After a particularly long and cold winter, spring is now just a matter of days away. It’s time to start thinking about new beginnings — for you, your family and your home.
Yes, that’s right — spring cleaning season is once again upon us. You may be dreading all the hard work that lies ahead, but try to keep the goal in mind. You want a clean, tidy and welcoming home to set up you and your family for the year ahead. A little planning and preparation now should set you up for spring cleaning success.
But to give you a little added motivation, we thought we’d compile a list of surprising facts about spring cleaning. While we came across dozens during our research, here are 10 of the most fascinating.
1. You’re Never Alone in Bed
The average mattress is a sponge for sweat, skin and general nastiness. So it’s not surprising that it’s also a magnet for mites. In fact, there could be around six billion of the little critters on your mattress right now. Mites can cause skin irritation and breathing difficulties, so regular cleaning is a must.
As a bare minimum, strip your mattress once a week and vacuum it thoroughly with the most appropriate tools and attachments. You can kill bacteria and some of those mites by spraying the surface of the mattress with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. And at least once a month, give your mattress an airing outside.
2. The Dirtiest Thing in Your Home Could Be a Sponge
One of the main spring cleaning tools in most homes is the humble sponge. But it might horrify you to discover that the average kitchen sponge contains around 10 million bacteria. To put this into context, that’s probably more than you have on your toilet seat right now.
If you’re using a dirty sponge during your spring cleaning sessions, all you’re doing is spreading dirt and bacteria around. Soak your sponges on boiling, soapy water after every use. And replace them every few weeks.
3. The Spring Cleaning Phenomenon May Come from Persia
Some historians believe that spring cleaning originated in Iran. Local people celebrated the New Year with a cleaning frenzy known as khooneh tekouni (shaking the house). This involved everything in the home being thoroughly cleaned. And all the family was expected to take part.
More recently, Catholic Priests and their congregations used to clean the altar just before Easter celebrations (during the spring). One school of thought is that this ritual was taken back into the homes of churchgoers.
Perhaps the most plausible explanation for the spring cleaning phenomenon relates to dusting. In 19th century America, people would dust and their homes in March — when temperatures start to rise after winter. This was perceived as a time of year when it was safe to open windows for ventilation. Not too warm, not too cold, and not too many insects flying around.
4. Spring Cleaning is a Great Workout
Did you know that some vigorous spring cleaning gives you a better workout than some brisk walking? Depending on exactly what you’re spring cleaning, you could be burning up to 200 calories per hour. This should save you a small fortune in gym subscriptions.
5. Antibacterial Spray Isn’t a Miracle Cure for Germs
A huge part of your spring cleaning campaign is going to involve killing germs. You may go through several bottles of antibacterial spray during the course of the entire process. But it won’t work unless you use it properly.
The most important thing to remember is that the average antibacterial spray requires a minimum of 60 seconds contact time in order to work. Spray your surfaces, and then go do something else for a minute or two. Always use a clean cloth to wipe your surfaces dry, or you might be adding as many bacteria as you’re killing.
6. Mayo Makes a Great Wood Cleaner
Spring cleaning is about paying extra attention to the detailed cleaning tasks that get hurried throughout the year. For example, you might finally want to remove those annoying coffee cup rings from your wooden dining table.
Before you try store-bought cleaners and expensive removal agents, try a little mayonnaise. Cover each ring with a generous tablespoon of mayo, and leave it overnight. Wipe it up with a clean, microfibre cloth in the morning, and there’s a good chance those annoying rings will have vanished.
7. Spring Cleaning is a Biological Phenomenon in All of Us
The Western tradition of spring cleaning probably came about because of the favourable weather conditions. Not too hot, and not too cold to open windows. But there could be another reason why we choose to go hell for leather at this time of year.
During the dark, winter months, our bodies create melatonin — a natural hormone that makes us feel tired and ready for sleep. But when the days begin to get longer in the spring, our bodies create a lot less of this important hormone. As a result, we have bags more energy, and an innate desire to rid ourselves of everything related to the previous winter (including dirt!).
8. Dust ISN’T Mostly Dead Skin
There’s a lot of erroneous information in the ether about dust. This mysterious, ubiquitous substance we all battle against is actually comprised of many different substances, most of which come from outside.
According to LiveScience, the bulk of household dust is comprised of animal dander, insect waste, insect carcases, dirt, sand and various airborne pollutants. Whenever we open a door or a window, more of this nastiness floats inside our home. We also bring these substances into our homes on our bodies and clothes. Yes, there is some skin mixed in for good measure, but not a lot.
9. Spring Cleaning Rituals Are Still Stuck in the 1950s
It would seem that global feminism movements and long-fought battles for equality among the sexes haven’t quite stretched to domestic spring cleaning. According to a recent study, the average woman cleans their home for nearly 13,000 hours during their lifetime. Compare this with the mere 6,500 hours of cleaning performed by men, and you can see that we’ve got a long way to go before the burden of spring cleaning is shared equally.
The same survey revealed that around a third of the UK’s population do only the bare minimum of cleaning. The very idea of spring cleaning is probably alien to one in three of us.
10. Carpets Hold a Serious Amount of Dirt
The average household carpet can store a huge amount of dirt — most of which is usually hidden deep within the pile. According to one estimate, each square metre of carpet is capable of holding up to a kilo of dirt. This is why regular vacuum cleaning with a bagless cleaner is crucial, whether or not you can see dirt and dust with your own eyes.
Take Iceland’s Example
Spring cleaning is a great way to set your home up for a year of comfort and health. If you ever want to see what a spotless home looks like, take a trip to Iceland. According to the Environmental Performance Index, Iceland is the cleanest country in the world.
Spring cleaning isn’t rocket science, but it does require, planning, organisation and a lot of hard work. But if you have the right tools for the job — and the motivation to get the job done — it should be a piece of cake.