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What is Spring Cleaning?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Spring cleaning is an annual deep cleaning which classically takes place in the spring. Spring cleaning is especially common in regions with harsh winters which make it hard to clean during the winter months. During a spring cleaning, a home will be scoured from top to bottom, and gear which is used in the winter will be cleaned and prepared for storage. Many people set aside several days in the spring for spring cleaning, and people may also refer to “spring cleaning” generically to talk about any deep clean, even if it is not spring.

The origins of the tradition of cleaning in the spring are unclear, although there are some interesting theories. Most probably, spring cleaning evolved as a natural response to the need to store things like heavy blankets and other winter equipment, and to the fact that cleaning can be challenging in the winter because the cold weather makes it hard to air a house out, while wet and freezing conditions contribute to buildups of mud, salt, and other materials on floors and around the house.

In a typical spring cleaning, a house is cleaned room by room, with each room being emptied so that it and all of its components can be cleaned. In a bedroom, for example, the bedroom furniture would be removed to allow access to the floor under beds, dressers, and so forth, and the furniture might be broken apart and wiped down to remove dust before being replaced. The mattress would be rotated, while winter garments and bedclothes would be removed and cleaned for storage. The windows would also be opened wide to allow lots of fresh air into the room.

Some people also use spring cleaning as an excuse to sort their possessions, discarding things which are no longer used and bringing them to charities or throwing them away, depending on their condition. The habit of setting aside a specific time in the spring to sort through possessions can be useful for people who tend to accrue things. Spring cleaning may also be a time for things like rotating dishes to ensure that a particular set of dishes is not overused, along with rearranging rooms, replacing worn and tattered pillows and other accent pieces, or for changing artwork, floral displays, and so forth.

Spring cleaning may also include the outside of a house, as well as the inside. Windows may be washed, missing or broken roofing will be repaired or replaced, and the garden may be uncovered for spring. Members of the household may also take this time to inspect the condition of the house and garden, keeping an eye out for projects which will need attention, like outbuildings which require painting, or flower beds which should be re-worked for a new planting.

Like spring itself, spring cleaning renews a house. For people who have felt trapped indoors over the winter, spring cleaning can whisk away the stuffy air and sense of oppression which often develops in enclosed houses, and it also provides an excuse to work on cleaning projects which are infrequently performed, such as cleaning under the fridge or behind the couch.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By brett2912 — On Apr 22, 2013

Surprisingly, spring cleaning is not as popular in Australia as it is in the states.

By letshearit — On May 16, 2011

For those of you who are first time homeowners, what kind of items should you have prepared for your first big spring cleaning? Also, do you have any tips for someone doing this as a first time project, to make everything go smoothly?

I rather find spring cleaning to be a novelty right now, as I haven't ever owned a place that was large enough to actually require this kind of project. But with a new house, things certainly do pile up in a few short months.

By manykitties2 — On May 14, 2011

When I was young my mother used to embark on an epic spring cleaning venture in late March. After the snow was off the ground, and we finally got some decent sunshine, she would break out the cleansers and put the family to work.

I remember that she always had a list of things that needed to be done. She had usually spent some time over the winter preparing it.

Gutter cleaning, washing windows, removing yard debris and packing away winter clothes were just some of the things we had to do. In addition to cleaning, she would also make a list of repairs for anything that couldn’t be fixed during the winter.

Luckily the bulk of the work really did just come once a year.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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