It happens every February: everyone starts talking about spring cleaning. I’m going to take a slightly contrarian position and encourage you to skip it entirely. Here’s why, and what you might do instead that’s a more profitable use of your time.
Where did spring cleaning come from?
“When homes were heated with wood, coal or coal oil furnaces, the winter heating season brought a build-up of soot and ash on walls, furniture and fabrics. Spring cleaning marked the end of the heating season, when the entire house was aired and scrubbed clean of the dim, smoky film given off by older heat sources.
But with today’s heating technology, this rationale no longer applies. Today’s central or forced air furnaces, disposable air filters, and air filtration systems prevent a build-up of soot or film–and knock the props out from under the idea of a top-to-bottom spring clean.
Modern lives, too, no longer possess the rhythm and pace required to sustain an old-fashioned cleaning marathon. Today’s working moms or active mothers of young children don’t have the ability to clear two weeks of other commitments to engage in a full-time, full-bore spring cleaning session.” (source: The Case Against Spring Cleaning)
In other words, spring cleaning is an antiquated idea based on a reality that doesn’t exist anymore.
Reasons to skip spring cleaning
One: Your kids and husband hate doing it.
Come on, admit it.
Men and kids would rather be doing just about anything else. Yes, this is a stereotype, but those exist for a reason: they’re often true! If you’re married to a clean freak, no need to email me.
Two: If you have seasonal allergies, spring cleaning will make you miserable.
Opening the windows, moving furniture and dusting stuff is going to make you horribly sick!
Three: You have better things to do.
Hopefully the house is under control on a daily/weekly basis due to your good habits. Spend spring time doing fun things with your family instead of scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush. (Tip: get your 3 and 4 year old to wipe them with a baby wipe. They think it’s fun!)
Things To Do Instead of Spring Cleaning
Instead of spring cleaning per se, if you get the itch to do something to improve the look of your home, why not do some chores that will save you money?
Vacuum Your Refrigerator Coils
They’re either at the bottom of the front of your fridge (you might have to remove a plastic guard that covers them) or at the back of the fridge, but do vacuum them periodically.
Why? Because the fridge will use more energy to keep food cool if the coils are crusty and gross. And using more energy isn’t very green or budget-friendly. See this post on getting an energy audit for more ways to clean and save money on utilities.
Don’t Clean – Declutter!
Instead of cleaning, do a deep declutter of your home. Reducing clutter makes all future cleaning faster and easier.
Focus on kids’ rooms and your closet and kitchen first. These are areas that get out of control, fast. The more stuff in a kid’s room, the less likely they are to clean it up. And cluttered closets and kitchens complicate your daily life! See this post about minimalist wardrobes.
Get Rid Your “Tool-Shaped Objects”
Christopher Schwarz, author of The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, warns against “tool-shaped objects“. These are poorly designed, crappy tools that make your job harder and more dangerous.
I’m betting you have some of those in your home! Dollar Store brooms, T-shirt rags, old nasty mops, a half-broken vacuum (I had one held together with duct tape – true story!).
Suggestions: spend some money on good tools and save yourself time and headache! I’m partial to microfiber cloths (this is a reader supported site, and that’s an Amazon affiliate link, meaning I’ll earn a few pennies if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks!). They clean everything, and can often be used with just water. Throw away your stained, nasty rags and invest in these. Budget and eco-friendly.
Clean your dryer’s lint vent
Why? Cleaning the lint out of your dryer can help prevent house fires. It also makes your dryer work better, saving you money on utilities and probably extending the life of the appliance. You can get a dryer lint cleaning kit like this one to make the task simple.
Ask your utility company for an energy audit
Typically these audits are free. And you’ll have a list of suggestions from your utility company on changes to make to your home to save money. See: I had an energy audit on my house – here’s what happened.
You may also enjoy:
- Why I don’t make homemade laundry detergent
- Dirty little secrets about natural homemade cleaners
- My favorite cleaning tools – not a “tool-shaped object” in the bunch