IT’S the beginning of April, which can only mean one thing. No, not good weather or an inexplicable urge to put on a petticoat and wander barefoot across Leith Links reciting Wordsworth.
I’m talking about spring cleaning. A phrase to strike fear into the hearts of all those who think rugs are for hiding dust and cupboards are for hiding everything bigger than dust. The spring clean, by the way, is to be differentiated from the deep clean, a more brutal domestic war on dirt that is performed only when a) you have mice b) you have bedbugs or c) someone has died.
The spring clean is a friendlier beast, mostly because it has the word ‘spring’ in it. This is as close as you’re going to get to an actual daffodil-studded, grass-scented spring this year, so better enjoy it while it lasts. Here’s what you need:
1. Cupboards that result in a moderate concussion whenever opened. This is generally caused by a falling hoover snake, clothes horse, hair dryer or that box of stuff you haven’t opened since 2006 that is none the less extremely important to your sense of self. In a bad year, one cupboard can contain all those weapons and as you open it they rain down upon your head like so much domestic shame.
2. A wardrobe of winter coats. These must be ritualistically swapped over with the spring and summer jackets that you threw on the floor of said wardrobe in a short-termist heap around October last year. Now you must make the switch with the intention of folding the winter coats neatly and putting them into those never-been-used storage bags you bought from Ikea on one of those I’m-going-to-organise-my-life days. The intention isn’t enough. Instead, you will throw them on the floor in a short-termist heap, promising – again – to be a better person come October.
3. Dirty windows. In winter, windows are never to be opened unless – God forbid – a sneaky spider needs to be dispatched. Therefore they have not been cleaned for months. Now, however, the days have lengthened and with this comes the possibility of window boxes (which will remain unrealised) and the more pressing awareness that you can’t see out of your windows any more. In order to wash them, argue with your partner for hours over who last paid the window cleaner (C, always blooming C), then sulk until the one who always pays the window cleaner (C, always lovely C) cracks and does it again.
4. A fridge full of old food, out-of-date jars and garlic bulb skins. This is not a fun job because, unlike cupboards, which occasionally yield an amusing photo or beloved old pair of specs, fridges never contain anything old that is worth keeping or laughing over. There is nothing funny about a pot of furry houmous. It’s best to just chuck everything out and start all again with a pint of milk and a promise.
5. Dust. This mysterious matter – composed of skin, hair, pet grit, pine needles and about 20p in coppers – doesn’t only exist in spring and summer, but it is the only time you can see it. And what can be seen must be cleaned, as Martha Stewart said (OK, that was me, not Martha). Just as we flock to John Lewis on a Saturday, dust has places it loves for no good reason. Think skirting boards, under beds and on top of the fridge. Try dressing up like David Bowie while you probe your feather duster into naughty corners and watch the dust fly like so much glitter. A bit of role play makes the time go faster. Unfortunately, by the time you’ve finished, the windows will be caked in dust and need washed all over again. This is the nature of cleaning. It never ends. Happy spring cleaning.