Fun Facts: The History of Spring Cleaning |
Do You Know Where the Tradition of Spring Cleaning Comes From?

Do You Know Where the Tradition of Spring Cleaning Comes From?

Spring Cleaning: The practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime

Written by –
Jess Ng
on February 17th 2018
Jess loves good design! She spends her weekends exploring the sights, sounds and architecture of the world. Another favorite activity is taste-testing local delicacies.

Longer days, bluer skies and birdsong. For many, these signals uplift the spirits, marking a promise of sunshine and general happiness after the dark depression of winter. For the discerning home owner and general neat freak however, these harbingers engender a sudden need to buy ALL the rubber gloves and table polish, in preparation for the intense practice of spring cleaning.


Yes, it’s nearly that time of year again. But before you break out the cleaning products, let’s take a quick look at how the art of spring cleaning even began in the first place.

Religious Origins

As with many traditions in the Western world, spring cleaning can be linked back to religious origins.


History of Spring Cleaning: Minimalist white kitchen open shelving |

In Jewish custom, spring cleaning can be traced back to the practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in preparation for the springtime festival of Passover. As part of the celebrations, there are strict prohibitions against consuming anything which may have been leavened with yeast. As such, it is a Jewish custom to thoroughly ‘spring clean’ the home of any trace of these products.

History of Spring Cleaning: Minimalist neutral dining room with floor-to-ceiling drapes |
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Elsewhere in Catholic tradition, it’s customary to clean the church altar and everything associated with it on Maundy Thursday. The theory goes that this custom could have been extended to the home in preparation for the Easter celebrations. In Orthodox groups, it’s even common to partake in a ‘Clean Week’ whereby the house is cleaned every night for the week leading up to Lent.

Cultural Origins

Aside from religious origins, some researchers have traced the tradition back to the Persian practice of ‘shaking the house’ just before the Persian new year on the first day of spring. This involves cleaning everything in the home, including all the drapes and furniture.

History of Spring Cleaning: Scandinavian-inspired white bedroom with wooden bench |
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In the Chinese culture too, a thorough cleaning of the home is required before Chinese new year (which typically occurs in January or February). This is supposed to rid the home of all the bad luck and misfortune that has accumulated during the year.


Human Nature

Although religious and cultural explanations lend a certain gravitas to spring cleaning, another explanation could just be human nature.


History of Spring Cleaning: White farmhouse kitchen with open shelving and rustic accents |
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Simply put, we’re altogether less tired in spring. Biology has found that the lack of sun in winter causes the human body to produce more sleep hormones. As the days get longer in the springtime however, our energy (and motivation to clean) gradually goes up. Who knew?

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Wanting to get a head start on your very own spring cleaning? Make sure to download our FREE printable cleaning schedule and checklist. Also check out our review of  The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning for the ultimate decluttering inspo.



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