Time for a spring clean and give your home a once-over
House and garden

Time for a spring clean and give your home a once-over

Throw out unwanted junk and tidy away clutter before you launch into a thorough clean in time for the change in season

Solange Vázquez


Friday, 1 March 2024, 15:31


Some cultures give great importance to the home as a temple for rest and serenity, so the start of the year or a change in season are perfect times to restore any of that peace and harmony that may have been put out of place. It's traditional in some northern European countries to have two deep cleans a year - in summer and in the new year - and in Japan they have the age-old tradition of Oosouji (great clean), which involves getting rid of anything that is not of use at home and tying up loose ends before 28 December, in order to start the year without unnecessary burdens. So now that spring is approaching, perhaps it's time to have a closer look at our home.

The key

Throw stuff out

We don't need a major renovation to make our home more welcoming and attractive. Moving unwanted or unnecessary items out of the way can make a big difference. A survey carried out in the US in the nineties revealed that people spend 70% of their time at home, so taking care of the scene around us is essential. Since then, according to Dane Meik Wiking, based on the theory of the Happiness Research Institute, we have become even more home-based. Comfort is therefore of utmost importance and to achieve this, there's nothing like a good spring clean, which should be approached "as if it were a house move, in the sense that we have to throw out anything of no use to us" says Wiking in his famous book My Hygge Home.

Spain's consumers association OCU tells us how to do it: if it's in good condition, donate it, if not, throw it out. Out goes anything we have more than one of (do we need five funnels?), broken or obsolete objects (old mobile phones from the last 20 years, for example) and incomplete items (plastic containers with no lid...) or worn out (full notebooks). A word of advice on how to decide whether something falls into these categories: if it makes us happy, keep it. OCU experts say start with clothes. "We should leave photographs and letters till last, not just because of their sentimental value, but also because they are unique," says the organisation. So sorting out priority should be: clothes, books, papers and other objects and, last, things with sentimental value.

And once we've got rid of all that useless junk, put what we do keep in its place.

Tidy up

Everything in its place

Should we buy boxes to keep things in? There's no need; shoe boxes are very useful "because of their size and durability," says the OCU. They can be used for first aid kits, sewing boxes, children's crayons, tights, socks... almost everything. And it's more sustainable than buying plastic boxes. What about clothes? "The main recommendation is to throw out anything that doesn't fit in one of these three categories: currently in use; needed for a limited period; and to be kept indefinitely." And a warning: keeping a whole pile of old clothes to wear in the house is a mistake (we only need a few things).

What we do decide to keep we should hang in wardrobes and drawers; clothes folded and stored vertically take up less space.

Papers should be divided according to frequency of use and kept in folders. Bags, which take up a lot of space and are difficult to store, and suitcases can be stored inside each other. But no more than two together or we're likely to forget where they are.

Another piece of advice: when we have a spring clean, we'll find a lot of small things - earrings, cards, coins, the measuring tape we used three months ago - that have been in the wrong place for months or even years (drawers, key bowls that contain everything...). It's time to round them all up and put them in their right place.

Now time to clean

All shiny and new

Once we have cleared the house of unwanted junk and tidied away clutter, cleaning is easy. We should start with one room and not go onto the next until that one is finished. And very important: "Mend, or have mended, anything that needs repairing," says the OCU. The light bulb that blew months ago, the picture frame that has come unstuck, the lamp that has been loose for as long as you can remember, the stain on the wall you haven't cleaned off, a mark on the floor... little things that give a bad impression.

As for the spring clean itself, include windows, frames and blinds, doors, the tops of wardrobes and shelves, picture frames, cupboards, the telephone, television and other appliances.

Go through the kitchen cupboards and throw out anything that's out of date, empty bookshelves and turn the mattress, and wash curtains and bedspreads, replacing any old ones if the budget allows.

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