If you believe the groundhog, we'll have an early spring this year. Of course, that's hard to fathom when we have so much snow outside! Early spring or not, it's easy to think wistfully of fresh air, laundry hanging on the line and lots of fun, outdoor time. But, along with the fresh air pouring in open windows comes a strong urge to clean our houses! This may be a holdover from the Victorian Era, when housewives made a yearly tradition out of spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning was no small thing for the Victorians. "Anything that could be cleaned was," Melinda Ann Bellamy wrote in an article called "Rites of Spring" (Victorian Decorating & Lifestyle magazine, Volume 13, No. 1, May 2001). In the era before vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners, rugs would be taken up, hung outside and beaten until clean. Every piece of wood was polished and every floor waxed. Drapes, curtains and bedding were all washed. If you're a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, then you know that the Ingalls family went so far as to take apart the mattresses and re-stuff them with fresh straw. In short, every nook and cranny and every pot and pan was cleaned and polished.
While the urge to spring clean may still strike, how many of us go to those lengths to clean our homes each year? It's a fantastic thought. I would love to take everything apart, piece by piece, clean it and put it back together again. Or, more importantly, I want to enjoy my house after all that work is done! But, unlike the Victorians, I'm a one-woman cleaning force in my house. Many Victorian families employed help, often in the form of a teenage girl or two who were the mother's assistants. They also had large families and kept the older children busy with hours of spring cleaning tasks.
Though, I don't think I'm going to spring clean my whole house from top to bottom this spring, I do intend on cleaning my kitchen thoroughly. It's hard to believe that it's been two years since I finished the last major kitchen cleaning! It's time to tackle that task again. I may try to do it Victorian style and spend a focused two or three weeks on it. We'll see. I'll keep you posted! What are your spring cleaning plans?