Springtime, 1864: “Swept and dusted sitting-room & kitchen 350 times. Filled lamps 362 times. Swept and dusted chamber & stairs 40 times.” Setting from a movie script? Excerpt from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book? Nope. These notes came from a 2000 Smithsonian exhibit, detailing the history of housecleaning.
The exhibit goes on to explain why whole-home cleaning became an annual (and exhaustive) event in the first warm months of the new year.
“In most climates, you can’t clean very effectively in the middle of the winter,” says Barbara Clark Smith, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “Warmer weather made it possible to get the house really clean.”
It seems we have eased our views on modern spring cleaning practices. It may not necessary to beat a rug on an outside clothesline – but isn’t it a great feeling to throw open the windows? And after you’ve cleaned those windows to a sparkling shine… put your feet up. You’ve earned it!0