Yes, once again, the time of year is upon us.

The time has come to throw open the windows and draw back the blinds and let some of the stale winter air out of the house. The time has come time to go down to the basement or dig through the recesses of your closets and break out all of those things like golf clubs, tennis rackets, baseball gloves and barbecue grills that have been put into hibernation and gathered dust during those long winter months.

The time has come to trade snow shovels in for rakes and to peel away the layers of dead leaves that have slowly piled up around the edges of the house. The time has come to sink your hands into the moist Earth and pull up any dead roots and replace them with seedlings that will soon blossom into wondrous things of beauty and delight.

The time has come to wash the salt and other assorted gunk off your car and maybe, while you’re at it, sweep off the porch and wash those windows to let even more sunlight in. The time has come to fold up those bulky woolen sweaters and thick coats that kept you so warm during those winter months and replace them with t-shirts and light jackets. The time has come to stow those heavy winter boots and replace them with sneakers or sandals and to watch the weather report with a sense of anticipation rather than dread.

The time has come to say hello to your neighbors and inquire about their lives instead of focusing only on your own and the time has come to plan summer vacations and picnics and outings and graduations and re-unions and countless other things to do on a warm spring day.

For these reasons and many, many others that I can’t begin to describe, I’ve always looked forward to spring cleaning. This year though, given the recent events that have unfolded, they seem to have taken on a new meaning.

Besides the physical nature of those things I’ve described, I think, that for me, this is the year that a little mental cleansing is in order. A time to pause and reflect on just how lucky I’ve been over the years and how blessed I truly am. I think, that for me, there was a tendency to wallow in whatever I deemed was important at the time and in doing that, I packed a little piece of myself up along the way. I’d liken it to putting things away or storing them for up for the winter season and then forgetting about them. This year, and hopefully in the many more to come, I’d like to get those pieces back and let them see the light of day.

It’s almost like getting reacquainted with an old and dear friend who, though they might have vanished for a long time, they were never really that far away and certainly were never really gone.

Spring has sprung!

It’s time to turn off the heater, turn on the radio and fling open the windows and doors! Did you know you can burn off that 200 calorie Tamale of Death just by mopping the floor?

Spring Cleaning 5.0

Don't try to clean a cluttered room. Put things away so there’s no wasting time cleaning around obstacles. So before getting out the vacuum and dust rags gather five containers.

  1. Label the first container Trash for any items that are no longer used.
  2. The second container is for giving away anything that is no longer used or wanted but that can be used by someone else. Be extra generous and call a favorite charity. Some will even pick up donations of household goods. For some real thriftiness, organize a yard sale the weekend before the scheduled pick up.
  3. The third container is for storage. Group similar items together and label the containers. This way all of my Star Wars collectibles and comic books are within easy reach.
  4. The fourth container is for putting away things that are used on a regular basis. If the “Put Away” container is too big for the ready storage in the room it’s time to reassess some decisions and put some in storage.
  5. In this day and age information has become a primary commodity and one absolutely needs a fifth container labeled Shred.*

Time to Clean the Closets!

And the floors and the walls and the bookshelves. Making a checklist can help keep things on track show what’s been accomplished. Here’s a sample from Spring Cleaning Tips - Home Made Simple and several from Grandmother’s Kitchen Guide (circa the Depression era).

  • Go through clothes and get rid of anything that hasn’t been worn in the last year. Chances are it won’t be worn next year either. Store away any seasonal clothes.
  • Wash all of the bedding. Dry clean or wash comforters at the laundry mat and store them away.
  • Clean all light fixtures.
  • Clean the basement and garage.Put up some extra shelves in the food cellar to keep the varmints out of the canning and preserves.
  • Thoroughly dust furniture, don’t forget the bookshelves and books! Grandma utilized pieces of gum camphor by placing it near books on shelves to protect them from mice.
  • Clean underneath appliances, like the stove and fridge. Move the furniture and clean beneath.
  • Clean the lampshades. Grandma cleaned her parchment ones with a cloth dampened with olive oil. It “will remove all soil and restore all the former freshness.”
  • Did you know that people used to “toughen glassware” by putting it in cold water, bringing it gradually to a boil, letting it boil for four hours and then allowing it to cool slowly? They said hot water would never crack it. For modern dishware dust or wash china, crystal and knickknacks.
  • Wash blinds and shades. While Grandma’s household hints for renewing window shades recommends renewing by spreading out flat and applying a coat of ordinary house paint, mini blinds are a horse of a different color. To wash mini blinds, take them outside and lay them on a blanket on a slanted surface. Using a mild ammonia solution or all-purpose cleaner and a soft brush stretch the blinds out and scrub gently. Turn over and do the other side. Rinse with the hose and hang up to dry on a clothesline.
  • Dry clean or wash curtains and drapes. Grandma was advised to “paint patent cloth pins the color of your decorations in different rooms and use a pair to pin back curtains at night or during showers. This keeps the curtains from being soiled by the screens.”
  • Steam clean the carpets and furniture.

