Spring cleaning: Why do we clean our homes at the start of spring?
Good old spring cleaning - almost everyone does it, but no one knows its history! When the spring sun gains strength, the nights become shorter and the days longer, spring cleaning is high on the agenda for most people. The experts at Helpling.de, the online platform for cleaning, look at why we instinctively reach for the broom and where the custom actually comes from, and offer some other tips.
From Persia to China: The roots of spring cleaning
Spring cleaning is not a newfangled invention; it is actually as old as time, practised as far back as Ancient Persia. The Persian festival Nowruz was traditionally preceded by a ritual house cleaning to prepare for the new year. During spring cleaning, families not only cleaned the rooms and furniture, but also all of the pots, pans and dishes.
Even back then they used a compound containing sodium bicarbonate, among other things, for cleaning and other uses. It remains a popular cleaning substance nowadays as it does not contain any chemical irritants but still cleans effectively - a cleaning tradition that is 3.000 years old!
Spring cleaning is also part of the Chinese tradition. At the end of January and in mid-February, floors are swept, windows are scrubbed and furniture is dusted to symbolically remove the misfortune of the previous year.
It is all the more beautiful that this tradition has survived through the ages to the present day. Because actually, even today, spring cleaning marks a kind of new beginning, if you think about it. Such rituals are important because they provide stability and security in fast-moving times.
Spring cleaning is in our nature: a biological phenomenon
The western tradition of spring cleaning probably originated because of favourable weather conditions. In spring, it is neither too hot nor too cold to open the windows and air the house out, while the windy weather is ideal for beating the dust out of rugs and drying curtains outside in the fresh air.
Scientists suggest that there may be another reason why we really go all out at this time of year: in the dark winter months, our bodies produce melatonin - a natural hormone that makes us tired and sleepy.
When the first rays of sunlight come out in spring, our body produces much less of this hormone. As a result, we have more energy. Instinctively, our body forms the desire to get moving and make a fresh start, cleaning out and leaving the dirt of the old year behind.
Good for your health
In the days before vacuum cleaners and heaters, soot from fireplaces accumulated in homes over the winter. It was therefore customary to dust and clean in March, when the temperatures were warm enough to open the windows and let in the first rays of sunlight. The work was usually done by the men, who helped with the annual house cleaning just as much as the rest of the family. Classical role models for housework only developed later.
Cleaning was thus also a boon for (mental) health and the respiratory system - and it still is. We know: a clean home brightens our mood. A positive mood in turn improves our blood circulation, blood oxygenation and prevents anxiety and stress. Therefore, cleaning is important to help create a home that inspires peace and harmony. It’s not only good for our soul, but also for our health.
10 million bacteria want to be cleaned
If you’re looking to embrace this yearly tradition, you might want to look beyond just dusting your shelves, deep-cleaning your kitchen and hoovering the carpets. For instance, did you know that kitchen sponges and tea towels are among the dirtiest household items and contain up to 10 million bacteria per square inch. To put that into perspective, that's about 200.000 times more than the average toilet seat!
If a tea towel is in constant use, it is easy to lose track of how long it has been out, with dangerous consequences, as researchers from the University of Mauritius discovered. To examine the bacteria content in different households, the scientists had 100 dish towels used for a month. The result: one in two ended up contaminated with bacteria of concern. On more than every third tea towel, the researchers found E. coli, which can cause diarrhoea and intestinal inflammation.
So, you might also want to pop your dishcloths and tea towels into the washing machine for a hot wash!
If spring cleaning isn’t for you, and you’d rather focus on something else in your daily life, that shouldn’t stop you from having a spotless home! Get a little extra help from Helpling.de and book a cleaner!