Spring Cleaning Concerns

cleaning supplies

Not once in my life have I completed spring cleaning. I usually begin well, but I have a rather large house and lots of stuff. And my husband is not so concerned about spring cleaning—he will help if asked but otherwise remains blissfully unaware that anything needs extra cleaning or sorting or consideration of any kind.

And yet, every spring I feel the urge to do spring cleaning. Do I enjoy setting myself up for failure? Don’t I know how this will end—with clean baseboards in only two rooms and new piles of letters or photographs or wrapping paper unearthed to be gone through, maybe, sometime before October?

I need to honor the impulse to sort, pitch, and clean. Clearly, it serves some good purpose or it would not have survived all these years of failure. So I’m taking a different tack this spring. I’m trying to spring clean according to a couple of principles:

Clean where I do the most living. It’s easy to clean out the corners where the stuff piles up but where I hardly spend any time—I can always re-organize a bookshelf. But when the weather is warmer, we spend most of our time on our large back porch. Also, I cook more. Those areas should be clean and clutter-free so that the living we do there will feel less stressful. So porch, pantry, and kitchen are the first priorities. After that, I can spend more time on rooms that are freer to disturb and sort out. And if I don’t get to the sitting room, I can concentrate on it when I do “fall cleaning,” because we spend much of our cold weather there, and that room will be a priority once again.

For every physical sort-and-pitch, I carry out a similar process in an area not so physical or obvious. One of my spring-cleaning lists is of people I need to see in person—friends I haven’t had lunch with in a while, people I keep up with on Facebook but with whom I’d like to share some coffee and face-to-face talk. Other items on the to-do list can be set aside for now, but these relationships are important to me, so I will de-clutter my schedule just as I de-clutter the kitchen.

  • What’s your strategy for spring cleaning, if you do it?
  • What gets in the way of de-cluttering and refreshing your life?
  • What helps you do the sorting and pitching you need?
About Vinita Hampton Wright 163 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

10 Comments on Spring Cleaning Concerns

  1. That’s a great point about making time to declutter the non-physical parts of your life. The cleaning of the home can wait, but friends and family will not be there forever.

  2. I too struggle with the sorting and purging. If it were up to me, I’d pitch most of it but alas, I live with two ‘keepers.’ Little actually makes its way out of my house. That is very frustrating. When my 5 kids were little I used to do my spring cleaning during Lent. It was part of my sacrifice and even more importantly it was part of cleaning up and out of my internal mess by cleaning the external as well. All sparkly and new for Easter! Haven’t been able to do that in years…

  3. I too have been trying to de-clutter my house , so that when I die my kids won’t have so much to do. None of them live anywhere near me.It is very hard , when one is not so well and old and your home has been used as a dumping ground for others. It reminds me of de-cluttering ones life, soul , mind, that can be hard also. I will keep trying, as I need that peace of mind ; so I can spend more quiet time conversing with Jesus AND READING !( It is Autumn where I live.) A.M.D.G.

  4. Spring cleaning where I live (Singapore) begins before the Chinese Lunar New Year (usually late January or early February).

    I live in a smaller home so keeping my it organized is easier. Also, I believe in regular maintenance to keep order. Another thing – re-arrange furniture and you’ll be inspired to tidy up, at least I do.

  5. It is so important to clean out in thevthe physical sense and connect to in the sense of reach out to others.
    I think of the words of Jesus in urging the disciples to “travel light.” As my wife and I move deeper into retirement, we are sort through and pondering the question of how much do we need to be comfortable and how much is too much.
    Blessings on your words and reflections.

  6. I am similarly “afflicted.” Enjoyed your prioritizing idea. When I begin decluttering, I run into articles I intended to read and, reading being more enjoyable than decluttering, I stop to read. It is a rewarding activity, but then I still have the decluttering left to do. Oh, well. There’s tomorrow, God willing.

  7. Clutter weighs me down and can keep me stuck emotionally and spiritually. It makes me feel lighter as well as my house to de clutter, so I have no problem doing it. In fact, I did it this weekend. I also liked your idea of de-cluttering my schedule to nurture and renew friendships and other important relationships.

  8. I can so relate to this, Vinita. (We met at Princeton last year). I always start out cleaning baseboards and a bathroom intensely and I usually fizzle out in a week or so. And yet, there is that urge again this year! I think you’re right about focusing on the most lived in spaces. It’s amazing though how cleaning one of those areas can be a catalyst for a change/different way of living.

  9. How timely as I am spending my day doing some deep cleaning! It becomes overwhelming and not exactly how I want to spend my time. Having cleaned out both of our parent’s homes, it gives me a new perspective on what to hang on to. As I sort and pitch, I like to think I am doing it for my sons and it will hopefully help them someday when they clean out our house. In the meantime, I like to hit hard the areas where we spend the bulk of our time. Break time is now up, back to the dust cloth and Goodwill box :)

  10. Here on Long Island (east of NYC), it is 41, with driving rain and gale winds this morning. Ocean temps are still 42-45. It doesn’t feel at all like spring here. My spring cleaning usually consists mostly of yard work, but the rain and cold have kept me inside cleaning and decluttering. When I try to decide if an object or piece of clothing should stay or go, I try to picture the person who might be shopping in the local St. Vincent de Paul store who will enjoy what I have decided to let go. Picturing the person really motivates me In letting go.

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