The idea of a bigger house clean in spring is so entrenched in our culture that the very words “spring cleaning” brings to mind a spotless and deeply clean home.
Yet spring does only come once a year and, let’s face it, there are many jobs that benefit from being tackled more often. And, for various reasons, autumn in Australia is an ideal time – perhaps even better than spring – for a change-of-season cleanse.
Aren’t the crisp, clear days of autumn simply gorgeous? This is perfect weather for opening up the house for airing and for tackling cleaning tasks without dissolving into summer-induced sweat or the chills of winter.
It’s also the ideal time to tackle the after-effects of the summer’s heat and humidity by doing a thorough check to make sure that any visiting mould or mildew is not going to settle in for the long haul.
Prepare for winter retreat
Jeff Withers, a psychologist and an I Ching specialist at 9 Pillar Feng Shui, says he finds autumn inspiring.
“For those who find that autumn weather brings crispness and clarity, you might like to know that autumn is associated with the element of metal, which represents simplicity, crispness, efficiency, assertiveness and completion,” he says.
“Every season has its reason. While spring marks the ‘start’, autumn is about preparing for winter, the time of reflection.”
As we tend to spend more time at home over winter, getting ready to retreat is a great motivation to get your house in order.
Tasks can include washing and airing your winter clothes that may not have seen much wearing for the past six months, as well as cleaning heating vents and blankets before they are in demand once more.
Professional home organiser Edel Beattie knows from personal and professional experience that autumn is an ideal time to deal with any clutter that’s accumulated over the more relaxed months of summer.
“Autumn is a time to reset your seasonal wardrobe,” she says. “Take this opportunity to let go of the things that didn’t make the cut last year and only keep the things that make you feel fabulous.”
For those with kids, getting organised can help prepare for the months when family life is more indoor-based. As a mum of two who runs The Happy Organiser, covering Sydney and Wollongong, Beattie knows this only too well.
“This can only mean two things: chaos and mess!” she says. “In anticipation of this, decluttering and getting good storage solutions can help minimise mess and maintain order.”
Twice is better than once
“People put a lot of emphasis on spring cleaning, but the reality is a lot of those jobs we put off and do once a year in spring should really be done quarterly, or at least bi-annually,” says Rune Sovndahl, CEO of Fantastic Services, an Australia-wide cleaning and maintenance service.
In his list, Sovendahl includes jobs like deep-cleaning our ovens and cleaning the grout in our bathrooms.
“By cleaning more often, you’ll save yourself the elbow grease needed to bring them back after being neglected for some time.”
Let the light in
Cleaning your windows is even more important as daylight savings ends and the days get shorter.
“Cleaning your windows effectively means you can increase the amount of natural light into your house, which has heaps of benefits for the entire family,” says Sovndahl.
He recommends removing dust and dirt as a first step before using a good glass cleaner. “And don’t forget to do the outsides as well!”
All the benefits for your health
At least one study has found that there is a positive correlation between time spent cleaning and people’s physical health, though researchers are less sure whether this is because of the cleaner environment or simply because of the physical effort that many cleaning tasks require.
Then, there are mental health benefits too. “We tend to feel more organised and calm when our environments are clean and tidy,” says Sovndhal. “So it makes sense that carrying out a big bi-annual clean as opposed to just a yearly spring clean can make a positive impact to our mental health.”