It’s a Spring Cleaning Fling!

What to do about stubborn stains? Back in the day Grandma would use iodine to hide the scratches on wood and a paste made up of cornstarch would remove grease spot form wallpaper. Let it dry then brush it off.

  • Crayon marks come off painted walls with a little toothpaste or baking soda.
  • Heel marks come off of most floors with an eraser.Grandma utilized lemon juice to remove rust from the linoleum.
  • Candle wax comes off of carpeting with an iron and a paper bag. Place the bag over the dried wax, then run a hot iron over the bag. Voila! The bag will absorb the wax. For wood floors try removing dried wax by heating with a hair dryer and wiping with a paper towel. Remove any residue with vinegar and water.
  • Red wine comes off carpeting by first blotting with a paper towel, and then dabbing with a solution of ½ teaspoon dishwashing soap and a cup of lukewarm water. If that doesn’t work try dabbing with a solution of 1/3 cup white vinegar and 2/3 cup water and blotting with water.
Here are a few more household hints from the back of Grandma’s Kitchen Guide. There’s no publication date but family tells me that she probably bought it from a tinker who came by their place in Texas and would sell her aluminum cookware. Keep in mind that Grandma fed her family off the land they lived on, so much of the spring cleaning involved gardening duties.
  • Whitewashing trees
  • A whitewash made of ordinary finishing lime and water should be applied to the trunks of trees which are apt to be infected. This same wash is sometimes used on bushes with success. One gardener treats his tract of currants with this whitewash every spring and he claims that the bushes are kept free from parasites in early season when a sturdy unhampered growth is essential.
  • Prevent rust on gardening tools
  • Keep a thick rag soaked in coal oil handy for wiping off garden tools when you come in from the garden. This prevents rusting.
  • Stains on white goods
  • Lemon juice, salt and strong sunlight are cures for stains on white materials.
  • Aluminum an Advantage
  • An aluminum dish pan is a joy to the housewife, as it holds the heat of the dishwater much longer than a tin or agate pan. (that sneaky tinker put in a sales pitch!)
  • Refrigerator deodorant
  • Put a piece of charcoal on one of the shelves of the refrigerator. It acts as an absorbent for all odors and purifies the air.
  • Killing earthworms
  • To exterminate earthworms from potted plants, thrust unburnt sulpher matchheads, heads down, into the earth around the plants. Use from two to six matches according to the size of the plant.
  • Dog care
  • If you keep a nickel’s worth of sulpher in the dog’s drinking water and leave it there it helps keep the dog healthy and is especially good for a dog subject to worms. (you know not to do this right?)
  • Turning window shades
  • When window shades become soiled or faded at the lower end, it is by no means the end of their existence. Remove them from the rollers, make a hem in the good part of the shade and tack the shabby end to the roll, They will look like new as the shabby part will only show when the shade is pulled all the way down.
  • Using gasoline for cleaning
  • Whenever you use gasoline for cleaning purpose, pour the residue down the kitchen sink, (it’s a wonder Lometa, Texas is not a vast hole in the ground!) followed by boiling water. This process will cut all the grease deposits that may have gathered and give a thorough cleaning to the pipes.

Grandma and Grandpa in apple blossom time.

For that Spring Fever Lingerie Fashion Show at midnight!

  • Tinting lingerie
  • Lingerie must be tinted occasionally to preserve its dainty appearance. A faded blue garment will tint a delicate orchid with the aid of pink dye. A pale yellow will shade into a delicate green if dipped in blue dye, and a pink dye will change yellow to a melon or shell pink. Be sure to use small quantities of dye for pastels.
  • Brightening silk hose
  • A tablespoon of vinegar to the rinse water will bring out the lustre in silk stockings.
  • Keep silk white
  • A light bluing in the rinse water after laundering white silk underwear will keep it snowy white and never give it a chance to yellow.
A place for everything and everything in its place! There's nothing quite like walking into a house in apple-pie order with every room shipshape. Now that you've gotten your cleanliness crash course, sit back and admire your like-new clean house, and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

*Tip o’ the hat to Gorgonzola for the suggestion.

Sources:

Conquering Clutter- The 4 Container Method:
http://housekeeping.about.com/cs/organizing101/a/4cntnrmthdclttr.htm

Kitchen Guide by VIKO Extra Quality Aluminum circa 1930s.

Spring cleaning :
www.homeandoffice.hp.com/hho/cache/863-0-0-225-121.html -

Spring Cleaning Tips - Home Made Simple:
www.homemadesimple.com/ organizedlife/spring_cleaning.shtml

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