Traditionally a time for refreshing the home after a long winter in hibernation, spring often brings with it that dreaded activity ‘the big clean’. But why do we feel the urge to spritz, polish and wipe every surface to within an inch of its life in March and is it a practice that still has a place in modern life?
There are a number of reasons why we choose to refresh our homes and interior designs as the days become longer and the nights shorter, tradition, religion and even our make-up as human beings all play their part.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century saw a huge growth in factories pumping out soot and dirt, and coal fires and open flame lighting in the home left a layer of grime over everything during the winter as windows were kept firmly shut against the cold. As soon as warmer, lighter days came round, homes were thrown open to the light and the annual housekeeping took place to rid the home of accumulated dirt. In the Jewish faith, spring cleaning is linked to Passover, which occurs in March or April. Before the holiday began, a cleaning process to rid the home of any yeast bread takes place. This is because slaves in Egypt ate unleavened bread, which was later adopted by the Jews as a symbol of their survival and having even crumbs of bread made with yeast in the house was viewed as an ungrateful act. In China, spring cleaning is associated with their New Year, riding the house of any bad fortune that may have befallen it in the past year, while the Catholic Church has a custom of cleaning the altar before Good Friday (30th March 2018) and the members of the Greek Orthodox church clean their homes in the week before Lent.
As well as tradition, though, simple human biology might well be at play in our urge to all this scrubbing and mopping. In the winter months, the lack of daylight triggers the release of melatonin in our brains. It’s the hormone that causes us to feel sleepy, so could well explain why we simply don’t feel the urge to clean as much in the winter – we’re just too tired! As soon as the days start getting lighter and longer the need for our bodies to produce melatonin subsides and we become far more energized.
Of course, these days with modern technology at our fingertips and a much cleaner world around us, we’re unlikely to come out of the winter months to see dappled light playing on mounds of dust and soot. So, do we still take up the broom and mop at the first sign of longer days? Well, according to a survey by AppliancesDirect.co.uk, the great spring clean is definitely on its way out, with 62% of respondents saying they don’t spring clean their house every year. In fact, cleaning as a whole is fast losing favour and while just 7% of those surveyed revealed they employed someone to clean for them, a massive 77% would have one if the could afford it and 44% would like to have a robot to do it for them.
Of course, one great way to make cleaning as elbow grease-free is to invest in a kitchen that is as sleek-lined as possible. Buying a design such as a hand-painted Linear or Shaker that won’t trap the dust and is simple to wipe down could be the answer. So, when you’re choosing your kitchen, think carefully about how much time you really want to spend cleaning it. Unless you have a robot to do it for you!
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