October Autumn Cleaning Challenge: Introduction

October Autumn Cleaning Challenge: Introduction


Why do we only clean the house in spring? It’s become one of those cultural habits that everyone seems to follow without knowing the reasons why. In this article I take a look at the history behind spring cleaning and why only cleaning once a year could be doing you more harm than good.

Autumn Cleaning Challenge - Introduction
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Hello! It’s the start of a new month so I thought I’d introduce a challenge that we can all take part in – a cleaning challenge!

We all seem to thinks that a “big” clean should only be done in the spring rather that during the rest of the year. The reason? Read on below to find out!

The History And Culture Of Spring Cleaning

“Spring” cleaning can be traced back to Iranian, Jewish and some early European (then transplanted to Northern America) cultures.

In Iran, the New Year starts on March the 21st so the house needs to be throughly cleaned before this festival. This practice is called “Khooneh Tekouni” the literal meaning of which is “shaking of the house”. In this ritual everything in the house is cleaned: curtains, rugs, furniture etc. so that the New Year (and by extension Spring) can begin with a clean start.

Jewish culture’s spring cleaning rituals stem from the Passover feast which remember the Jew’s exodus from Egypt. During the observance of Passover – which lasts seven days – eating or drinking anything that has been “leavened (raised) or fermented with yeast” is strictly prohibited, this even includes having crumbs around the house that may have fallen from leavened foodstuffs.

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Because of this ruling, Jews celebrating Passover would conduct a thorough cleaning of the house, followed by a candlelit hunt for any stray crumbs the night before Passover begins. Passover, like the Christian festival of Easter is a movable feast and falls around the month of April hence the link with Spring cleaning.

In Europe (and latterly North America) the notion of Spring cleaning stems less from religious practices and more from practical ones. As the days got longer and warmer it was easier to open the windows, air the house and remove the dust without the fear of insects invading as they would during the summer months.

Why Don’t We “Autumn Clean”?

Autumn (in Western European cultures at least) has traditionally been a time of getting the land ready for harvest and then reaping the crops. The harvest was a very important part of life within a household and the crops needed to be gathered before bad weather spoilt them – losing crops could mean death over the winter. As a result the whole family was involved which meant there was no time to do something as mundane as clean the house.

In this modern day and age, we’re no longer tied to the land during harvest time – the nearest we’ll get is wondering what to buy for dinner down at the local market! – this frees us up to be able to clean whenever we want.

From Passion To Profit

So Why Do We Need An “Autumn Clean”?

It’s amazing how much “stuff” we can accumulate within 6 months, I’m sure if you take a look at everything you’ve bought since your spring clean you’ll be surprised at the amount. Also, we often put off certain chores thinking “I’ll get around to that later” which we never do until the following spring.

Having a big clean up every 6 months will help you to keep track of what items you’ve purchased, what can be binned (or preferably recycled or donated) and helps ensure cleaning isn’t a massive chore when you have relatives around at Thanksgiving, Christmas and reduces the time needed for your next Spring Clean.

Autumn is also the opposite of spring in that we start shutting windows and, thanks to the cold, turning the heating on. This can create ideal conditions for both harmful bacteria and allergy-inducing dust mites so it’s a great time to bust out the mop and vacuum cleaner and get cracking!

What Does the October Autumn Cleaning Challenge Mean?

Over the course of the next month I’ll be taking a look at various tasks you can complete in October so you can take part in the “Autumn Cleaning Challenge”.

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We’ll cover things like:

  • Kitchen cleaning and organisation
  • Organising your desk draw with a few cardboard boxes
  • How to organise your wardrobe
  • What needs cleaning when
  • Cleaning hacks
  • And more…!

In my first post on Wednesday, I’ll look at what inspired me to write this series, the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo, (affiliate link) a book that simultaneously managed to inspire and infuriate me – which is no mean feat!

Over To You

Do you just spring clean once a year or do you have several “big” cleans? Let us know in the comments below, or by contacting me through the website or twitter – I look forward to hearing from you!

Other Articles In This Series

  1. October Autumn Cleaning Challenge: Introduction
  2. Autumn Cleaning Challenge: What Needs Cleaning When [Infographic]
  3. Autumn Cleaning Challenge: 17 Cleaning Hacks To Make Your Life Easier
  4. Autumn Cleaning Challenge: Challenge 1 – Office & Desk Organisation
  5. Autumn Cleaning Challenge : Challenge 2 – Cleaning And Organising Your Kitchen
  6. Autumn Cleaning Challenge : Challenge 3 – Bedroom Organisation
  7. Autumn Cleaning Challenge : Challenge 4 – Bathroom Cleaning & Organisation
About The Author
Katy is always trying to be more productive one day at a time! Whether it's analogue, digital, motivational or psychological who'll try any system that will help her get things done and get organised. As well as running FlippingHeck.com, she also loves making music and reviewing things.
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Photo Credit: Rotary Mop & Bucket by surasakiStock from freedigitalphotos.net
Information on Spring Cleaning history from Wikipedia and How Stuff Works
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