It’s April, y’all! You know what that means, right? Spring cleaning! It’s time to banish the clutter and dirt that accumulated in your home as you hid from the sometimes bone-chilling, damp frigidity that is a New Orleans winter. People have been cleaning their home in the spring since living indoors became a thing. The Persian tradition of Khaneh Tekani, “shaking the house” dates back 3,000 years. Persians believed that the removal of dust and clutter from the home prevented ill fortune in the year to come. In Judaism, spring cleaning correlates with Passover, which commemorates the liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt. In their haste to leave Egypt, the Israelites did not have time to let bread rise and so ate it unleavened. In honor of the survival of the slaves, the Torah proclaims that only unleavened bread is to be consumed during Passover. A house must be cleaned to remove every crumb of chametz (yeast bread) before Passover begins. In the yogic tradition of Saucha, spring cleaning is done to ensure a clean, non-distracting environment. But spring cleaning is not only a spiritual endeavor, it is often a vital exercise. In the 1800s, whale oil or kerosene was used as fuel for lamps, and coal or wood was used for heat. Valorous attempts were made to stay on top of the grime, such as those that Lydia Maria Child recorded in her 1864 self-flagellatory Drudgery Journal (a diary often kept by women in the 19th century to make sure that they were extra anal and accomplished in their cleaning rituals): “Swept and dusted sitting-room & kitchen 350 times. Filled lamps 362 times. Swept and dusted chamber & stairs 40 times.” Yet when spring arrived, a home still needed a thorough sluicing. Neurobiologically, we are more likely to clean in the spring, because we have more pep in our step. During the colder, sometimes dreary winter months, our bodies produce more melatonin. This sleepy-time hormone makes us more sluggish and less likely to clean. Once we get more of that sweet, sweet vitamin D, we’re ready to dash the dust. And cleaning… cleaning just makes you feel good! Seeing a task through to completion makes us feel accomplished, thereby activating the reward process in our brain and releasing feel-good hormones such as dopamine. And don’t forget, when you’re cleaning, you’re exercising and therefore releasing endorphins! This April, I wish you the mental, spiritual, and physical peace that a good top-to-bottom cleaning provides. Now for the tips!

What are some interesting cleaning myths?

I want to give a shoutout to my dear, badass friend Reina Rodriguez for asking this question. I love debunking shit, so this is right up my alley.

Myth #1: Pine-Sol attracts roaches.
I addressed this ridiculous myth in the September 2022 edition of Tips From Theriot. This tall tale is hilarious to me. Why would a bug be attracted to a smelly chemical? They wouldn’t be. So no: Roaches are not bewitched by this piney cleaner, they are repelled by it. And being that it is a noxious chemical, it is a roach killer. But if you want to rid your home of creepy Blattodea, they are equally repulsed by the smell of citrus. Squirt a generous amount of lemon juice into a small spray bottle filled with water, and spray your pad—or just place some lemon peels around the house. Roaches will skedaddle, and your house will smell yummy. Win win!

Myth #2: Feather dusters remove dust.
Since most feather dusters are made from cheap, synthetic feathers, they merely move dust around and flit it into the air. Feather dusters only work marginally well if you plan on investing in a duster made with genuine ostrich feathers. Ostrich feathers work because they have millions of teensy filaments that dust sticks to. Instead of a feather duster, I recommend using eco-friendly Swiffer-esque duster heads. Unlike disposable Swiffer dusters, these are made of dust-grabbing microfiber, fleece, or flannel and are reusable. Plus, they fit on Swiffer wands! With these dusters, you’re wiping versus gently tickling the smut, which I find more precise and effective. Plus, no ostriches die in the making of them!

Myth #3: Vacuum before you dust.
What?! For most rooms in your home, this is quite possibly the stupidest, most counterproductive cleaning idea and, frankly, I’m offended… with a caveat. When I clean bathrooms and kitchens, I always do a preliminary dusting, then vacuuming of the room before I introduce water into the cleaning equation. For if you get dust wet, it turns into a muddy mess. BUT, after I get the nuts and bolts of the cleaning done (anything involving the use of water), I dry the floor, then do a final vacuum followed by the requisite mopping. I’m a stickler for top-to-bottom cleaning, because dirt moves in a downward trajectory as you clean. When you clean from bottom to top, you’re basically pouring dirt all over your freshly cleaned furniture and floor as you move upwards. Remember this saying when cleaning: “Vacuum before dust, recleaning is a must. Dust before vacuum, a really clean room!”

How do I remove nicotine from my car windows?

Do people really still smoke? It wreaks so much havoc on your bod and might kill you! Please try to stop it, for I love you. The nicotine residue on your windows is called thirdhand smoke, and it’s very bad for you. A study published in 2010 found that when nicotine reacts with nitrous acid in the air it causes the formation of carcinogens. So please follow these steps to remove that oily, stinky residue ASAP. First, you’ll want to squirt some dish soap into a bucket filled with water. Grab a rag, dip it in the sudsy solution, and wipe the window. Remove the suds with a damp rag, then wipe with a dry rag. Fill a spray bottle with a solution of half water and half vinegar, spray the window, and wipe it with a microfiber rag. Use another microfiber rag to buff any streaks off of the window. If you still notice any remaining slick mess, repeat the steps above.

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