Spring cleaning can improve quality of life

Spring cleaning is long gone from our house, but I still remember the smell of a “clean” house as a girl.
Oh how we cleaned every nook and cranny. We scrubbed the closet shelves of “spare bedrooms” that were never used. We hung the parlor rug on the clothesline and beat it unmercifully.
We took every dish out of the china closet, washed the dishes, and dusted the shelves.
We washed all of our bedding in a wringer-washer and opened the windows to let in the spring breezes. We washed the windows inside and outside, and washed and ironed the curtains.
It was fun—and a wonderful catharsis. The long, long winter was gone and healing spring had come.
Somehow, I still miss the old-fashioned spring cleaning. Now, we have no special season of the year when everything is tidy at the same time.
Things pile up in our closets. We have to wash our good dishes before we use them. And although our vacuums may clean our rugs better, our houses never really have the fresh smell of spring.
That’s why I get very nostalgic when spring arrives. These days, it’s not so much the accumulation of the dirt that bothers me, but the accumulation of things. In other words, clutter!
While recovering from my stroke last year, I went through all my files and discarded 15 large garbage bags full. By the time I was finished with that job, I no longer was confined to a wheelchair and I began to clean up all the closets, cupboards, and drawers, sending lots of things to the economy shop.
That was a worthwhile spring-cleaning—good for the soul and also for the body. But unfortunately, now one year later, it needs to be done again.
Why do we let so much clutter come into our lives?
I have in my possession a yellowed clipping from 1984 about one of my favoruite authors, Don Aslett. This article began “Don Aslett wants to save your soul—from the ravages of junk.”
“This fast-talking enthusiastic millionaire janitor is rapidly becoming the guru of the anti-clutter crowd. . . . He makes the reader think about possessions and what they do to us, how they eat up time, money, and energy, often giving little pleasure in return.”
It was a review of Aslett’s new book, “Clutter’s Last Stand,” and I immediately bought a copy.
Aslett says, “If you want to improve the quality of your life, the easiest way is to get rid of your physical junk.”
Aslett defines junk as anything that doesn’t enhance our lives. We have so few days in our lives, we can’t afford to waste time taking care of clutter.
Clutter makes every job take longer, says Aslett. And cleaning professionals suggest that getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40 percent of the housework in an average home.
In her book “Organizing from the Inside Out,” Julie Morgenstern suggests that de-cluttering is essential. We acquire so much “stuff” in our affluent society that “organizing has become a survival skill for the 21st century.”
That’s why spring cleaning is so critical.
So what about you? Why not do an old-fashioned spring cleaning this year? But instead of cleaning the same old stuff, throw it out. Because after all, a junk-free life is a good life.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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