas


As a kid, Christmas was already the second most special day of the year, ranked just slightly below your birthday but safely above Halloween and the first day of summer vacation. But there was one thing that could make Christmas even more special, and that was if it snowed. Not just a flurry or a dusting, but a good, intense, overnight snow dump. If you woke up on Christmas morning and there was a foot or more of snow on the ground, it was like having Christmas and your birthday rolled into one. Think of all the hills you could sled! The snow forts you could build with your friends! The snow balls you could hurl at your younger siblings! Holiday snow is the stuff childhood memories are made of.

Now that you're all grown up, snow is still a pretty sight to see, but a white Christmas probably brings up more feelings of stress than opportunities for fun. Take some pictures of that pristine, picturesque snowfall, because by the end of the day it's going to be a maze of muddy footprints, and most of the actual snow will have been transferred inside your house, melted, and formed a small pond in your hallway. But that's not all! Tomorrow, you get to shovel it! And hopefully the road crews have done their job so that when you return to work in two days, you won't end up with your car in a snowy Christmas ditch on the side of the road.

The Perfect Holiday Gift for Mom


One of the truly magical things about being a kid is that you can give people any kind of gift at all, and they will love it, treasure it forever, praise you for it, and possibly frame it. When you were a kid, you could make Mom a picture out of dried food items glued to a piece of paper, and tears of joy would appear at the corner of her eye. And you know what? YOUR MOM STILL HAS THAT MACARONI PICTURE, tucked away in a drawer somewhere along with your first report card and a pair of your baby socks.

If you're a mom now, you're familiar with the tender, loving feelings that arise when your little ones give you homemade gifts. And you're also completely aware of the paradoxical fact that no adult in your life, be they your husband, your sister, or your best friend, can get away with giving you a macaroni picture for Christmas. It's a lot harder to give thoughtful gifts as a grown up. There's a lot more room for error. But there's at least one gift for the moms in your life that you can't go wrong with--it has MAGICAL MACARONI ART powers. And that's a gift certificate from Green Home Cleaning. She deserves it, after all that cleaning, shopping, cooking, snow shoveling, and mysterious holiday weight gain she's put up with over the past two months.

You can snap up a holiday gift certificate for the mom of your choice by dropping us a line, or by calling us at 828.505.7320. (And if you are the mom of your choice, feel free to share this blog post with your husband/sister/best friend.)

Green Home Holiday Guest Prep List


Thanksgiving is just three short weeks away, and thus shall begin yet another tireless parade of winter holidays. They just keep coming, don’t they? It seems that as soon as you’ve recovered from turkey and stuffing and cleared the leftovers out of the fridge, it’s already time to do your Christmas cleaning. And then before you know it, there’s a New Year’s celebration to prepare for.

If your home is the designated holiday get-together venue for your family, you’ve probably got your work cut out for you. But with a little forethought and preparation, you can ensure that your holiday cleaning goes smoothly and quickly, so that you’ll have time to actually enjoy the holidays. Use this checklist to make sure your home is ready for holiday guests!

  • Bedding- If you’ll be having any overnight guests, the first thing you’ll want to do is wash the guest room bedding. Don’t forget towels and washcloths.
  • Fridge- While the linens are in the spin cycle, tackle the fridge. You’re going to want to make sure you have enough room for all the holiday meal ingredients, and for leftovers afterwards. Pro-tip: Use this opportunity to check your Tupperware supply. If you’re running low, or you’ve lost all the lids like I always seem to be doing, put it down on your grocery list. Make sure you have enough cheap, plastic containers to store leftovers for yourself, as well as to send some home with the guests.
  • Garbage Disposal- Your loyal old garbage disposal is going to be pulling a lot of extra shifts this holiday season, so go ahead and give it a little extra attention before the onslaught. Cut up a whole, fresh lemon or orange and feed it into the disposal, seeds, rind, and all. This will cut down on any unpleasant odors. Then feed some ice cubes into the disposal to sharpen the blades.
  • Inside the Oven, Top of the Stove- You are probably starting to detect a trend here. Yes, once the bedding is taken care of, we are putting most of our cleaning focus on the kitchen. That’s where people tend to congregate…it’s where the food is! Clean out the inside surfaces of the oven so that you don’t have any kitchen catastrophes from old, stuck-on food in there. Then scour the top of your stove until it shines. We like to use Bon Ami for both of these tasks. It’s an all-natural scouring powder that doesn’t scratch, and is excellent for getting stuck-on food off of glass stovetops.
  • Windows- The days are darker this time of year, so you want to let in as much natural, outdoor light as you can. Plus, you’re going to want to be able to see your guests approaching! So wash your windows with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Especially in the kitchen!
  • Bathrooms- Make sure all the bathrooms in your home are as clean as they can get. Even if you are not cleaning the master bedroom, clean the master bath. Why? Because holiday gatherings are known for epic bathroom shortages, when all of your turkey-and-ham stuffed guests wake up from their naps at the same time with the urge to go.
  • Space for Gathering- Check all of the main gathering rooms (kitchen, dining room, living room, etc.) and take stock of the space available. Are you going to need extra chairs or lounging room? If you need to, now’s the time to move coffee tables, houseplants, etc. to other rooms in the house to make room for all those extra people.
  • Front Porch and Entryway- Last but not least, take a few minutes to sweep off the front porch and steps and clean the floor and dust any furniture in your entryway. This will be your guests’ first impression of your home, so make it shine. It’s also a good idea to address the need for coat, hat, scarf, and muddy boot storage at this point. You may need to clear away some of your family’s winter things to make room for your guests’ winter things. Or just hang up a few new hooks by the door.

Congratulations, you’re done! Go ahead and take a load off, and remember: it’s never wrong to have your holiday party catered!

Happy holidays from Green Home Cleaning!