A Brief History of Spring Cleaning

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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.

Green Home Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring is in the air, and for many of us, that means taking a day or two out of our busy schedules to give our homes a good cleaning. We all know the basic checklist items that spring cleaning entails: putting away winter clothes, dusting every surface, sweeping under the rugs and washing the windows. But what tasks might you be neglecting in your spring cleaning campaign? We put together a list of oft-forgotten items that need doing annually. Take care of them during spring cleaning, and enjoy a clean, green, and healthy home all year round!

  • Vacuum and wipe down walls and vacuum ceilings. This can be done in every room, since dust, cobwebs, and fingerprints have a tendency to collect in these areas and remain unnoticed during regular cleanings. But this task is especially important for the kitchen and bathrooms! In the kitchen, move the appliances to vacuum around them, and be sure to wipe down the walls around the stove and sink. In the bathroom, pay special attention to the wall behind where you stand when you use hair and skin products. Residue from hairsprays and colognes can build up over time and turn into a gunky mess that’s nearly impossible to clean.
  • Wash throw rugs. Once a year, your throw rugs, kitchen and bathroom mats, and welcome mats need a good washing—so what better time than spring cleaning to tackle this task? If your rugs and mats are machine washable, you can just throw them in the washer while you complete one of the other tasks on the list.
  • Wash drapes, curtains, and linens. Window treatments gather dirt and dust throughout the year, and can be a major source of allergens in the home. You probably wash your bed linens fairly regularly, but spring cleaning is a good time to freshen the bedding in guest bedrooms, as well as blankets and throws that are kept on living room furniture.
  • Clean kitchen appliances. Take everything out of the refrigerator and freezer, wipe down the walls, and take the drawers out to be washed in warm soapy water. Degrease the oven and stove, wipe down the inside of the microwave, and empty crumbs out of the toaster or toaster oven.
  • Empty and dust cabinets. And while the contents are out of the cabinets, take the opportunity to clean and polish those dishes, glasses, and utensils that are used only rarely, like crystal goblets and fine silver.
  • Laundry machine maintenance. Wipe down the inside of the washer. Even though we think of the washing machine as a self-cleaning object, residues can build up on the walls and agitator from detergents as well as minerals in the water. Now is also a good time to clean out the dryer air filter. NOT the lint filter in the front or top of the machine that you clean every time you run a load of laundry, but the air intake filter in the back of the machine.
  • Vacuum and wipe down light fixtures. You might want to wipe down the light bulbs, too, since dusty light bulbs can cast murky light.
  • Clean upholstery and vacuum underneath cushions. If the upholstery on your chairs and sofa zips off, launder it according to the instructions on the tag. If not, you might consider renting a steam cleaner or hiring a professional upholstery cleaning service to do the job.
  • Air out the bedrooms and living areas. It’s spring! Open the windows and let the fresh air in! While you’re at it, now’s probably a good time to wash the insides of those windows.
  • Clean electronics and cables. TV screens tend to get cleaned a lot more frequently than the parts of our electronics that we can’t see. But spring cleaning is an excellent time to clean behind, underneath, and on top of your electronics. Trust us: nothing gathers dust and cobwebs like a bundle of cables snaking behind an entertainment center.
  • Wipe down doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and light switch panels. It may seem like a small thing, but paying special attention to these areas can really make a room sparkle. The best part? It’s really easy to do, and right at kindergartner eye level!

We hope you found this checklist helpful. But if you find that you need a little more assistance whipping your home into shape for the year, give us a call at  828.505.7320, or get in touch via our contact form today.

Happy Spring from your friends at Green Home Cleaning!

8 Things You're Probably Forgetting to Clean

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"Out of sight, out of mind" goes the old proverb. This can be a good thing- like avoiding your ex when you are healing from the end of a relationship, or skipping the cookie aisle at the grocery store when you are trying to lose weight. Or, it can be a bad thing, like when your stack of work papers for the big deadline are hidden under a pile of junk mail.

In the context of a healthy home, there are many integral pieces that must, for various reasons, remain out of sight, but don't let that keep you from cleaning them. Here's a handy checklist of the eight most important things that need periodic or seasonal cleaning, that you are probably forgetting about. Print it out and hang it on your fridge or schedule a seasonal cleaning day in your calendar to address these sneaky "out of sight" tasks.

1. Your heating and air conditioning filters. In the off seasons, these could probably get by with just a vacuuming. But before the extreme temperatures kick in, be sure to replace the filters so that you and your family can breathe easy!

2. Your refrigerator coil. It can get pretty dusty back there! You want to pull out your fridge twice a year to clean all the fallen crumbs and morsels that can attract pests. While you're back there, clean the coil with a damp cloth (unplug the fridge first.) letting dust and cobwebs build up back there could pose a fire hazard. Bonus points if you clean the top of the fridge while you're at it!

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3. Your floor vents. Those floor vent covers let nice, warm air into your house in the winter, but they also let dirt, pet hair, and all kinds of grub in to your heating ducts. Vacuum these out at least four times a year. More if you have indoor pets. Your family's lungs will thank you!

4. Under the rugs. Another age old proverb! Even though you probably aren't "sweeping it under the rug", it can get dirty under there just from normal use. Twice a year (more if you have pets), roll up your area rugs and vacuum underneath.

5. Behind the toilet. If you're like most people, when you clean your toilet, you are probably only getting the bowl and the visible parts on the front and side of the column. The back of the toilet is nearly impossible to see, and kind of difficult to get to. But this is an area that should be cleaned regularly in order to prevent bacteria and odor buildup. Try doing it every second or third time you clean the bathroom, depending on how high-traffic the bathroom is.

6. The pantry. Two to three times a year, go through all of your pantry storage areas and throw out food that is past the expiration date. Then take everything out, dust the shelves or inside the cupboards, and reorganize the food. This is a good time to introduce airtight plastic containers for things like rice, pasta, oatmeal and other foodstuffs that attract pests. (Pro Tip: use square, stackable containers for more economical use of space.)

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7. The oven and range. At least twice a year, pull your oven out and clean the floor and walls around it. Take your drip pans out and scrub them (or replace if needed.) Clean the grease and dust that has probably collected on the hood, especially the parts you can't normally see. Finally, clean the inside of the oven.

8. Your kitchen cabinets. Spiders love to make their homes here. And dust can be a problem, as well. Twice a year or so, take all of the dishes, glasses and cookware out of your cabinets and vacuum. Then clean the shelves with a vinegar-water solution if necessary.


Hope this checklist helps you to keep your home clean, green and healthy! (Even the parts you don't see.)