Parents, films, books, television and society in general all tell us that spring is the best time for a full, proper clean. For centuries the practise of scrubbing the whole house from top to bottom when winter ends has been ingrained in Western culture. But more and more experts are suggesting that if you only go to great lengths once a year to keep your home or workspace clean then summer might be the time to do so.
The theory is that spring cleaning first originated with the ancient Hebrews who would go to great lengths to make sure that their homes were spotless before the annual Passover feast.
This habit was taken up by the Catholic Church which traditionally cleans the church altar and all related paraphernalia just before Good Friday every year. This tradition spread across the Christian world and families would clean their entire house from top to bottom during the first week of lent. Indeed in Greece, Russia and the other Orthodox nations the first day of Lent is still known as “Cleaning Monday.”
The reason the tradition became so ingrained in northern Europe and later in the USA and Canada is probably due to the wetter climates in those areas. It is claimed that March was the best time of year for dusting because it was warm enough to open windows and doors but not warm enough for insects to be a problem. Still it was windy enough for the dust to be blown out of the house. But when you bear in mind that the first vacuum cleaner was invented in 1901 this doesn’t really seem so relevant anymore.
It is also pointed out that people living in these countries would have had a fire on all through the winter and it was only when Spring rolled around that they were able to scrub the dirt and soot from their walls.
Still spring cleaning remains common around the world and some countries have developed some strange habits around the tradition. In Guatemala all the rubbish cleaned out of the house is ceremonially burnt to cleanse the home of the Devil. The Thais have a 48 hour water fight with pistols, balloons and more in order to wash away their sins. In parts of Iran they still celebrate the first day of spring with “Nowruz” literally the shaking of the house. This is done to get rid of evil spirits and the past. Traditionally this involves cleaning everything in the house, repainting and maybe even burning sandlewood or a herb called espand to produce a nice smell.
With all of this in mind it seems almost a shame to move on from the tradition but all the reasons why spring was the ideal time to clean no longer apply. We do have vacuum cleaners, central heating and you’d be hard pushed to find many Britons who feel the need to exorcise their homes of demons. A quick look at comments from many cleaning companies suggests that you might well be better off doing your big clean in summer. Allergies are on the rise, so are dirt, bugs and visitors. Viruses, germs and bacteria are all more likely to thrive in the warmer weather as well. They also point out that people are more likely to have time off work to clean their homes and that offices will likely have fewer staff present during the summer months.
Everyone who has used a washing machine in summer (so… everyone) will know that they are more likely to smell in the summer because of the increased humidity. Showers and baths are at a higher risk of developing mould and mildew for the same reason. Spring cleaning might be the perfect time to organise your kitchen summer is a better time to deal with the bins and appliances. That ever pesky humidity can wreak havoc with both.
The better weather also makes it easier to clean things outdoors, plus you have the added reward of actually being able to use the patio furniture and barbecue once you’ve scrubbed them.
Lots of experts and articles also point out that all of the hard work done during spring cleaning is likely to be undone very quickly once summer arrives. Also whether you have small children in the house or not, summer causes an extra layer of sweat and sticky fingerprints on every surface.
- Between 70 and 80 per cent of dust particles in a home or office are made up of dead skin cells. The rest are outdoor particles like soil or pollen.
- Over six million people use domestic cleaning services in the UK and over two million of them admit to cleaning themselves before the cleaner comes.
- Surveys and reports suggest that Iceland is the cleanest country in the world.
- They also found that just under half of couples regularly argue about cleaning and tidiness.
- An hour’s worth of vigorous cleaning will burn around 100 calories.
- The average woman spends 12,896 hours in her lifetime cleaning. The average man spends around half that, clocking in at 6, 448 hours.
- Most ant-bacterial cleaners are designed to be left on surfaces for up to a minute so wiping them away immediately massively reduces their effectiveness.
- Almost 70 per cent of diseases are caused by people being unhygienic in the way they store and prepare food.
- Researchers have found that the air blown out from vacuums has the highest concentration of germs of anywhere in your house. It was followed by washing up sponges, cutting boards, toilets and remote controls.
- The average kitchen dishcloth can contain four billion living germs.
- Salmonella can survive freezing and can survive on dry surfaces for at least 24 hours.
- Office telephones harbour around 25,000 germs per square inch.
- The number of bacteria on any surface will increase by almost a third every day if not disinfected.
- 98 per cent of people who work in an office will catch a contagious disease from their workspace.
So if that is why people and businesses should consider moving their big cleans to the summer what are the tips for making the procedure as efficient and effective as possible?
For a whole host of reasons, from the increased heat and spending more time outdoors, showers both at home or at work will see much more action during the summer. But the increased risk of mould and mildew mean that everyone should keep a window open or the fan on to keep humidity down.
It is also the perfect time to give all your bins a scrub down. If you forget the smell is pretty likely to remind you. The next is fairly obvious, though not strictly part of a regulated “spring” clean, make certain that any and all crumbs are cleaned up immediately. Though you should always do this, the prevalence of bugs, pests and heat in summer make it especially urgent during these months.
Also remember that there is some truth to all those old wives’ tales you heard as a child. The leftovers from those afternoon barbecues needn’t go to waste. Lemons are often claimed to be “nature’s disinfectant,” and can be used to clean stainless steel fixtures. Tomato Ketchup can be used to shine copper and silverware. The inside of a banana peel can be used to buff leather. Most people know how effective vinegar can be when used to polish glass surfaces and apparently mayonnaise is mighty when it comes to getting off water rings that glasses leave on table tops.
Then there are washing machines which, as mentioned above are more likely to smell in the summer. To prevent this you are advised to run the machine without anything in it but hot water and plenty of detergent, then to leave the door open for a while after the cycle has finished.
Once you’ve taken all of this into account then you can get back to your usual spring cleaning routine. If you want any help with that then a quick google search will reveal an endless list of advice articles and top tips lists. Literally endless.