Get On Your Mark. Get Set. Clean!


clean-home-2-1193877-mThe three days following Palm Sunday have traditionally been “spring cleaning” days, when the entire house is thoroughly de-cluttered, dusted, scoured, and otherwise made as neat as possible for the greatest feast of the Christian year.  Spring cleaning is a custom derived from the ancient Jewish practice of ritually cleansing the whole house in preparation for the Feast of Passover. During spring cleaning days, not an inch of the home is to be spared the swipe of a dustrag or spritz of polish. 

This is bad news for those of us whose lack of focus and organization make even day-to-day housecleaning a challenge.  It’s been said that “housecleaning done properly can kill you,” and I believe it.  After all, the struggle to keep up with the laundry has resulted in a few near-death experiences of my own.

But this is the season of hope, so I’d like to offer some encouragement to those who, like me, face spring cleaning with trepidation. There IS help to be found, and it won’t require a team of cleaning ladies and 19 man-hours of labor.  A stop at the library or a small expenditure at the bookstore is all you need to get housecleaning in hand.  Here are a few books that I have found particularly helpful:

Sidetracked Home Executives:  From Pigpen to Paradise by Pam Young and Peggy Jones  

I stumbled upon this book about twenty years ago, and it remains my favorite, both for practicality and inspiration.  The authors – Pam and Peggy Jones – are two rather dizzy sisters with the very best intentions, but the absolute worst organization skills.  Their “witness” stories are both heartfelt and hilarious.  Pam and Peggy’s common-sense housecleaning system requires nothing more than a file box, a calendar, and some index cards, and can be put together in a weekend.  Highly recommended!

Clutter’s Last Stand: It’s Time to De-Junk Your Life!  by Don Aslett

Don Aslett is no softie.  In fact, he can be downright harsh, especially in his characterizations.  But this is the only book that ever inspired my own mother – a clutter junkie of the first order – to actually part with some of the useless stuff she’d accumulated over the years.  No wonder they call Don the King of Clean! If you’ve been trying and failing to free yourself from clutter, and you’re looking for success instead of sympathy, this is the book for you.

Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell

For those who have trouble applying Don Aslett’s clean-as-you-go principle, Speed Cleaning is a good resource.  Are you the type of thoughtful hostess who will doff your apron to go sit with your houseguests, leaving the pancake batter to harden on the kitchen counter?  Jeff’s instruction in the most efficient use of elbow grease will have your kitchen spic-and-span in no time flat.

Do you hold to the custom of spring-cleaning before Easter?  What are your best housecleaning tips?

Copyright 2014 Celeste Behe


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  1. Thank you! I need cleaning help!

    Today, I actually made an old-school (but hopefully somewhat grown up?) chore chart, complete with silver and gold glittery star stickers for when I complete one of the tasks. My husband is still laughing, but he doesn’t understand the 6-year-old that lives inside of every woman who is still motivated by sparkly stickers, the accumulation of which lead to an adult-beverage reward for the adult part of the woman.

    But I should probably also check out those books!

  2. This really could not have come at a better time. For BIG cleaning, I am finding myself looking at giant piles of stuff, feeling so overwhelmed, that I turn around, turn off the light, and shut the door! It’s just SO MUCH STUFF! I’m very excited to get a few tools to help me get started (like a powerful floor lamp to light my space in the basement so I can actually see what it is I’m cleaning) and one or two of these books. Thanks for your timely article!

  3. Pingback: Get On Your Mark. Get Set. Clean! (Catholic Mom 2014)

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