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What does Spring Cleaning have to do with Organizing?

quilts-on-clotheslineAs soon as spring arrived, I started to see lots of articles about spring cleaning.  Most of these were about how to get rid of stuff and organize what is left.  I’ve done my fair share of that, but why is it focused on in the spring?  When did spring cleaning become about sorting through stuff?  It seems to me that the winter would be the best time to do that.  You are stuck in the house anyway!  I don’t believe that spring cleaning is about sorting, getting rid of stuff, and organizing at all.  I believe that it is a time for actual cleaning!  Here’s why.

Most of our homes today are climate controlled and sealed tight.  We pump the air in, filter it, cool it or heat it, and pump it out.  We have electric appliances like vacuums and washers and dryers.  We have no need to rely on the outdoors to accomplish our cleaning.  But before the inventions of washers and dryers and central air, people waited excitedly for those first sunny and warm spring days.

During the winter, the windows were closed tight with no fresh air.  Their homes would get smoky and sooty from their wood fires.  Ashes would collect in the chimney and around the fireplace.  After living off grid for over a year and a half and experiencing all the seasons, I know what spring meant to people over a century ago!  My family has the benefit of a modern woodstove that is very efficient and doesn’t allow smoke inside our home, so I don’t have to worry about scrubbing soot off my walls in the spring.  But when spring comes, I’m grateful to clean the woodstove for the season and finally get all the dirty firewood out of the house.

Spring cleaning also means opening windows and airing out your home.  It means getting all those dirty blankets and bedsheets off your bed that haven’t been washed all winter, and getting them on the line to hang in the warm sun.  Often just blowing in a good spring breeze with the sun directly on blankets and quilts, is enough to make them cleaner and fresher.  Coats and sweaters can finally be washed, hung on the line, and put away.  Area rugs are hauled outside and hung from fences.   Remember, they didn’t have vacuums.  The best they could do in the winter was sweep the dirt and debris off the top.  I don’t have area rugs in my home, but I do have floor mats.  I love a nice rainy spring day for cleaning these!  I just lay them out on our gravel walkway and let the rain wash them.  After they are dried by the sun, I can bring them back inside.

sunny-dayI LOVE the sun!  I really believe that it is nature’s bleach.  A while in direct sunlight on a warm day can whiten and disinfect anything, even cotton diapers!  Before central air, people used to haul their mattresses outside to sit in the sun.  The sun would do its work.  Any mildew was gone.  It even killed bacteria and dust mites.  It seems to me that we could still benefit from this practice.

While blankets, beds, curtains, and rugs were outside, walls and floors could be scrubbed.  The whole house was now airy and fresh.  The cold, dark days of winter were gone.  This is what they really did when spring cleaning.  Maybe they found some broken things that needed to be thrown away, but it wasn’t about getting rid of stuff.  It was about actually cleaning their homes.  This was one of the rewards of spring and now it’s part of why I look forward to it too!

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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4 comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more Jaimie.

  2. I am just laughing reading this post. I can just imagine the people reading it and saying only cleaning your bedsheets, blankets, once a season. We as people in general have become so obsessed with everything sparkling, new, bleached to death. Like you said years ago, the sun did the work, If we would let nature do the work it is supposed to we have no need for heavy chemicals, etc.Personally I cannot wait for spring to open the doors, windows, let some heat in, throw the laundry outside,walk barefoot.

    • Yes, walking barefoot! I love that too. I just reread this post that I had written several months ago. I’m sitting here in front of our wood fire and winter has barely even begun! Spring seems far away, but one of the things that I have learned since living this lifestyle is how to truly appreciate what each season has to give. We don’t have many warmer sunny days left and I need to wash all the sheets soon! But on the other hand, I love sitting in front of the fire on cold winter nights and reading stories with my family. Winter is such a relaxing time for me because the hard work of the summer and fall harvest is done.

  3. I enjoy your posts so very much! I especially loved the one where you showed us how to clean lamps. It has been a long time since I used an oil lamp and I recently got mine back out and the lamp oil to go in them. Now, when the electricity goes out during a storm, or whatever, I am ready with those, my flameless candles, regular candles, flashlights, lanterns and I have learned how to make long-term candles from a mop and Crisco! This old lady is hoping to pass on some of these skills to my granddaughter. Keep up the great work and I love the personality that shines through on both of your faces! Send us more as your time allows; I learn so much or remember so much every time I read one of your posts. God bless!

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