Spring Cleaning Traditions

Readers share their special memories of annual spring cleaning and growing up.

Spring Cleaning Traditions

Spring Cleaning Traditions

Sisters Kay, Dessie, Emily and Ruby gathered at Emily’s house after every spring-cleaning. Photo submitted by Joanne Clayton.


We asked our readers for a peak inside their spring cleaning traditions. Here’s what they had to say!

That ammonia aroma

Growing up in Houston in the 1950s and ’60s, every year, after Easter, heavy-duty cleaning supplies were bought and lined up on the kitchen counter, and I’d know that the whole next week the house would smell of ammonia water. Phew!

Six of us worked with old toothbrushes and sponges, scrubbing and swiping everywhere. Everyone worked together: my parents, my grandmother, her sister, my sister and me. As the youngest and smallest, I always got the crawling-on-the-floor and boosted-up-high-to-reach chores.

After the last streak of Windex had dried and the sweet scent of lemon oil replaced that ammonia smell, Mom’s three sisters (my aunts Kay, Dessie and Ruby) would visit and put their spring cleaning seal of approval upon it all.

Joanne Clayton, Herrin, Illinois

Fun with Mom

Although spring cleaning meant that my two brothers and I couldn’t play with our friends, Mom always made it fun when I was growing up. We’d start with my brothers’ room. We kids stripped the beds, windows and shelves while Mom picked outgrown clothes from the closet. Everything—clothes, bedding, curtains, soft toys—went into a huge mound in the middle of the floor.

One year the pile was taller than my little brother, Freddy. We were staring at it when Mom suddenly picked up Freddy and dumped him right in the middle! We all jumped in and threw things up and around us as if we were in a leaf pile on a fall day. We tickled and buried each other and laughed until it hurt. When we couldn’t stand it anymore, we all lay there in the middle of the room, together in a heap.

Patricia Smith, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Violets—and voilà!

Growing up I loved to help my mom and Aunt Ella with spring-cleaning. We beat dust clouds out of rugs and stretched curtains on wooden bars to dry. After the house was all cleaned, there was one last chore, better than any other: picking a huge bouquet of violets from Grandpa’s field.

Joan Walter, Gaines, Pennsylvani

Autumn spring-cleaning

We live east of Phoenix, and with 110 to 120 degree temperatures from June through October, we run an evaporator cooler, or swamp cooler, all summer. It pumps so much moisture into the house that we must do our spring-cleaning in fall, otherwise mold will form on walls, furniture and ceilings.

During spring cleaning, we clean one or two rooms a week, washing down walls and ceilings with cleaner and bleach, laundering curtains and table scarves, then shampooing the rugs and furniture. The swamp cooler gets cleaned and readied for the next summer season, which can sometimes start as early as April.

With the house in order, we move on to the yard and the outbuildings. Again, it’s easier and safer to do these when cooler weather hits. There’s nothing like crawling under a shed to fix a floor and coming across a scorpion or a rattlesnake. And before we know it, it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Pat Payton, Kearny, Arizona