Spring Cleaning Time Is Here!

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Sponge and cleansers

Have you ever heard the term “spring cleaning” ? Do you know how it originated? Well, depending on where you’re from, the custom has many origins. Spring cleaning is representative of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. This period is called the “Passover”. Jewish families clean their homes to remove any yeast bread (chametz). As slaves, they were fed unleavened bread, meaning it had no yeast. The Jews adopted this food as a symbol of their survival. To have leaned bread in the home during Passover is considered unthankful.

It is customary for members of the Christian faith to clean the church alter before Good Friday. Members of the Greek Orthodox church clean their homes during the entire week that leads to Lent. Lent is the 40 days which comes before Easter. This period of time represents Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and departure to the desert for 40 days.

The Persian New Year, called Nowruz, is when Iranians do their spring cleaning. Beginning on the first day of spring, this 13 day celebration includes cleaning the house, buying new clothes, and spending time with loved ones.

In America, the idea of spring cleaning began in the 1800’s, according to the Washington Post. The rituals of winter left homes filled with dust, soot, and grime. Most homes used wood or coal to cook and heat with. Lamps during this time burned whale oil or kerosene which caused the formation of soot on household items. To implement proper cleaning, the process had to occur during a time when windows could be opened to let the soot out. Spring was the perfect time.

As we have advanced to modern times, we have new technology and chemicals to help us make spring cleaning a breeze. As we approach this annual ritual, let’s be mindful of some safety precautions to apply when cleaning.

First of all, organization is key. Make a list of all of the areas you desire to clean. Write out everything that you will need to make the job successful. Be sure to include gloves, trash bags, boxes, protective eyewear, masks, step stool, broom, dust pan, mop, bucket, wet and dry cloths, and any other products you may need. Research purchasing these items at a store that will give you the best price, as many of these items have surged in pricing recently.

Safety should always come first! As in the 1800’s, it is still a good idea to open the windows to ventilate rooms while cleaning. The chemicals used to clean today are very strong and cause damage to the lungs, eyes, and skin if inhaled for too long. Cleaning chemicals can also make you feel dizzy, vomit, or pass out.

To prevent negative outcomes from using cleaning chemicals, follow these safety rules. Store chemicals away from children and pets. Always read the instructions on the chemical label and use as directed. Concentrated cleaning products should always be diluted before use. Dilution ratios are made of parts, for example a ratio of 1:4 means 1 part chemical to 4 parts water. This information will vary by product and most labels will give you the formula. A common mistake that many consumers make is believing that the stronger the chemical the more effective it is. This is not always true.

When you are cleaning to manage germs a key word to look for is disinfectant. Disinfectants kill pathogens and microbes. The label will indicate the level of the chemical formulation and the percentage of pathogens it will kill. Soil must be removed with a cleaner before using the disinfectant. Some products contain both a cleaner and disinfectant. Keep in mind that there are different cleaners for different household items, for example if you are cleaning wood you would gently dust the area and apply a furniture polish to add shine and luster. Harsh chemicals and disinfectants would stain wood or laminate furniture. There are several products on the market to clean leather or faux leather furniture safely.

Always wear chemical proof rubber gloves when working with chemicals, it is also a good idea to wear protective eyewear to avoid entry into the eyes. Do not mix chemicals for any reason. This is a recipe for disaster! Mixing chemicals can produce toxic fumes or create a highly corrosive product. This can lead to respiratory problems, burns to the skin and in some cases the gases from mixed products can affect the nervous system, lungs, liver, and even cause death. Here are a few common cleaning products should never be mixed: Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, drain cleaner and more drain cleaner, bleach and ammonia, bleach and rubbing alcohol, and bleach and vinegar.

When all of the closets and cabinets are clean and dusted, you will want to clean your floors. Remember the tips for using chemicals and wear shoes that will allow you to clean your floors without slipping. Maintain air ventilation and allow floors to completely dry before allowing anyone to walk on them to prevent slips and falls.

Finally, one of the latest social media trends is storing items in special countertop containers. These containers can be purchased at almost any store and they can hold anything from cereal and washing pods, to your favorite snacks. This is a great way to eliminate clutter in the kitchen, and even the bathroom and bedroom. To learn more home cleaning tips, contact Cheri Bennett at N.C. Cooperative Extension-Richmond County Center, phone 910-417-4928 or cheri_bennett@ncsu.edu .