One of the many things I do as an interior designer, besides designing rooms and furniture, choosing fabrics and colors… is making sure my clients move into their newly-done homes that are clean. I have two clients who moved into their “new” homes recently. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on clean and especially spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning may have originated with the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. Modern Iranians still practice khooneh tekouni which means “shaking the house” just before the New Year. The house is thoroughly cleaned from the drapes to the furniture. There is also the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleaning the home in anticipation of the springtime feast of Passover. In remembrance of the Jews’ hasty flight from Egypt, during the seven-day observance of Passover there are strict prohibitions against eating or drinking anything that may have been leavened or fermented with yeast. Observant Jewish people are not only supposed to refrain from leavened foodstuffs (known in Hebrew as chametz), they are expressly commanded to rid their homes of even small remnants of chametz for the length of the holiday. This necessitates a thorough ‘spring cleaning’ of the house.
China, too, has its own tradition of spring cleaning. Like the Iranians, the Chinese people clean their homes in anticipation of the New Year (shortly after the Western new year). They sweep their floors and clean their homes to get rid of bad luck and misfortune that may have accumulated during the previous year. Once the house is clean, good fortune is welcomed by observing a prohibition against sweeping for the few days following the new year in order to prevent sweeping away any good fortune that comes with the turn of the year.
In our modern American culture, and I’m pretty sure most others, spring brings out a desire to clean house and freshen up everything from the winter doldrums. Spring’s fresh air outside makes me want to bring that inside, open up the windows and air out!
So, I’d like to share a few of my favorite tricks and products.
A homemade cleaning solution:
- 1 16 oz. bottle of rubbing alcohol,
- 1/4 cup of ammonia,
- 1 or 2 drops of dishwashing liquid (no more!) in
- 1 gallon of water.
Your windows will positively sparkle with no streaks. What to use to wipe that glass down with? Newspaper is traditional though I find it a little too stiff. I now buy recycled-brown-paper towels from Whole Foods; it’s lint-free which is what you’re looking for.
I also use this to clean countertops, and to get rid of mold growth on my grout. It cleans plastic, and is a good general overall cleaner, and cuts grease… I can’t say enough about this solution! Be careful though around colors and porous finishes, and definitely NOT on wood, although it works great on the outside painted wood around my windows.
One thing I can’t do without either, especially on job sites: the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges. No matter how careful everyone is on the site, there are always scuff marks on the new paint job…and a lightly dampened Mr. Clean does the trick! The sponge is also great for getting up paint drips that are not too old.
Cleaning stainless steel. I found out from a very particular client’s cleaning lady that good ol’ Windex does the job. She also recommends using the recycled brown paper towels when wiping the Windex off the stainless steel surface. Windex leaves a film so that it inhibits fingerprints. I now clean all my clients’ appliances with this when we are finishing up a job and there are lots of contractors’ fingerprints everywhere…Works like a charm!
And finally, for all those people with yellowed silk blouses and yellowed white sheets – adding white vinegar to your wash takes out the yellow! I have five white silk blouses that now look like new. What I did was to wash the blouses in the regular manner with soap, let the wash finish, and rinse. Then I ran the machine again, just with water and about a cup of white vinegar. Voila… white blouses! With sheets, add a generous cupful to the wash cycle.
There, now don’t we all feel cleaner already?
Don’t forget to treat yourself with some fresh flowers!
And to keep flowers fresh, homemade flower preservative solution:
- 2 tbsp. white sugar
- ½ tsp. bleach in a
- quart of room-temperature water.
After this very long winter, Happy Spring Cleaning!