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Spring cleanse while you spring clean

Despite the recent snowfall, spring has arrived--and with it the annual rite of spring cleaning. After a winter spent cooped up indoors, spring cleaning can rejuvenate a household and provide a chance to rid a home of a season's worth of clutter....

When cleaning their homes in the spring, homeowners should not forget to inspect their curtains, which can accumulate dust and dirt over the course of winter. (Metro Creative photo)
When cleaning their homes in the spring, homeowners should not forget to inspect their curtains, which can accumulate dust and dirt over the course of winter. (Metro Creative photo)

Despite the recent snowfall, spring has arrived-and with it the annual rite of spring cleaning.

After a winter spent cooped up indoors, spring cleaning can rejuvenate a household and provide a chance to rid a home of a season's worth of clutter.

In addition to giving your home or garage a facelift, more experts agree that spring cleaning can have positive mental health benefits, as well. For one thing, the desire to keep things clean and tidy is "built in" to most people, according to Dr. Patsy Fox, a licensed professional counselor-mental health at Dakota Counseling Institute in Mitchell.

"It doesn't have to be the hoarding mess. It's just the counter tops never get cleaned off, or the sink is full," she said. "It reflects on your self-worth. You have that sense of, 'I'm not doing what I need to be doing.' "

She said when people feel their homes or work spaces are messy or cluttered, their internal voice turns into a nagging critic, which can add to their anxiety. Too much anxiety can in turn lead to depression, she said. People may stop inviting others over, "because my house is too much of a mess."

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Keeping things clean and clutter-free, on the other hand, helps people relieve anxiety and stay on track.

"When you de-clutter, you have a sense of accomplishment," she said.

Popular spring cleaning projects include donating old clothes and cleaning out the garage, but there are other tasks homeowners can tackle to freshen up their homes this spring.

Floors

Simply vacuuming or sweeping the floors might not be enough to banish some of winter's most uninvited guests. Dust has a way of settling into a home over the course of a typical winter, and it's easy for a home's inhabitants to track dirt and debris inside as well. After vacuuming or sweeping floors, go over them with a mop. Doing so can remove any lingering dust, dirt, debris and allergens the vacuum or broom failed to pick up. Apply wood cleaner and polish to wood floors to make them look even cleaner.

Baseboards

Though baseboards might not seem all that dirty, upon closer inspection homeowners might notice substantial accumulations of dirt and dust. Such dirt and dust many not be removed so easily, so homeowners might need to use hot water and a sponge to remove any debris that is clinging.

Curtains

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Curtains also may have absorbed substantial amounts of dust, dirt and debris over the winter. This might be more visible near the end of winter when more sunlight begins to shine through. Clean the curtains in adherence to the manufacturer's instructions before you open windows for the season so any wind that blows in does not spread debris onto nearby furniture. Once the curtains have been washed, opening windows may help them dry more quickly.

Bathrooms

Mold and grime can accumulate throughout a season in which it's too cold to open bathroom windows to let fresh air in after bathing. Inspect ceilings, tubs, shower stalls and floors for any signs of mold growth or grime. Mold growth in a home can lead to respiratory problems and exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma. If you have let that slip, prioritize such inspections come spring cleaning time.

Furniture

Dust and dirt can quickly accumulate on couches and chairs over the course of winter. When possible, vacuum furniture to remove any debris that might have accumulated while windows and doors were kept shut, and shampoo any cushions or seat covers that don't pass the smell test.

For the mind

In addition to paying a little extra attention to the house in the springtime, more people are recommending ways to "spring clean the mind." From toning down social media/Internet use to starting a daily meditation routine, expert recommendations vary. On cignabehavioral.com, the following tips are recommended for people looking to improve their mental health:

• Breathe. Take 10 deep breaths and empty your mind.

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• Prioritize. Make task checklists and start on the most important ones first. Check tasks off as you go and don't procrastinate.

• Do one thing at a time.

• Communicate. Relieve tension by talking with your spouse, partner, friends or family members about your concerns. Learn to address conflict calmly.

• Be tolerant and forgiving. Learning these skills helps you reduce frustration and anger.

• Exercise.

• Take a break. Always have a lunch break or some "me-time" to relax and unwind.

• Put things in perspective. Make a list of the things that are troubling you; then fold it and put it away for the rest of the day. Think to yourself, "Will this matter in a week, month or year from now?"

• Stay positive. Praise yourself and others for good work.

• Sleep. Make sure you get enough rest.

• Eat a balanced diet. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, as they can act as depressants.

• Have fun. Find time to do things you enjoy.

-- Metro Creative contributed to this report.

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