Spring cleaning: its history and importance
By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor
Known as spring cleaning, the act of giving your living space a thorough going-over during the month of April is probably not unfamiliar to you. But why spring? Surely, in Vancouver’s temperate climate, and with modern innovations such as heating and vacuum cleaners, we could be getting our clean on year-round.
There are myriad probabilities for why “spring cleaning” is a thing as opposed to November cleaning or July cleaning, but the most likely explanation is the simplest: in pre-electricity times (and in some rural areas nowadays), folks would heat their homes with wood and coal, and keep their houses tightly sealed against the cold elements of winter. Everything got really filthy, and the warmth of spring was the first opportunity to open all the windows, drag everything outside, the beat the dust out with broomsticks. Fun for the whole family!
Spring also symbolizes new beginnings. Different cultures celebrate their New Year during spring, such as the Persian New Year (Norouz). Judaism’s Passover celebration, in spring, also entails a thorough cleaning of the house to get rid of any bread crumbs. Chinese New Year, in late winter/early spring, also dictates a fresh sweep of the house.
For students, cleaning during springtime is just practical. When the semester ends, we can finally sell old textbooks and recycle unwanted notes and handouts. We can get rid of some winter clothes to make room for summer clothes. And just because we haven’t been heating our homes with coal all winter, it doesn’t mean that our airspace isn’t loaded with dust, dead skin (ew!), and various chemical residues from cleaning or beauty products.
Spring cleaning is a great opportunity for anyone to shed some light on the mustier corners of our lives, whether you’re a 19th-century housewife or a thoroughly modern college student. Here are a few often-overlooked areas to get you started on your clean-mission.
Look up—way up: People often overlook cleaning their ceilings and tops of cupboards. Grab a stepladder or a sturdy chair and get to it! Wash your walls with an all-purpose cleaner or just dust them. Dust or clean light fixtures, ceiling fans, the top of your fridge, and anything else that the Jolly Green Giant might notice if he came over for brunch. Do this step first, because cleaning your house from top to bottom just makes sense.
Bookshelf: Not only does your bookshelf accrue a lot of dust, it probably houses more than a few books you’ll never read again. Empty your shelves. Make a pile of books to get rid of, and as for the rest, flip the pages to get the dust out, thoroughly clean the shelves, and replace all the books.
Computer: If you’re the type of person who still has a desktop computer, it’s a breeding ground for epic dust. Head to Staples and invest in some compressed air. Unplug the CPU and all the wires. Move everything off your desk. Clean all the components with compressed air and a microfibre cloth, and then clean your desk, vacuuming while your computer is out of the area.
Window treatments: Unless your blinds and curtains are cleaned regularly, they probably contribute to a lot of dust in your home. Run your curtains through the washing machine. Venetian blinds are a little trickier to clean, depending on how much dust and grease has built up. If the slats aren’t too bad, they can be cleaned with a microfibre dusting glove (or Swiffer-type duster). If they are a total nightmare reminiscent of the slum apartment I moved into in my first year of college, they may need to be removed, soaked in cleanser in your tub (possibly overnight), and then cleaned with a rag.
There are many more spots in your life that could use a thorough wipe, including but not limited to: bedding, backpack, makeup brushes, under the kitchen sink, the outsides of your windows, and the far-reaches of your closet. But I think I’ve given you enough to get you started.